- 1888-03-29, North American Phonograph Company is founded by Jesse A. Lippincott. The original offices are in New York City, NY, USA.
- 1888-06, North American Phonograph Company becomes exclusive US distributor for American Graphophone Company cylinder players.
- 1890-05: North American Phonograph Company now has between 2500 and 3000 phonograph player/recorders rented for private and government use. (The phonograph at the time was being sold to the territorial companies and marketed by them for rental, not purchase.)
- 1890-05-28: The Convention of Local Phonograph Machines of the United States (made up of all 34 territorial labels, North American Phonograph Company, Edison Manufacturing Company, American Battery Company, Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Company, Union Electric Company, Eastern Electric Light and Storage Battery, Bradbury Stone Electric Storage Company, and Edison Phonographic Works) votes not to authorize the sale of any phonographs, restricting ownership to only renting them.
- By 1890-05, nearly the last of the territorial labels (32 of them) had been founded as distributors North American Phonograph Company products. There were 34 such territorial labels. In addition to distribution, between 1889 and 1892, at least nine of these labels also produced their own cylinder recordings. Some inter-territorial label trade also occurred, apart from the North American Phonograph Company, providing these locally produced cylinders with wider exposure. The ten labels producing as well as distributing were:
- Columbia Phonograph Company
- Kansas Phonograph Company
- Louisiana Phonograph Company
- Metropolitan Phonograph Company (only after June of 1892)
- Michigan Phonograph Company
- New-England Phonograph Company
- New-Jersey Phonograph Company
- New York Phonograph Company
- Ohio Phonograph Company
- 1890, fall, Jesse A. Lippincott suffers a stroke, Thomas A. Edison assumes position as CEO.
- 1890 or 1891: Main offices are moved to 1416 Morris Street, Jersey City, NJ, USA.
- early 1891, North American Phonograph Company, suffering serious financial difficulties, essentially stops all distribution and marketing.
- 1891-06-16: The 17 largest of the territorial companies report having leased approximately 3,139 phonographs (Edison), 61 to 65 graphophones (AGC), and 1,181 public nickel automatic-slot machines (931 variously modified Phonograph Works machines, 50 Standard Locomotive Works machines, and 200 Automatic Exhibition Phonograph Company machines).
- 1891, fall, American Gramophone Company cancels distribution agreement due to non-performance by North American Phonograph Company.
- 1891 to 1892: While it still is not permitted by the contracts between North American Phonograph Company and the territorial companies, one-third of the territorial companies begin to quietly sell off their used phonograph players. Though these companies can no longer obtain new graphophone machines, most of them also sell of their entire stock of graphophone players. (The companies that did sell their used machines were the New-England Phonograph Company, Wisconsin Phonograph Company, Pacific Phonograph Company, Ohio Phonograph Company, Columbia Phonograph Company, Texas Phonograph Company, Kentucky Phonograph Company, Tennessee Phonograph Company, Louisiana Phonograph Company, Holland Brothers, Leeds & Company, and the Missouri Phonograph Company.)
- 1892-04-01 to 1894-08: North American Phonograph Company released 1468 cylinders, with catalogue numbers 1 to 1468, separately from Edison Records, using the North American Phonograph Company label. The details of the majority of these are unknown.
- 1892-05-01, North American Phonograph Company issues 300 $1000 debenture bonds paying 6% interest, set to mature in 1912.
- Thomas A. Edison buys 220 of the bonds.
- Charles B. Carman bought 15 shares.
- Walter Cutting bought 14 shares.
- James Gaunt bought 11 shares.
- 1892-06-01: The territorial companies report now having leased 3814 phonographs (Edison), 227 graphophones (AGC). The companies which had broken their contracts and sold machines report having sold a total of 467 machines.
- 1892-06-13: The forthcoming resignation of Jesse A. Lippincott is announced.
- 1892-06-20: Jesse A. Lippincott officially resigns, Thomas A. Edison officially becomes company president.
- Early 1893: The last of the regional companies finally agree to allow the official sale of phonograph players.
- Early 1894, North American Phonograph Company, Edison Phonographic Company, and Columbia Phonographic Company cross-sue each other for patent infringement in manufacture and sale of cylinders and cylinder players. Court orders bar each company from manufacturing or selling cylinders and cylinder players. Though Columbia does continue to release cylinders (against court order), North American Phonograph Company is now unable to obtain Edison Records, and due to outstanding debts to Edison Phonograph Works, is unable to obtain new Edison cylinder players or cylinder blanks to create North American Phonograph Company cylinders. North American Phonograph Company's income is reduced to zero.
