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1968-2008

Halloween 2022 update.

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After making friends with a fellow Edison Guy who actually owned the original machine from the series (see details in the update toward the bottom of the notes on this page), I was inspired to go back to the Drawing Board and re-create the phonograph more faithfully and sold the Home model D I had used for it and pulled out a Home B case I'd been saving for another re-creation if I ever wanted to do it. That case had enough wear, rather than being real nice, to "fit" something found in a haunted room going back to 1897. I then started hunting for a decent Home model B, found one at a nice price, and yanked it from its later case and moved it over to the early banner case, got it running right after some work, and it was ready to go. I then went to work trying to rig a back crane for the machine--a pain since those were not really designed to work well with one; they usually had front cranes or floor cranes--and the result is what you see below. This is about as faithful to the original as you can get to replicate the machine used in Dark Shadows. The result is shown below.

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All in all, this has been a great labor of love, a tribute to all the excitement and entertainment I got from Barnabas, Quentin and the rest back in the late 1960s.

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I will soon be filming this playing SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT on a cylinder in a friend's Victorian mancave and post it, and the circle will be complete.

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Enjoy, fellow fans.

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If they ever do DS conventions again and one comes to California, I'll see if they'd like me to haul this thing down for display!

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And if anyone knows David Selby--send him a link. I'd love to know what he thinks!

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“He says his name is Quentin Collins...”

With those words from 10 year-old Amy Jennings, playing with a candlestick telephone in 1968, the greatest period in television history began.

It was episode 639 of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, and for the following year, evil mute ghosts, vampires, witches, warlocks, phoenixes, werewolves, and Gypsies would entrance and captivate viewers.

Centering around it all would the handsome, roguish character of Quentin Collins (David Selby, star of Raise the Titanic, Falcon Crest)--and his haunted phonograph, a beautiful Edison cylinder phonograph hidden away in a secret room of the west wing of the Collins family mansion where Quentin had been walled up and left to die back in 1898.

In episode 644 we first began to hear the haunting melody of a violin piece being played throughout the Collinwood mansion. This led Nora Jennings and young David Collins to find a secret room in which they discovered the skeleton of Quentin Collins in a chair next to a magnificent red-horned Edison phonograph.

From then on, the music from the haunted phonograph was frequently heard throughout Collinwood as Quentin grew in power, eventually possessing David Collins even as his ghost tormented and murdered several people, including Ezra Braithwaite (Abe Vigoda, star of The Godfather, Barney Miller), an elderly jeweler who was the last living person who actually remembered the original Quentin Collins.

With the looming death of young David, Barnabas Collins entered an I-Ching trance and time-traveled back to 1897 in a desperate attempt to find out what drove Quentin to haunt the Collinwood mansion, and how to stop it…

I was 11 at that time, and like everyone who loved the series, I was absolutely captivated by that incredible phonograph--and I wanted one for Christmas!

I didn’t get it, but as the show went on and that storyline came and went, I never forgot it.

Then, in 1972, when I got my first motorcycle and finally had wheels, I started hitting local antique stores, wanting to at least see an actual phonograph like Quentin’s even if I couldn’t afford it.

I finally found one generally similar at Jean’s Antiques, although it had a large blue horn. The price, I can still remember, was $185--an impossible amount in 1972 for a 15-year-old.

And so I could only dream…

In the years that passed, I became an antique dealer, and hosts of antiques went through my hands--but I never found, let alone even saw, a horn phonograph even remotely like the one I remembered in my youth.

In what was a logical outgrowth of my antique-dealing and fascination with the phonograph, I eventually began collecting and dealing in Edison phonographs. Even so, I was never able to fully replicate the machine even with the advent of the Internet and its opening of up antique markets…until recently.

Now, after literally 40 years of searching, and on the 40th anniversary of the original storyline, I have found one of the same family of horns that Quentin’s phonograph used!

This is was, and is, the hard part of replicating his phonograph. In my life as a antique dealer, I have seen exactly two of these horns. One was unavailable--but the other I was able to buy, and so my 40-year quest came to an end.

