Monday, May 21, 2007

Hit of the week Portable Gramophone

Last year Bob E. from Georgia visited me at my house in the Netherlands, talking about our common Hit of the week passion and rummaging in my collection. We visited the Doctor Jazz Reunion in Wageningen ( centre of The Netherlands). Yesterday Bob mailed me that he had purchaised a Hit of the week portable Gramophone and asked for information.

Durium Products Corporation and its successor Durium Products Incorporated were a firm, active in the US during the Depression Years, between 1929 and mid 1932. These companies were in fact advertisement agencies and sold gramophone records and related products like gramophone needles and gramophones.

Thanks to the use of Durium, a kind of acetate, it became possible to make unbreakable records on a cardboard base. These records were not the latest thing in this field as Flexo, Goodson and Filmophone ( in Europe), to name some, were other unbreakable records on a plastic base, but these records were of an inferior quality. In 1930 Durium Products Corporation started a weekly release, that contained the Hit of the Week. These records were sold at news stands. They also sold record needles and tried to get one's share in the gramophone sales by offering a cheap portable gramophone.

We know little about these protable wind-up gramophones as showed on the pictures. There are no indications that they had their own factory, so probably the machines were regular models made elsewhere and labeled as Hit of the week. The diafragm has the name Durium on it. I have another picture of a Hit of the week gramophone, although sold in black, but that one seems to be more reliable. As far as I can see the diagram looks the same. It would be great if Bob could find some indications about the source of these gramophones.

European ( Italian) durium Portable Gramophone ( ca. 1935)

In Slough ( a suburb of London - Great Britain) another Durium company ( Durium Products (GB) Ltd) started its activities based on its US example, with a weekly record ( labeled durium ( small letters). There are no indications that the Durium Products (GB) Ltd sold gramophones, as the only Durium gramophones are advertised during the mid 1930s in Italy, when the English Durium had been broken and several local firms continued to make cardboard records, like the Italian one. These European Durium Portable Gramophones , here on an Italian durium cover, look different.
It would be great if Bob's copy of the Hit of the week Portable Gramophone should have some original Hit of the week needles. As you might know needles had to replaced each time a record was played. The Hit of the week needles were sold in little sacks and contained ca. 80 needles. They were sold in sacks of 5 ¢ and 10 ¢ ( incl. a record lock ) I could obtain such a little envelope at an auction, but when it arrived it was still closed. I never took courage to open the sealed envelope - so I have never seen a Hit of the week needle. Maybe Bob can help me !!

Dear Bob, do me a pleasure and don't play your valuable Hit of the week records on this wind-up portable gramophone. Use an electric turntable with 78rpm please. I have posted a fragment how to play your portable gramophone and a fragment that learns that you have to prepare yourself before you get into an electronica shop to buy a 78rpm turntable equipment. I've warned you

1930s Electrola wind up gramophone

In the gramophone shop:

You can find more information about these card board records in the online Hit of the week - Durium discography.
If you want to know what a record lock is, please contact me and I will blog this subject as a web log contribution.
(Commercial released )Hit of the week Records ( on CD) in my collection:
  • Hit Of The Week/The Complete Hit of the week recordings - volume 1 (2) - volume 2 (2) (Archeophone)
  • Hit Of The Week/Paper Hits volume 1 - volume 2 - volume 3 ( Audiopark)
  • Hit Of The week/The Best of the Paper Hits vol. 1 - vol. 2 ( New Life Recordings)
  • Hit Of The Week/Shine on Harvest Moon (Swingtime)
  • Hit Of The Week/Music Box Theatre vol 1 - vol 3 ( Music Box Theatre)
  • Hit Of The Week/Toppers Van Toen-6 (Toppers van Toen - Archief Historische Geluidsdragers)
  • Hit Of The Week Record / vol. 1 ( D. Ward )
This contribution has also been posted at my Hit of the week - Durium web log.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert


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