Item Details

Early Talking Books For the Blind Records [together with] WWII US Army Military Phonograph [together with] Related Ephemera.

Washington DC: Library of Congress/Pacific Sound Co., nd [circa 1935-1958]. Includes a *working* Mechanical Field Phonograph (Portelec Pacific Sound Co Model 9C), albums (on red vinyl), a considerable amount of ephmera laid in related to the development of a later model of the portable player (all elements of this came from the archives of Bowen Manufacturing who produced sound equipement for this program for many years). We have never seen as broad/rich a collection as found here.
The record player is spring-driven, the crank fitting into a 'home hole. in the top of the main box, which can be removed, threaded into place, abd cranked to tighten the spring. Extra needles included (which is good, as the needles only last about 8 albums). The first models, as found here, played 33 rpm records, long before they were availoable to the general public.
"The Pratt-Smoot Act became law on March 3, 1931. The Librarian of Congress was authorized to arrange with other libraries “to serve as local or regional centers for the circulation of such books, under such conditions and regulations as he may prescribe.” On the following day, a Joint Resolution was passed appropriating $100,000 for fiscal 1932 to carry out the provisions of the act to provide books for blind adults. The “Project, Books for the Adult Blind” was established. This program would become the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS).
Two important developments occurred in 1933: the establishment of a uniform system of braille (Standard English Braille) for all English-speaking countries and the development of the talking book. The second development is described as “the recording on a disc of the voice of a good reader, and its reproduction at will through the instrumentality of a reproducing machine or phonograph.”

Experimentation on the development of sound recordings for the blind had begun many years earlier. Aided by the Carnegie Corporation, AFB and the Braille Institute of America had been researching the development of suitable records and reproducers. Finally, in 1933, AFB produced two types of machines – one spring driven and the other a combination electric radio and phonograph. A durable record was perfected, recorded at 150 grooves to an inch, so that a book of 60,000 words could be contained on eight or nine double-faced, twelve-inch records. The turntable ran at 33-1/3 revolutions per minute, which permitted thirty minutes of reading time on each record.
The basic Act was amended several times, not only increasing appropriations, but also deleting the word “adult,” on July 3, 1952, thus opening the service to blind children. And in 1962, the program was authorized by Congress to collection and maintain a library of musical scores and instructional texts for the use of blind residents of the United States." [National Libary Service, LoC]
This program...and these machines...represented a monumental shift in 'book access' for the blind. While the WWII phonographs turn up on the market occasionally, early Talking Book albums rarely do. This combination of the player, a set of Talking Books, and manufacturing ephemera is unique and quite remarkable. Very Good. Moderate shelf/edfge wear, few dings to record player, light wear to contents, else bright and unmarred. Record player in wooden box with metal trimwork and buckles, leather handle; Album case in hard board, metal hardware, and cloth strap; various pamplets in printed wraps, records in sleeves. Var. pag. Illus. (b/w plates). Item #10350

Price: $500.00

See all items in ABAA-VBF