Mystery Object of the week #12 Answer

Congratulations to Rob de Bie, Rolf Christian Holth Olsen and David James who correctly identified this weeks mystery object –  Mae Starr by Universal Talking Toys Company – U.S.A, 1930.

Talking Doll - Mae Starr by Universal Talking Toys Company U.S.A - 1930 Part of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection

Talking Doll – Mae Starr by Universal Talking Toys Company U.S.A – 1930. Part of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection

Mae Starr was made by the Universal Talking Toys Co., and uses the Averill Manufacturing Company’s cylinder phonograph motor. The cylinder mechanism is housed in a well constructed tin-plate housing at the back of the doll. the sound is directed out of the front of the chest. A small lever starts the motor and positions the stylus on the beginning of the cylinder, whilst a crank is used on the thigh to wind the mechanism. All of the dolls that used this type of mechanism used blue, 2 3/16 inch diameter, and 1 ¼ inch long cylinders.

 Talking Doll - Mae Starr by Universal Talking Toys Company U.S.A - 1930 Part of the EMI Group Archiev Trust Collection

Talking Doll – Mae Starr by Universal Talking Toys Company U.S.A – 1930 Part of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection

This doll has celluloid arms, legs and head. Her body is cloth and stuffed, and has the metal cylinder holder in her back and a metal lined hole in her chest where the sound comes out. On her side is a hand crank. Mae’s eyes open and with brunette human hair wig.  This particular doll stands 26 2/4 inches tall and comes with two original cylinders.

Mae Starr talking doll by Universal Talking Toys Company – Courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection.  Film courtesy of  thegirlofmusic1– ‘Mae Starr Phonograph Doll – Nursery Rhyme: One, Two.’

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Nellie Melba and The Star Spangled Banner

The Hound is pleased to welcome our newest contributor Roger Neill

 

 

 By Roger Neill

As we all know, a vital ability in life is to respond creatively to an unforeseen threat quickly and decisively.

The great Australian diva, Nellie Melba, was set to sing Rosina in The Barber of Seville in San Francisco in 1898. Nothing unusual about that. It was one of her regular and best roles.

The problem was that the opera is set in Spain and, at that moment, Spain was threatening to invade and lay claim to Cuba. War appeared imminent and anti-Spanish feeling in the USA was running high. At the performance, although Melba herself was treated courteously by the audience, the barber, Figaro, was roundly booed.

What to do?

It so happens that in Act 2 there is a singing lesson where the composer, Rossini, allows Rosina to perform a song of her own choosing “ad libitum”. In San Francisco, the piano was pushed on stage, and Melba, a fine pianist, accompanied herself singing one of America’s favourite songs of the day, Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home”. And, when the applause had died down a little, she followed up immediately with “The Star Spangled Banner”.

A local reporter noted: “People rose in their seats and cheered themselves hoarse.” The audience wept – the diva with them. Problem solved.

Sadly there are no recordings by her of those songs, nor of The Barber of Seville, so here she is singing (dazzlingly) the Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust in 1905

 

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