Duplex Phonograph Company

“Made For You In Kalamazoo”


Duplex Phonograph Company letterhead, c.1908
courtesy, Robert Coon, Menasha, WI

As nineteenth century Victorian charm gave way to twentieth century modern, the phonograph emerged as a compelling new form of home entertainment. The skeptics, of course, refused to take the “talking machine” seriously at first, viewing it more as a toy than a serious musical instrument. Some dismissed records entirely, including John Philip Sousa who famously made his own disdain for “canned music” known in a 1906 article he called “The Menace of Mechanical Music.” Still, the phonograph continued to gain great popularity, especially after the emergence of Emile Berliner’s flat-disc “gramophone” records around 1900.

“An Entirely New Principle in Phonographs”


An original Duplex phonograph
courtesy, Nauck's Vintage Records 

Before the appearance of electric phonographs in the 1920s, acoustic sound amplification (and recording, for that matter) was accomplished through the use of large metal (or glass, or even wooden) horns. The unique shapes of these horns soon created instantly recognizable icons for their respective manufacturers. In fact, the archetypal “gramophone” still remains a hallmark of The Recording Academy and the namesake for the industry’s top award, the “Grammy.”

In their heyday, however, “talking machines” could be found in a variety of styles and sizes, with horns ranging from sleek and simple to elaborately ornate. One rather novel approach employed two such horns arranged side-by-side in an attempt to offer “twice the sound” (or at least that was the claim). With just such a model, The Duplex Phonograph Company made a brief yet significant impact on the commercial sound recording industry and helped to bring notoriety to the city of Kalamazoo with its famous “Made For You In Kalamazoo” dual-horn phonograph.


A fully restored Duplex phonograph
courtesy, Raphael Cole

Charles E. Hill


Hill’s patent #773,740, 1904 
U.S. Patent Office

The Duplex two-horn phonograph was the brainchild of Charles E. Hill (born May 1862), a Canadian immigrant and self-proclaimed “talking machine expert” from Lincoln, Nebraska — a region of the United States that played a prominent role in the early days of phonograph history. Leon Douglass, co-founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company, was a young Nebraskan when he displayed an early coin-operated phonograph at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, as was Erastus Benson, president of the Nebraska Phonograph Company and an affiliate of Thomas Edison. While it’s unclear if Hill was ever affiliated with either of these men, he was certainly in the right place.

During the 1890s, the “talking machine” industry was controlled by a tightly-knit group of aggressive competitors, including the National Gramophone Company (Berliner and later, Victor), the Columbia Phonograph Company, and the National Phonograph Company (Edison). From about 1896, Charles Hill worked for phonograph manufacturers and distributors in and around Kansas City, Missouri, and reportedly oversaw the opening of several highly successful phonograph stores. It was during this time that Hill developed his own design for a seemingly unique dual-horn system, which attempted to gather and amplify the sound vibrations from both sides of a transducer’s diaphragm, preserving, as Hill described, “sound-waves made at one side of the reproducer-diaphragm and which are ordinarily dissipated, and thereby lost to the audience.”(*)

* (As stated in C.E. Hill’s patent #773,740, U.S. Patent Office, 1904, lines 22-26). This statement makes for great marketing but is of course fundamentally flawed. Sound waves gathered in this manner are by nature out of phase and actually tend to cancel each other out. An example is discussed in more detail in a later section.

Hoping to create a louder, perhaps better sounding phonograph and gain a foothold in this lucrative but tightly held industry, Hill filed an application for a patent (#773,740) on 20 March 1903 for his “phonograph reproducer attachment,” which was granted November 1, 1904. Soon, Hill’s “attachment” concept evolved into a full-scale prototype for a dual-horn phonograph of his own design.


A rare photograph of “The Duplexophone” (Duplex phonograph prototype), c.1905
The Music Trade Review, May 1905

“The Duplexophone Company”


Duplexophone Company appeal for funding
Omaha Daily Bee, 10 Sep 1905

On or around 15 April 1905, Hill and his associates allegedly* formed “The Duplexophone Manufacturing Company” in Lancaster County, Nebraska, claiming initial capital of $300,000. Hill set up his enterprise in a former woodworking mill at 2418-2432 ‘N’ Street in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he planned to manufacture his own recently patented record store display shelving and phonographs. “Up-town” wholesale and retail offices were also planned, with possible addresses at 118 South 14th Street, 129 South 11th Street, and 1241 ‘O’ Street in Lincoln. Company officers included Charles E. Hill, president and general manager; J.W. Clark, vice-president; M. Leusink, factory superintendent; and J.Y.M. Swigart, secretary and treasurer.

