Object ID: 2018.12.1
This large, desk-like item is not only a piece of furniture, but the original gramophone from the Rodmay Hotel. It is a Columbia Grafonola Regent, a model which was first introduced to the market in 1909 by the Columbia Gramophone Company. While Columbia manufactured the record player components in the UK, the cabinetry work was contracted out to the Cadillac Cabinet Company in Detroit Michigan.
This line was intended to be disguised as household furniture, and when all the drawers and turntable access are closed, it is near impossible to detect as a gramophone. The new and improved version of the Regent was released in 1911 and featured a sliding drawer access to the record player rather than a tabletop lid, making it even more discreet than this one which is an original model.
At the time of its original purchase by owners of the Rodmay, the Mckinney family, the Regent was priced at $200. It was a statement piece, complete with decorative clawed feet and multiple record storage compartments. The record player itself was equipped with a three-spring motor capable of playing a dozen records through, and was loud enough to be heard over the crowd of rowdy loggers and mill workers who filled the hotel each evening.
Its condition is far from perfect; the tabletop which was once immaculately finished mahogany is now stained by a century of glass rings and spilled drinks, and the last time it was operational is unknown. Eventually, the gramophone was forgotten and it changed hands multiple times before it was purchased by the donor in 2008 at a garage sale.
How does a gramophone work?