No one's posted on this for some time but I spent a few hours doing some real old-school web surfing last night and had an amazing time.
The stories about the traces on the sooted paper are all true. It's not a hoax. It's fully documented, in scientific and historical detail, on all the major websites on early recorded sound.
The actual clip is downloadable. It dates from 1860! Ten seconds of very, very lo-fi (little more than pitch is detectable) singing. There's even a recording from 1857 but none of that is discernable.
On other sites, I downloaded the full Crystal Palace recording from June 1888 - it's in several sections and in total runs to a good eight minutes. I also have a recording of Big Ben from 1890, Frank Lambert making a voice recording in 1877 (the year Edison made his lost 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' recording on different equipment), the sound (just) of a train in an urban US area in 1874... it's been staggering. However, the quality is almost non-existant.
One thing I did also note is that there is a UK recording (I forget who of - it might be Henry Irving) from THE ACTUAL DAY POLLY NICHOLS WAS MURDERED. I haven't traced it yet, but it exists.
If anyone wants links to these sites, ask away. I've been absolutely fascinated.
__________________ Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.
Interesting stuff, Philip. At least Henry Irving can now be removed from the list of suspects!
You may be interested to know that two artistes from the original run of 'Yeomen of the Guard' made recordings:- Richard Temple, who played Sergeant Meryll, and Courtice Pounds who played Colonel Fairfax.
Pounds' recordings date from around 1915, and famously include a few numbers from 'Chu Chin Chow'. Unfortunately, I have only one of these. Temple fared less well in the recording studio, and only recorded four sides. Two of these are G&S numbers (from 'Mikado' & 'Pirates of Penzance'), Non piu andrai (in English) from 'Marriage of Figaro', and 'I am a Friar of Orders Grey', a popular song of the time. His entire output was recorded around 1902/3.
If you (or anyone) would like to hear these and others from my collection, I would be more than willing to put them on a cassette tape for you.