A little hard work can go a long way

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last week two very close friends from LaPlace presented me with a special gift of a Brunswick phonograph for my museum. It is a model No. 101, dated Feb. 13, 1923, with serial no. 102727. It is a beautiful piece with all the details and plays the Victor records perfectly after you wind it up.

I thought I would do some resear-ch on old phonographs and share the findings with my readers.

Then you might want to check the phonographs that you might have and know the history. There were several phonographs on the market, and they were Brunswick, Victor Talking Machine, Edison and Columbia. Since my gift was a Brunswick, let me tell you how it came about.

John Moses Brunswick was born in 1819 in Bremgarter, Switzerland. At the age of 14, he moved to the United States and landed in New York. He first worked as an errand boy at a butcher shop and soon moved to Philadelphia and worked at a carriage shop.

For the next several years, he moved and worked at other carriage shops. He opened his own shop in 1845 and expanded the business to tables, cabinetwork, chairs and etc. He also started making billiard equipment. In 1879, he would have the world’s largest billiard equipment company.

Brunswick joined forces with Julius Balke in 1873. Most Brunswick phonographs have a decal under the lid on the lower back panel that says “Brunswick” in large gold script. Then in small black print the name “Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company.”

By April 3, 1916, Brunswick executives decided to plunge into the phonograph market full force. Brunswick records first appeared

in stores in January 1920 and sold for $75 cents. In April of 1930, Warner Brothers Pictures paid the Brunswick Company $10 million for its musical division. In 1995, Brunswick celebrated its 150 years as a company. If the company had not stepped into the music business, American’s might not have enjoyed some wonderful listening experiences.

So, just think, it all started with an errand boy at a butcher shop and grew into a prosperous business with a little imagination. So never forget that with a little hard work, determination and starting at the bottom, it might all pay off on day, and this article might have been about you.

Stop by the Louisiana Treasures Museum, and you, too, can take a step back in time by enjoying the wonderful music that comes from my 1923 Brunswick phonograph. Wayne Norwood can be reached by calling 225-294-8352 for more information on tours and hours of operation.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.