Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Phonograph record manufacture

December 7th, 2012 by


This stylishly dressed young woman was photographed working on the production line at a factory where phonograph records were made. Her machine is labelled ‘No. 3.’ She appears to be polishing the edges of the records, one of the stages near the end of the process.

The photograph was one of a set of ten that was part of a didactic display illustrating the manufacture of phonograph records. The display was prepared and donated to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, (now The Powerhouse) by the Columbia Gramophone Co (Aust) LTD in August 1927  following a proposal from the Arthur Penfold, the acting Curator, in May of the same year. As well as photographs, the display included sample vials of raw materials such as mica, carbon black, shellac and fullersite.

Penfold wrote to Mr Power, the manager of the Columbia Gramophone Company:


:….one of the objects of this museum is the exhibition of well-known technical products in their various stages of manufacture, so arranged as to be of the greatest educational and technological value to the General Public.

He went on to assure Mr Powell that the display would be suitably acknowledged.

The speed with which the display was produced and delivered may have been a contributing factor to the character of the photographs. The camera is slightly tilted, the composition is haphazard and the figure of a woman on the left is blurred from movement. Aesthetic considerations were clearly secondary to its educational purpose.

Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian

Photographer unknown, Collection: H5741

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