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Though not a founder, Edison was involved with the North American Phonograph Co. (NAPC) prior to its organization. Incorporated in New Jersey on July 14, 1888, the NAPC was the marketing intermediary between the Edison Phonograph Works and the regional companies operating in the United States and Canada. The company's founding directors included Jesse H. Lippincott, the sole licensee of the American Graphophone Co., who acquired the Edison Phonograph Co. on June 28, 1888 and, along with it, exclusive rights to develop the phonograph patents commercially in the United States and Canada. The NAPC subsequently acquired Lippincott's phonograph rights and his interest in the Edison Phonograph Co. It also joined Lippincott in several contracts with Edison and the Edison Phonograph Works, and it became liable for its own as well as much of Lippincott's financial indebtedness to Edison.
Edison eventually assumed financial and administrative control of the NAPC. Between December 1891 and June 1892 he became a member of its board of directors and executive committee, and he succeeded Samuel Insull as president. In August 1894 Edison, the company's largest individual bondholder, called his bonds immediately due and payable. The company was placed in receivership, and Edison resisted the receiver's requests for the assignment of his phonograph patents. With the founding of the National Phonograph Co. in 1896, Edison resumed dual control of marketing and manufacturing the phonograph. He also inherited legal disputes with numerous NAPC "sub-companies" or "subsidiaries." These regional companies, which were organized, licensed, and sometimes partly owned by NAPC, operated as franchises with exclusive rights to lease phonographs and graphophones within their respective territories.
The records of the NAPC and its subsidiary companies cover the period 1887-1905, with most items dating from 1888-1894. They consist of board minutes, financial records, legal documents, scrapbooks, and other items. Also included is a stock transfer book from the Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Co., the firm that controlled distribution of the nickel-in-the-slot machine. A finding aid is available at the Edison National Historical Park.