- 1894-04-01, Edison Phonograph Works presents North American Phonograph Company with a bill for outstanding debts of $78,518.37. North American Phonograph Company issues a promissory note for the entire amount, plus 6% interest, payable on 1894-06-11, pledging the 1200 shares of Edison Phonographic Company as collateral.
- 1894-06-11, North American Phonograph Company does not pay the 1894-04-01 promissory note.
- 1894-06-21, The Court House of Jersey City, NJ, USA auctions the 1200 shares of Edison Phonographic Company from the defaulted promissory note. Thomas A. Edison buys them for $10,000.
- 1894-05-01, the 6th straight month of interest payments on the 1892-05-01 bonds goes unpaid by North American Phonograph Company.
- 1894-06-18, Edison, Gaunt, Cutting, and Carman present the board of North American Phonograph Company with a formal demand for the $6,600 in unpaid interest due on the 1892-05-01 bonds.
- 1884-08-08, Thomas A. Edison and Charles B. Carman, still unpaid the interest due, declare the bonds to be in default, calling for the $300,000 to be payable immediately. North American Phonograph Company also again owes $36,000 in new debt to Edison Phonograph Works, as well as $20,000 in open promissory notes. A motion for dissolution of the company as insolvent is brought.
- 1894-09, North American Phonograph Company is declared to have $25,000 in assets, with $6,700,000 in outstanding debts and capital stock.
- 1894-09, North American Phonograph Company is sued by Edison United Phonographic Company for sales (in Europe) of Edison Records cylinders outside of its authorized sales territory (the USA and Canada).
- Late 1894, North American Phonograph Company is declared bankrupt with the majority of assets going to Thomas A. Edison as the primary creditor. It is merged into the Edison Phonographic Works.
- In 1924, the Edison Phonograph Works was merged with most other Edison companies to form Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated.
- In 1957, Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated was purchased by McGraw Electric Company and renamed McGraw-Edison.
- In 1985, McGraw-Edison formed Cooper Power Systems in a merger with:
- Kyle Corporation - founded as Electrical Connectors and Manufacturing Company in 1933
- RTE - founded as Rural Transformer and Equipment Company in 1947
- McGraw Electric - founded 1900, prior to 1985 had merged with:
- 1949, Line Material Company - founded 1911
- 1952, Pennsylvania Transformer Company
The Territories of the Regional Companies
Alabama Phonograph Company Alabama
Central Nebraska Phonograph Company central and western Nebraska
Chicago Central Phonograph Company Illinois (Cook County only)
Colorado and Utah Phonograph Company Colorado, Utah Territory
Columbia Phonograph Company District of Columbia, Delaware, and Maryland
Conyngton, Sellers & Conyngton Mississippi
Eastern Pennsylvania Phonograph Company eastern Pennsylvania
Florida Phonograph Company Florida
Georgia Phonograph Company Georgia
George W. Grant Tennessee (after Tennessee Phonograph Company went out
Holland Brothers agent for all of Canada and the District of
Alaska (modern day Alaska)
Iowa Phonograph Company Iowa
Kansas Phonograph Company Kansas, New Mexico Territory
Kentucky Phonograph Company Kentucky
Leeds & Co. Indiana
Louisiana Phonograph Company Louisiana
Metropolitan Phonograph Company Westchester, New York, Kings, Queens,
Suffolk, and Richmond counties in New York.
Michigan Phonograph Company Michigan
Minnesota Phonograph Company Minnesota
Missouri Phonograph Company Missouri, Arkansas, Unorganized Territory (modern day
Montana Phonograph Company Montana Territory (modern day Montana)
Nebraska Phonograph Company eastern Nebraska
New York Phonograph Company All of New York State except for Westchester, New
York, Kings, Queens, Suffolk, and Richmond counties.
