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January 21, 2007



These type of recordings were usually not made at the home, but rather at recording booths that were found at amusment parks and other entertainment and shopping centers. You paid a fee and went in and recorded whatever you wanted and then waited while the machine cut the record for you. I have some old recordings that my grandfather made like this

 Joseph Gallero

A Velvet Underground acetate like this was sold for thousands recently. I'm wondering if this cute birthday acetate is worth big money, too? Thanks Otto for all your hard work bringing us this fine music. - Joe in Brooklyn


besides the sentimental value, a 50 year old family acetate like this is worth the dollar paid for it. stick Lou Reed on it and it's value will increase considerably(!)that antique shop where you scored this one is probably kicking itself now. Something like this is absolutely priceless ::: way to go Otis!

pea hix

i collect home-made acetates as well, and actually they're far more common to find than the amusement-park type (which are usually 5" discs called "voice-o-grams"). before tape recorders became available in the early 50s, this was the most common way to make your own recordings. the most popular recording machines were the wilcox-gay recordio and the packard-bell phonocord. i even have a sound effects kit made by wilcox-gay, which is a little box with various sound making things in it, like whistles, bells, etc. it also has an instruction booklet on how to achieve different sound effects. my favorite tip is "to make the sound of tearing paper, tear some paper." they also marketed scripts for short radio plays that you could rehearse and record with your friends/family. i have a few of these as well.

anyway, otis' disc here definitely was made at home. it's a relatively elaborate production for these types of discs. usually what you get is either a recording of music off the radio (tommy dorsey & bing crosby are ubiquitous), or some very shy dinner party guests saying "i don't know what to say! how much time is left on this?"

but the fun part of these is you NEVER know what you're going to get, and when you do find a gem, it's often quite interesting, because the 2-3 minute time limit of the recording, and the fact that you couldn't go back and re-record over a side meant that ambitious folks often put some effort into making sure they practiced what they were going to record, and made their point succinctly. after tape recorders hit the scene (early 50s), and especially when cassettes came out (1964), folks got really lazy about their home recordings, often making rambling tape letters with little forethought or discipline.

anyway, these kind of acetates are worth little monetarily, unless they happen to contain something of unique historical value or universal appeal.


this one's so sweet and utterly adorable. my husband's birthday is this week and I'll play it at the party! simply wonderful. THANKS!

Katherine the Great

I've already copied fragments out of these recordings and will use them as system alerts and ringtones. I must agree, Otto that these are some of the cutest recordings you've posted yet.

Please, more!

Jef Elf

Great stuff, as usual. What's up with all of those holes? Are they optional holes, kind of like a spirograph record or something?

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