My 1930s Maxitone Wind-Up Gramophone

Often the things you wait for the longest are the things you will treasure the most. I had the utter delight of owning a portable gramophone for a short while when the children were young. It broke and I’m not sure what happened to it. I’ve waited 25 years to own one again. That time has now come and I am thrilled! It’s a beautiful 1930s Maxitone Portable Wind-Up Gramophone in an unusual green (you don’t see many!)

I had forgotten how heavy old records are. I guess they needed to be robust to take the heavy stylus. My interest is in 1940s wartime music and also pre 1940s…. back to the 20s when 78’s came out. So the first 20 years of 78’s basically. I love the “noise” on the record!

I will have to find a few WW2 anthems to play on it!

C xxxx

14 thoughts on “My 1930s Maxitone Wind-Up Gramophone

  1. I love the shade of green on the Gramophone’s case! I have a Grafonola, a similar sort of model to yours, from circa 1930. I am still looking for someone to give it a service! It works but the arm is loose and it needs a spruce up (oiling of parts etc). I have a little collection of 78s from the late 1920s- to 1930s. I listen to them on my retro record player.

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  2. I forgot to add: you are quite right the records did need to be robust to withstand the steel needles. As long as you don’t drop them, wash them with soap and water every so often, and don’t play them a lot on a gramophone (record player is better with a stylus for the surface) they are quite robust! Also stacking them vertically in a safe cabinet, rather on top of each other is better to avoid cracking them. I am very fortunate to have found a 1930s records cabinet, where inside it has baize pockets to store them.

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      • Yes! One needle per side, and I would recommend only playing your least collectible/precious ones on the Gramophone. Due to their age and having been played many times before, they will already have surface wear. For collectible/special 78s it’s best to play them on a record player as that does no harm to their surface. I only play mine on my Chesterton retro record player unit. I’ve some old random “tenors” and classical 78s which came with my Gramophone that are crackly and not collectible, so I’ve kept them for it.

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  3. Oh I also forgot to say- soft tone needles are more gentle on the 78s. And to be clear- play a 78, turn over change the needle, play that side. One needle per side, one time each only is recommended by 78s collectors.

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  4. The gramophone, does it play regular 78s (needle moves inward to the center) or is it one of those weird affairs that can play Pathe records where the needle cruises outward from center to the edge?
    That’s important to know.
    Armed services acetate disc’s and Coca-Cola ones of the WWII period play differently than regular 78s.
    Anyway, best of luck setting up a library of 78s.

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    • Yes it plays the standard 78’s so moves from the outside to the inside. I’m looking to buy some Al Bowly from the 1930s and that comes on the original type of 78″s. Thanks for the heads up about the other type of records during the war…had no idea ! Xxx C

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  5. 78rpm discs are heavy because they are made of shellac, not vinyl — it is less flexible, heavier, and a lot more fragile, which is why vinyl records took over once the necessary technology had been invented. (Although shellac, like celluloid, is a renewable material made from natural substances!)

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