New-England Phonograph Company Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island, Vermont, Maine
New-Jersey Phonograph Company New Jersey
Ohio Phonograph Company Ohio
Pacific Phonograph Company California, Arizona Territory, Nevada
South Dakota Phonograph Company Dakota Territory (modern day South Dakota and North Dakota)
Spokane Phonograph Company Oregon (east of 44° longitude), Washington Territory (east
of 44° longitude) (modern day Washington), Idaho Territory
State Phonograph Company of Illinois Illinois (except for Cook County)
Tennessee Phonograph Company Tennessee (until the company went out of business)
Texas Phonograph Company Texas
The Old Dominion Phonograph Co. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
West Coast Phonograph Company Oregon (west of 44° longitude), Washington Territory (west
of 44° longitude) (modern day Washington)
West Pennsylvania Phonograph Company western Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Wisconsin Phonograph Company Wisconsin
Wyoming Phonograph Company Wyoming Territory (modern day Wyoming)
Original Company Officers
President: Jesse A. Lippincott (Thomas A. Edison as of the fall of 1890)
Vice-President: Thomas R. Lombard
Treasurer: M. W. Nolan
Secretary: Cleveland Walcott
Board of Directors: Jesse A. Lippincott, Thomas R. Lombard, M. W. Nolan, Cleveland Walcott, Robert Thomae, S. C. Blodgett
Company Officers as of 1892-06-15
President: Thomas A. Edison
Vice-President: Thomas R. Lombard
Treasurer: Thomas Butler
Secretary: Cleveland Walcott
Today, the Edison Phonographic Works still exists as a branch of Cooper Power Systems.
Separately, a wax cylinder manufacturer and recording studio called the North American Phonograph Company again exists, reformed by Shawn Borri in the late 1990's, first as the New North American Phonograph Company, later renamed into simply the North American Phonograph Company. It manufactures blank cylinders, as well as restoring old cylinders and recording new ones.
While the large majority of cylinders sold by North American Phonograph Company were Edison Records cylinders, North American Phonograph Company did manufacture and sell a number of North American Phonograph Company cylinders. Only North American Phonograph Company cylinders should be listed here. Edison Records cylinders should be listed under that label, not here.
Note that the modern North American Phonograph Company does still record and manufacture wax cylinders. Most are then transferred to CD and distributed by the artists under other labels; only modern recordings actually released by North American Phonograph Company should be listed here.
Media Type(s) and Catalogue Numbers
All North American Phonograph Company releases were manufactured using brown wax cylinders. Unfortunately, this type of cylinder was very prone to mold growth, and thus few cylinders have survived in a playable condition, and for many the only information known is that some cylinder was released with that catalogue number.
Any releases prior to January 17, 1890 remain unknown, if there were any. It is likely that there were.
From January 1890 until October 1890, white wax cylinders were released.
On January 17, 1890, the first group was released and assigned catalogue numbers with type and chronological number per type: Brass Band, Cornet, Clarionet (sic), Flute, Parlor Orchestra, Piano Duett, Piccolo, Violin, Vocal Quartettes.
All January releases were renumbered on June 18, 1890, when the second group was released and assigned catalogue numbers with type and chronological number per type: Band, Cornet, Clarinet, Flute, Parlor Orchestra, Piccolo, Violin, Vocal Quartettes.
Some June releases were discontinued for some as of August 18, 1890:
- Brass Band: 5, 9
- Cornet: 2, 11
- Clarinet: 3, 6, 9
- Flute: 2, 3, 5, 8
- Parlor Orchestra: 5, 8, 16
- Piccolo: 1, 4, 6, 8, 10
- Violin: 4
- Vocal Quartettes: 4
The remaining June releases were renumbered by the October 13, 1890 catalog, when the third group was released. These now were numbered chronologically, beginning with number 20, with the type of each indicated in the catalog:
- Brass Band: 20, 21, 27, 28, 31, 35, 36, 41, 42, 46, 48, 52, 53, 54, 65, 67, 69, 75, 78, 79
- Cornet: 30, 33, 38, 44, 55, 60, 66, 77
- Clarinet: 34, 47, 50, 64, 73
- Flute: 37, 74
- Parlor Orchestra: 23, 32, 39, 45, 51, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 70, 72
- Piccolo: 22, 25, 29, 40, 63, 68, 76
- Violin: 26, 43, 49
- Vocal Quartettes: none
- Unindicated: 24, 71
The 1890 distributor catalogues and suppliments do not indicate performers.
From April 1892 onwards, North American Phonograph Company releases used brown wax cylinders and were assigned catalogue numbers using a strictly chronological scheme, from 1 to 1458. At least three popular cylinders were also later reissued with the same catalogue number, but a different performer; the known releases which had such dual releases were catalogue numbers 344, 346, and 434.