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MMD > Archives > October 2001 > 2001.10.03 > 01Prev  Next

New Tel-Electric Rollography
By Bob Billings

Our latest Rollography book is finally done.  It is a large book on
a very small subject: a history of the Tel-Electric Company and a
catalog of its rolls.  It is over 600 pages long; about 450 pages of
that are a catalog of the rolls produced by Tel-Electric between 1905
and 1917.

The rest of the book is a history of the company, with many photographs
of the mechanisms, and some photographs relating to the company taken
while it was still alive.  This includes some photographs of the master
making machines and a production perforator.  (It's amazing that they
survived, and more so their quality.)  Also included are schematics of
the various 65- and 88-note players, and a description of how they

Tel-Electric probably produced around 8,000 titles, of which we show
about 6,000.  Most of the popular music has faded into the dusty bins
of history, but they had a remarkable list of classical numbers, most
of which are still of interest.  Some of the composers we'd never heard
of until we started on this project.  The catalog is definitely a
period piece, a snapshot of what music people with money liked in the
first two decades of the 1900s.

We were fortunate to find several people around the company's base in
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who had important historical material about
Tel-Electric.  One of them was the widow of the founder's grandson.
She allowed us access to material her father-in-law had collected over
the years about the company.  Another was a couple in a nearby town who
bought papers from the estate of a person who worked for the company
from the beginning to the end.

Art Sanders provided all the material about Tel-Electric he collected
while his museum was still in business.  This included many letters to
and from the founder's son.  Many others, too many to mention here,
also contributed to the making of this book.

The book is hardbound, though not in the class of Art Reblitz' latest.
The price is $75, plus $3.50 postage for shipment to U.S. addresses.

Bob & Ginny Billings <>
14010 Rim Rock Drive
Reno, NV 89511  USA
tel.: 775-853-4659

(Message sent Wed 3 Oct 2001, 04:53:13 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  New, Rollography, Tel-Electric

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