[The following note describes a series of company records and has no document records attached to it. To see the document records in the volumes and folders described here, use the "Which Series Notes?" button to enter the Series Notes or use the "Next Text" button to move to the first item in the series.]
The National Phonograph Co. (NPCo) was organized in New Jersey on January 25, 1896. It was the Edison-controlled successor to the North American Phonograph Co. At the first meeting of the board of directors on January 28, 1896, the company purchased Edison's claims against the North American Phonograph Co. The founding directors resigned, and three Edison associates were elected in their place: Walter S. Mallory, John F. Randolph, and William E. Gilmore. Mallory was also elected president, while Randolph became secretary and treasurer and Gilmore assumed the office of general manager. Within six months after the formation of NPCo, its profits were assigned to Edison in exchange for his technical improvements to the phonograph. In June 1899 Gilmore succeeded Mallory as president. He resigned in July 1908 and was succeeded by Frank L. Dyer, Edison's general counsel. In 1911 NPCo merged with several other Edison companies to become Thomas A. Edison, Inc. The records cover the period 1896-1911 and include minutes, correspondence, letterbooks, and financial materials. The minute book, along with financial documents and correspondence for the period 1896-1898, appears in Thomas A. Edison Papers, Part III (1887-1898). Related company correspondence can be found in the Document File Series.
A finding aid for the archival record group is available at the Edison National Historical Park. Seven cash books pertaining to daily expenditures at the company's recording studio during the period 1904-1910 can be found in the archival record group, Recording Division and Related Offices.
The records are arranged in three series: (1) Correspondence; (2) Foreign Department Letterbooks; and (3) Financial Records.
Correspondence. These records consist of unbound documents, primarily correspondence, covering the period 1900-1911. The documents are arranged by year and within each year are divided into "domestic" and "foreign" folders. The "domestic" folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to the technical development and commercial exploitation of phonographs in the United States. Included are items pertaining to the manufacture, distribution, and sale of phonographs and sound recordings, as well as to litigation, patents, and other legal matters. The "foreign" folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to the commercial exploitation of phonographs and supplies in countries other than the United States. Included are items pertaining to the Foreign Department, a New York- based department established in 1900 to deal with non-European markets. Also included are letters and other documents regarding the London-based National Phonograph Co., Ltd., as well as French, German, and other European-based sales and manufacturing companies loosely controlled from London.
Foreign Department Letterbooks. These four letterbooks contain tissue copies of outgoing correspondence generated by Walter Stevens, manager of the Foreign Department, and his assistant manager, Louis Reichert. The books cover the periods May 1908, January 1909, March 1909, and September 1910-March 1911. The letters in the first three books pertain to the foreign sale of phonographs, recordings, motion pictures, numbering machines, storage batteries, and other Edison products. Most of the correspondence in the fourth book concerns storage batteries.
Financial Records. These records consist of bound ledgers and journals and unbound statements. Some of the entries in the ledgers and journals pertain to accounts with other Edison companies, including the Edison Manufacturing Co., Edison Phonograph Co., Edison Phonograph Works, New Jersey Patent Co., and Ott Manufacturing Co. Also included are accounts with the National Phonograph Co., Ltd., in London; the Compagnie Française du Phonographe Edison in Paris; and the Edison Gesellschaft in Berlin. The records are arranged in the following groups: (1) statements (1900- 1911); (2) state and federal filings (1905-1910); (3) general ledgers (1899-1911); and (4) journals (1903-1911). Among the items not selected are three Foreign Department letterbooks (1905-1908) containing bills of lading; twenty-five cash books (1896-1911); and journals and ledgers for individual or specialized accounts.