Skip to comments.Earliest Known Audio Recording of Christmas Found and Digitized
Posted on 12/26/2012 2:03:44 PM PST by NYer
Recently discovered wax cylinders have been shown to contain what could be the earliest audio recordings of Christmas in the world. The Museum of London discovered 24 wax cylinders dating back to 1902 that contain a British family’s home phonograph recordings taken at Christmas. The recordings are considered incredibly rare because wax cylinders are fragile. They are made of wax after all, and as such they don’t store very well. Finding them over one hundred years later in playable condition is a Christmas miracle of science.
The recordings were made by the Wall family of New Southgate and Friern Barnet in north London on a phonograph during holiday celebrations. The recordings include the family singing carols, wishing each other holiday greetings, and laughing at the novelty of the new technology. One record was even made by taking the phonograph out in a baby stroller to record the church bells ringing in the New Year back in 1904.
The cylinders and the phonograph on which they were recorded were donated to the Museum of London back in 2008 by David Brown, the grandson of Cromwell Wall who made the recordings. It wasn’t until the cylinders were converted to a digital format that the museum realized they were Christmas recordings. Another benefit of the digitization process is that the museum has made all 24 recordings available on their website.
Julia Hoffbrand, the Curator of Social and Working History at the Museum of London, said, “On hearing some of the musical recordings, classical music experts have commented that the sound quality is outstanding — superior to many musical recordings made for sale at the time.” It seems like Cromwell Wall really knew his way around a phonograph.
Take a few minutes out of your holiday season to give a listen to some of these recordings. You’d need a DeLorean or TARDIS to bring you back any closer to 1902 London at Christmas time.
If you think you have an earlier home recording of Christmas, or anything else, contact the Museum of London at email@example.com. They’d love to hear from you.
just kind of interesting
The little urchins are shouting, not singing, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Family gatherings were as bad then as they are now.
If you listen carefully, there is something about airing of grievances and feats of strength.
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Thanks GeronL, pingworthy, if only I still pinged. :') Thanks NYer for the topic. The Edison machines are fascinating, but the flatlanders won out. :')the museum has made all 24 recordings available on their websiteJust adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
Is there an aluminum pole?
Try this link, starting at about 1:35:
And check out the photo.
Voices from the past. A family Christmas, 110 years ago. Those voices you hear are of little children who have long since lived their lives, grown old, and died.
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” apparently goes back to the 16th century.
Very cool - seems like more than a singalong (harmonies, etc.).
Amazing how the reverence and joy seems to come across the ages.
Bump for later
Funny. That was the same thing I thought as I listened. Our time here is but a blink of an eye.
I always think that way, too, especially when I watch real old movies. You may have seen this, but it's always been a favorite film for me:
Haha...very cool! Thanks for that link...I have seen the Barcelona video, but not this one. Those people are crazy!
Here is the same footage, but with far better music.
You can sit back and just mellow your way down Market Street:
Thanks. I hadn’t seen it. That’s pretty amazing.
Four days after that was filmed, between half and 3/4ths of those people would have been left homeless by the earthquake and subsequent fire. There they were, going about their business, thinking about what shopping they were going to do or what horse they were going to sell, never suspecting that in 4 days their entire world would be devastated.
I dare say that a few of the people captured in that film were undoubtedly, days later, among the dead.
OH NYER I saw that on BBC world news over the weekend