Talking Wax

By Keith Kramer

This is a very rare publication transcribed by Keith Kramer and kindly made available to us.


Record collectors and students of phonographic history will find original and interesting material in the publication of Talking Wax, a very obscure book later cited as a source for other works. Generally considered the first book (1945) on the history of phonographs, "Talking Wax, or The Story of the Phonograph" by Leroy Hughbanks, had an unlikely beginning and unfortunately must not have received the notice that it deserved.

Written by a blind pastor (and lifelong phono-enthusiast) from a tiny Kansas town over the span of eight years, the book was well-researched, sources including patents, industry and trade publications, personal interviews and first-hand experiences. Talking Wax was printed only once and published by Hobson Book Press, a small Kansas family business noted for printing small press runs of several hundred copies, not unlike a vanity press today; the company folded two years later.

Of particular interest in the book are formulas for wax and shellac records, overviews of technologies that we now know never succeeded in the marketplace, and reminiscences of the liberating impact of phonographs and later radios upon the author's life. Only a few copies of this book can be located today, mainly in university libraries scattered across the country. It has been one of my goals for the past 35 years since reading it, to find another copy, transcribe it and share with fellow collector/historians. Enjoy! --Keith Kramer

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