Tin Box Lid

Tin Box Lid

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This lid is all that remains of a box the Volta Laboratory Associates delivered to the Smithsonian for safekeeping on October 30, 1881. Inside the box was a copper disc recording (Cat. 312119) and a new kind of sound recording and playback device, which they called the graphophone (Cat. 312123).
The box—along with two others deposited by the Volta Associates in case of a patent challenge—remained sealed and stored in a Smithsonian vault until 1937, when Alexander Graham Bell’s daughters and a great grandson witnessed the opening.
Ink inscription reads: "Washington, D.C./October 19th 1881,/Deposited on behalf of Alexander Graham Bell,/Sumner Tainter, and Chichester A. Bell, /members of the Volta Laboratory /Association, by the undersigned--/Sumner Tainter/Chichester A. Bell"
Leslie J. Newville, “Development of the Phonograph at Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory,” in Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, United States National Museum Bulletin 218, Paper 5 (1959): 69-79.
Wile, Raymond R. "The Development of Sound Recording at the Volta Laboratory," Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal 21, No. 2, 1990, pp. 208-225.
Object Name
tin box lid
overall: 12 1/4 in x 16 1/2 in; 31.115 cm x 41.91 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Hear My Voice
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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