Digital transfer saves oldest ever Christmas sound recordings from 1902

first_imgBack in the early 1900’s, the Wall family from London used to record their Christmas parties using the height of technology at the time: a phonograph. The recording media of choice was wax cylinders, which as you’d expect, don’t survive very long unless looked after well.The Museum of London had the Wall family’s phonograph and 26 cylinders full of sound recordings donated to them back in 2008. The sound is thought to be the oldest Christmas recordings on record, as they date back to 1902. There’s even one from Christmas Day that year of the family singing Angels from the Realms of Glory and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.It was an unusual find at the time, not only because of the age and good condition, but because the phonograph and cylinders were so expensive in 1902. To record so much, let alone own one in the first place, required considerable wealth.One of the wax cylinders, dated 1904The museum has had the phonograph for four years, but couldn’t play the fragile cylinders in the phonograph for fear of breaking them. But now technology has come to the rescue and allowed the sound recordings to be digitally transferred with the help of the British Library. In the process, 24 of the 26 cylinders were recovered.As well as the video above detailing the discovery, the museum has made each of the recordings available to listen to on their website. The quality is fantastic, especially if you consider a lot of what you are listening to is over 100 years old (the cylinders span the years 1902 to 1917).More at Museum of Londonlast_img read more