Replicating the phonograph

The major problem in replicating the phonograph is that it is impossible to replicate it identically. This is because horns like this were hand-painted. Thus, no two were exactly alike. They did, however, follow general patterns, although the individual artists would apply some artistic liberties to each horn, adding a leaf here, or moving a rosebud there, to give each horn a little bit of individuality. The key to duplicating the phonograph is to find a horn using the same general pattern because this is as close as you will come to duplicating the original.

Quentin's horn was a Hawthorne & Sheble aftermarket horn from around 1907, the same period the phonograph itself was manufactured, so they probably went together and the prop department at the studio likely found them together in some New York antique store.

Hawthorne & Sheble, though only in business for a few years before being forced under by Edison,* are responsible for the invention of the beautiful large flower horns of the early 1900s. Unfortunately, there is very limited information out there on the company, and while each horn pattern was given a specific number, I do not know of any reference source that lists pattern numbers and photos so that the pattern number of Quentin's horn can be known with certainty. The pattern number was listed on the original horn decals, but those decals are almost always missing from the horns.

Oh, and for the record, Elizabeth Stoddard wrongly refers to the Edison phonograph as a gramophone early in the Quentin episodes. Gramophone was a trademark that originated with the inventor of the disc record phonograph, Emile Berliner. Berliner eventually sold his company to what became the Victor Talking Machine Company (eventually, RCA), which gave us the wonderful outside-horn Victors like the one in my collection below, playing Arthur Collins' Whitewash Man. (By the way, these are incorrectly called Victrolas! Victrolas are inside-horn machines.)

* Edison was irritated with the popularity of H&S's painted horns, since, like Henry Ford,  he felt the customer should be satisfied with simple black.

Quentin's Phonograph

Re-created Phonograph

Model: Edison Home Phonograph Model B with Model C 2-minute reproducer.

The model of the actual phonograph is easily identified due to the decal, and the shape of lift lever to the end gate (which swings open to allow cylinders to be changed). This identifies it as an early Home model B with a banner case from around 1907, 10 years after the story actually takes place.  The Home Model B machine plays two-minute cylinders (though they were often upgraded with new gears to play two- or four-minute cylinders.)

Year of manufacture: 1907

Horn: Hawthorne & Sheble 30" red floral horn from 1907.


Mounting hardware: Unknown.

There are no good photos of the sort of back crane used in the original phonograph; all we see is an extremely long shaft of some sort. I suspect it was a studio mock-up because these horns are not designed to tip up at the high 70-degree angle seen in the famous photo of the original machine. They are balanced to lay flat, held up by a crane and a hanger chain, and trying to play them with the horns tipped up at a cool-looking, but incorrect high angle results in the carriage being lifted from the cylinder, and the needle either skipping or else being lifted off the cylinder altogether. Now in some scenes (Maggie's dream of Quentin's room) the horn is positioned properly and lying flat. That's how it should look.

Note: The sort of Home Phonograph actually available in 1897 would have looked like a big wooden version of an old domed lunchbox, and would have used a 14" witch's hat horn since the big flower horns weren't invented until 1905.

Model: Edison Home Phonograph Model D with Model S 2/4-minute reproducer.

I admit I diverged from an absolutely pure re-creation using a Model B, in favor of the much better Model D. The Model B is a two-minute player, whereas the Model D plays two- or four-miinute cylinders. (On this machine I employed the coveted oversized--and expensive--Model S reproducer, which has two needles in one reproducer to play either 2- or 4-minute cylinders. Otherwise, one must typically swap out different reproducers depending on what length cylinder you are playing, which can be a hassle.)

The model D also has the finest trim design Edison ever came up with, featuring beautiful Edwardian gold filigree with stunning blue accents, compared to a rather bland gold pin striping offered on the Model B. However, the two machines are very similar in hardware, and superficially look identical. The most noticeable difference is the loss of the banner decal on the Model D, replaced with a simple Edison name decal.

Year of manufacture: 1911

Horn: Hawthorne & Sheble 30" red floral horn from 1907.

Mounting hardware: Cygnet horn back bracket using a Model D shaft.

This was a high end Model D machine that came with a Cygnet bracket on back, which is designed for a special rod  (crane) to hold up a graceful vertical horn invented in 1909. However, it functions fine to use as a receptical for the vertical shaft of a normal horn crane, and so I merely inserted a model D crane into the socket, though that is an incorrect configuration. Since I can't identify the original back crane and suspect it was a mock-up in any event, this is no real compromise on originality.

