Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Tangible Media: Removable Storage of Image, Sound, Motion and Data
Pins
Gem Roller Organ Cob

Title:

Break the News to Mother

Date:

1898

Material:

Wood, steel pins

Dimensions:

6⅜ x 1¾ in. (16.2 x 4.5 cm)

Company:

Autophone

Location:

Ithaca, NY, United States

A 20-note barrel for the Gem Roller Organ, an affordable and popular reed organette. They were featured in the the Sears & Roebuck catalog. The barrel was called a "cob," due to its size and appearance. The playing time was about 40 seconds. The pins were arranged in a spiral sequence and the cob rotated three times while playing a song. The pins opened valves that allowed air to enter the organ pipes. Turning the crank turned the cylinder and operated an air pump. The key innovation of the Gem was the ability to create sustained notes using a sequence of closely spaced pins, rather than the staple-like "bridges" use in earlier organ barrels. This allowed the barrels to be manufactured in quantity by machine. As a result, the cobs sold for as little as 18 cents.

Break the News to Mother was a patriotic song published at the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898. It was released as a cylinder record by Columbia around the same time.

Wooden cylinder with metal pins for Gem Roller Organ
Label for Gem Roller Organ cob: Break the News to Mother, No. 1102, Patent No. 322300