1968-2008

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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 the rare 78,  Midnight, the Stars and You. You'll remember that song from the end of Jack Nicholson's The Shining, where Jack is revealed to be in in the photograph from 1921. (Hmm--sounds a lot like something from DS!) (

(By the way, these machines 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.

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.

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!

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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