The nagging question

The nagging question is: What happened to the original horn?! As soon as Barnabas arrived in 1897, the red horn vanished, replaced with a normal black Edison flower horn. It did make a reappearance eventually, but then seems to have been exchanged for yet another horn as shown in Stuart Manning's photo below.

Just why they got rid of the first horn is a mystery. cI can only speculate that they thought the original horn was too dinged up and scratched to pass as a "new" horn in 1897, and finally got a better preserved one. (The top of the petals you will notice are flattened out. This is caused by abusive weight pressed on the horn.)

Or perhaps someone knocked into the original horn and caused the phonograph to tumble over, badly denting the horn. That's real easy to do, and was why they stopped making horn phonographs in the first place from the incredible leverage a 30" horn has on a 9"-wide machine. In fact, if you look at the last episode or two before the flashback, Barnabas bumps into the horn as he's wandering around Quentin's room with Maggie. This shows how easy it was to knock the thing over--especially if you had a kid! Allowing a child in a room with a horn phonograph was a catastrophe waiting to happen because the first thing it would do--especially if on the  young side--would be to reach up and grab that horn dangling tantalizingly above him, and it took very little strength to pull the whole shebang diown! This is why Edison dropped the long horns and went to the vertical Cygnet horn, then left that and went to inside-cabinet horns, and the public thought that a good idea. They had really learned to hate these horns despite their beauty. The horns were a big pain in actual  use.

So what happened to the original horn, and if it still exists somewhere, is a mystery. Perhaps someone can ask one of the stars at the next convention for an answer to this. (Or, if you know, please email me!)

Inquiring minds want to know...

Update!

Stuart Manning at Collinwood.net has a studio photo of Quentin posing with a different, better-condition red horn. The replacement horn was certainly newer than the original (probably from around 1910-1912), and has numerous petals (meaning the metal leaves of the horn's construction) compared to the original 11-petal H&S horn from 1907. You'll also note that it lacks roses, and instead has some less-attractive chrysanthemums painted on it. :(  I cannot identify the brand of this third horn, and haven't seen another with that many petals! (Looks like close to 20!) I will certainly be keeping my eye out for any other similar ones. But for now, here are more photos of the replicated original horn and machine.

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I wanna make one for myself. Is that doable?

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Yes and no. The machine is simple. Buy an Edison Home phonograph. The horn is what is virtually impossible. You can find red horns with flowers on them. But finding one of the same pattern is next to impossible. I've only seen maybe 3 or 4 in 20 years and only two, including mine, were in good enough shape to display well. The others were in typical dinged, scratched shape. The horns you will find that are in good shape and passable for the project will not be true Quentin horns. They will be red horns with flowers all the way across the circle of the horn, or similar to the Quentin horn but with a throat that is white and yellow.

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Those are not true Quentin horns!

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The only true Quentin horn is one that follows the exact same pattern and is painted by the same woman who painted his horn*: fully fluorescent red all the way down the throat with three large roses on the left and two on the right. Small rosebuds and leaves will also decorate the horn and will NOT be precisely the same as the original horn. Back then, women were used to pain the horns and they were good at it. They could knock out a horn like this in five minutes using a sort of Bob Ross painting technique. The intention was not to make a duplicate of the same horn over and over again but simply to make the same pattern of three large roses on the left and two on the right, then fill it out with some rosebuds and leaves. The artist could do the latter any way she wanted, was working fast, and this is why the ancillary roses and leaves vary a little from horn to horn. Mine, for instance, has larger leaves at the top left, positioned a bit differently than Quentin's did. But the main roses are always similar. In fact, I could tell just by looking at the two that the same person painted both. The roses are virtually identical. This is what you want--same pattern. Same artist. It should have an H&S decal on it unless it has rubbed off. If you find a real one in typical bad shape it should run around $400 shipped. If in really good shape like mine, or better, it is hard to say what it would cost. Even apart from DS, this is a beautiful horn and would fetch a good price. I forget what I paid for mine in 2008. I think $350 + shipping.

