“His Master’s Voice?” was a popular advertising campaign for phonographs in early 20th century America and was known in Richmond. Manufactured in Camden, New Jersey, this example of a floor model Victor-Victrola was one of the most popular, affordable phonograph players available to middle class Americans at the time of the First World War.
The foundation of the Victor Talking Machine Company (VTMC) dates back to the late 1880’s when Emile Berliner invented the mass-producible flat phonograph record. This technology led to the founding of VTMC in 1901 by Eldridge Johnson in Camden with a world-wide product distribution.
The rise of an American middle class during the early 20th century made affordable, at-home entertainment desirable. The “Ragtime” music craze, begun by African American communities in cities like Richmond, caught the attention of Caucasian audiences. By the 1900’s Richmonders could purchase recordings from popular artists like Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin to play at home.