EXCEPTIONAL ARCHIVE OF SIX MEMORANDA PERTAINING TO THE EDISON SERVICE RECORD CLUB, ONE OF THE FIRST RECORD CLUBS TO BE ESTABLISHED, EACH SIGNED, INITIALED, AND/OR FEATURING AN AUTOGRAPH NOTE BY THOMAS EDISON
EDISON, Thomas Alva. Archive of autograph and signed memoranda pertaining to the Edison Service Record Club. Orange, New Jersey, September-December, 1922. Six company memos bearing Edison's autograph notes and initials on an assortment of office paper (lined and unlined), measuring from 5 by 8 inches to 8-1/2 by 11 inches, with writing on rectos only; pp. 9. $7500.
Rare and wonderful archive of six memoranda from the Edison Service Record Club, of the earliest record clubs extant, with all but one memoranda signed or initialed by Thomas Edison in pencil and each featuring autograph an autograph note ranging from a simple approval comment ("OK") to a 61-word opinion on the financial impact of members substituting and/or stealing records.
These six memoranda were all written by B. Wolnitzky, a laboratory assistant at the Edison Service Record Club. They were all addressed to Thomas Edison and concern problems with the club and request advice or assistance with business-related issues. In the first typed memo, Wolnitzky predicts issues with the mail order scheme and worries that customers will exchange their own records for the club's records. He proposes several ways of discouraging this behavior as well as solutions for making Edison records more visually distinctive. Edison's autograph note at the bottom of the memo reads: "I think we will receive records back after 24 have received them [correcting a numerical assertion in Wolnitzky's memo]. We have a full account for 6 months of the substitution of —————— records & stolen etc & find it amounts to 8% of the total per year or 19-. This is not serious & I cannot see how it is to be avoided even if we mark them red." The second typed memo, Wolnitzky asked for permission to be written in on the financial details of the mail order business via Edison's written "OK," which he plans to show to a J.V. Miller. Edison responds, "JV Miller-OK. TAE." The third typed memo relates to a questionnaire that Wolnitzky evidently sent to dealers requesting details about their attitudes toward the Record Club. Edison has scrawled across it: "Put on desk. Show this to Wolnitzky. Wolnitzky see me. Edison." The next memo, from Wolnitzky to B.A. Bailey of the Sales Experimental Department apparently also made its way past Edison's desk. It deals with the fact that phonograph salesmen had apparently promised buyers of instruments free Monthly Sets of Records from Edison Laboratories. This promise was made without the awareness of the Record Club. Edison notes at the bottom of the memo: "I think a letter should be got up by you which I can send to my salesmen teachers. I am sending out also to Bailey so he can warn his men—E." In the penultimate memo, written in pencil directly to Edison on three pages, Wolnitzky proposes the idea of dispensing with salesmen and instead using letters when explaining the cafeteria plan part of the Record Club to dealers. He also suggests offering the incentive of a circulating library for dealers who organize a sufficient number of clubs. Edison responds in the top margin of the first page: "Denver Dry G Co are jobbers. Wolnitzky I believe you have not understood me in this whole business as I infer from your conversation and this – see me – E." The sixth and final memo, also handwritten in pencil, deals with the cafeteria plan and its associated dealers. Wolnitzky has selected only those dealers he feels are working properly and has sent their pay cards to Edison for endorsement. Edison has signed at the bottom of the letter: "OK TAE."
Mild toning and light wear to edges. A near-fine archive, most desirable with so much autograph material by Thomas Edison.