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* They used ladies to paint these. It was a job they could do in a time when there weren't a lot of good jobs available to working women.

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You're more likely, however, to find a Quentin-LIKE horn and have to be happy with that, which will run you some $600 after shipping. On the plus side, you can likely find a decent one rather than have to take what you can get if you actually found a true Quentin horn.

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Lastly, you'll need a crane, Forget about originality and just spend $200 on a standing floor crane. Much safer. So your total cost should run around $900-$1,100. If you really hunt for bargains and are patient you might get it down to $700-$850.

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Would you sell me yours? Or can you hunt the parts up for me?

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I might do that for David Selby :).

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. 2022 Update.

A man who collects Edisons happened to get a hold of me after I placed an ad on Facebook to sell some Edison parts. We got to talking, and it turned out that he used to work in films and actually knew Dan Curtis--and once bought the original Quentin Collins Edison phonograph! He subsequently sold it for $3500 but related that when he bought it, it came with the third horn they used, the black Edison horn. However, he actually knew some details about the original phonograph and related the following to me:

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The show bought the original phonograph for $40 at an antique store. (Good price even for 1967.) As to what happened to the original horn: Turns out, a stage hand fell on it and destroyed it! So it is lost and beyond recovery. They then got some other horn for an episode or two and contacted him because he dealt in Edison stuff and he sold them the black horn that was used in some scenes. They finally used another red horn and dropped the black horn. He eventually bought the machine and got it back with the black horn, then sold it, as noted, because he was offered a price he couldn't refuse.

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He wanted my Quentin horn, admitting it was the best one he had seen. I wouldn't sell :)

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The Four Horns.

Four horns were used in the show, shown above. From right to left:

The horn.

A mysterious, close replacement only used in a couple of episodes. Fate unknown.

A normal black Edison horn as found on a Standard or Home phonograph sold to the show as a replacement for the original horn. Survived the show and was eventually sold with the machine for $3500 by a friend of mine at a convention to a fellow collector.

The final horn--a large red horn. Fate unknown.

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The Bracket: Courtesy of my friend Randy who owned the original machine, I am delighted to say that I have lucked into a copy of the original bracket used on the Quentin machine! The bracket came on a custom Edison Triumph I picked up and sent photos to him of. I noticed it had an odd crane bracket --one I had never seen befiore--on the back of the case that looked like what the Quentin machine might have used. I sent him a photo and asked if by any chance this was what the original machine used if he could remember--and he confimed it was identical to what was on the Quentin machine! Neither of us knows who made it, though our best gueis it was a Babson Bros. item. However, I can now post this update to show the bracket mounted on the original machine. I am in the process of building up an actual Edison Home model B to fully replicate the Quentin phonograph. I'm torn whethere I want to remove this unique bracket from this valuable Triumph or not, LOL. But THIS was the bracket the original machine had. If anyone finds another they would like to sell me...s

.a Babson Bros. item. However, I can now post this update to show the bracket mounted on the original machine. I am in the process of building up an actual Edison Home model B to fully replicate the Quentin phonograph. I'm torn whethere I want to remove this unique bracket from this valuable Triumph or not, LOL. But THIS was the bracket the original machine had. If anyone finds another they would like to sell me...

This is a snapshot of our Dark Shadows Halloween, featuring my earlier re-creation using an Edison Standard Phonograph Model D, and another Hawthorne & Sheble horn. Angelique and Diabalos are seated next to the phonograph.

Following are some additional photos of the replicated phonograph, and a great Quentin video montage from a fan on Youtube! (Notice in the very first photo in the video how dinged up Quentin's horn actually was!)

I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I have an original Edison recorder head. The next step is to see if I can make a recording off the CD of Quentin's Theme, and actually play it on the phonograph!

Here are some photos of other machines and horns in my collection:

. Note: These big horns are magnificent pieces of art, but they're sure a pain to use because of the hassle involved with changing reproducers! The most practical, and least irritating, horn to use on these is the little witch's hat horn you see in the bottom photos.

NEWS

It appears that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp will be remaking Dark Shadows as a movie in the next couple of years. If they ever do a sequel with Quentin's character, I hope they let me put together the phonograph for them!

Email: vggarcia@ix.netcom.com


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