Vintage 1940s Record Cutter
By James Grahame
Phil Nohl entered our White Stripes contest last month by sending a photo of his Wilcox-Gay Recordio model 6A10 record cutter. He included a description worth sharing:
"This model was manufactured in the mid-1940s. Pictured with the record cutter is a Recordisc cutting needle store display (complete with packages of needles), the original Astatic microphone, two blank discs, and a hardcover book titled "How To Make Good Recordings."
Record cutters played an important role in American history, allowing average Americans their first opportunity to record in the privacy of their homes. Folks would record celebrations such as birthday parties or New Year's Eve, stage musical presentations (stringed instruments were extremely popular), send audio messages to relatives, or simply record everyday conversation. Since the machines were portable, they were taken into such places as public schools, fraternal lodges, offices, and even bars. It was also possible to record songs and shows off the radio. Besides regular commercial programming, it was popular to record special events such as heavyweight fights, World Series games, or important political speeches. Anything you can imagine was recorded.
Local music shops across the country could order blank specialty discs with the name of the store imprinted on the label, making it nearly impossible to collect one of every label every produced. Large companies such as Zenith, Audiodisc, Wilcox-Gay, Silvertone, Duodisc, Recordisc, and a host of others produced blank discs on a massive scale. Sizes ranged from six inches to twelve inches, and one could record at either 78rpm or 45rpm depending on the type of record cutter. More professional cutters allowed one to record at 33rpm as well.
As a serious Home Recording disc collector, I can honestly say that my collection is the largest in the world. I stopped counting a few years ago when I hit 4,000 one-of-a-kind discs. I own discs from every part of the country and several collections from Canada. I also use the pictured machine to record my own discs. In my extended collection is a lifetime supply of unused cutting needles and well over a thousand blank discs of all kinds.
The record cutter was fun for the entire family, and surviving discs capture the true spirit of Americans living in the mid-twentieth century."
- Phil Nohl