* Nebraska Supreme Court records (13 April 1909) indicate that Hill only “pretended to organize what was known as the ‘Duplexophone Company’” and that articles of incorporation were never actually filed with the Lancaster county clerk. On the other hand, a Nebraska charter for The Duplexophone Manufacturing Co. did seemingly exist, as it was reportedly canceled in 1909 without specific reason (Smythe).

Hill had big plans for his Duplexophone phonograph. Favorable reviews in New York trade papers like Talking Machine World and The Music Trade Review stirred up a great deal of interest across the United States and abroad. An article published in The Trade Review (Lincoln, NE) on 13 May 1905 stated that The Duplexophone Company had purchased “a good factory building” and was expecting to turn out about 50,000 machines by year’s end. The factory in Lincoln was reportedly equipped with $14,000 worth of new equipment and enough capacity to turn out 300 machines per day. A brand new five-story factory building was to be erected adjacent to the existing building, and “if necessary,” Hill stated, “we have room to equip for a capacity of 500 machines a day.”


Newspaper ad (crop) for The Duplexophone Company, 1905
Omaha Daily Bee, 10 Sep 1905

The initial run of Duplexophone phonographs was slated for delivery by the first of June, 1905, but a mid-September newspaper advertisement in neighboring Omaha provides a slightly different view of the story. While Hill was certainly big on ideas, his company was evidently short on working capital. The September ad made a direct plea to the “hundreds of prudent, cautious, hard-headed and sensible men in this country” who would be willing to invest in The Duplexophone Company to help pay for “installing two new metal-working machines” so production work could begin. The ad goes on to state that “[e]very dollar” of the money invested would “go into active use in the manufacture and selling of Duplexophone Talking Machines and Records at once, and at large profits” (Omaha Daily Bee).

Clearly, the Duplexophone Company failed to meet its June production deadline. There is evidence, however, that at least some of the working prototypes made it onto the street before year’s end. According to a Nebraska union newspaper called The Wageworker, a Duplexophone “double-headed phonograph,” said to be “manufactured right here in Lincoln, was set going, and it ground out a goodly program of entertaining music and songs” during an October 1905 meeting in Lincoln of the Carpenters and Joiners Local No. 1055.

But apparently Hill was not completely satisfied with the Duplexophone and/or the arrangements in Lincoln. In fact, the manufacturing operation in Nebraska evidently never got off the ground. Instead of securing outside investors and purchasing the necessary metal-working machines in order to begin production in Lincoln, Hill visited Kalamazoo, Michigan, several times in late 1905 and developed a relationship with the Kalamazoo Novelty Company (KNC), formerly known as Michigan Novelty Works.


One of the Kalamazoo Novelty Company trade ads that probably caught Charles Hill’s attention
Modern Machinery, June 1906

Kalamazoo Novelty Company

Kalamazoo Novelty Company was a small but growing specialty manufacturer located at 210-214 North Rose Street (east side of Rose, between Eleanor and Water streets) in Kalamazoo. Established in 1902 as Michigan Novelty Works, the company specialized in patent and model development, custom manufactured mechanisms for slot machines and toys, and specialty equipment for other manufacturing firms, such as C.W. Post, the famous breakfast cereal maker.

In October 1905, Michigan Novelty Works was sold and reestablished as the Kalamazoo Novelty Company with a new motto, “Let us act as your factory.” According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo Novelty Company set out to attract the attention of “the poor struggling inventor with a really worthy article... who possessed an ability to sell and not to manufacture”—precisely the sort of inventor and entrepreneur that was Charles E. Hill.


Michigan Novelty Works, ca 1904
Local History Room Photograph File P-729

“Canning Music in Kalamazoo”

With help from Kalamazoo’s Commercial Club (forerunner of today’s Chamber of Commerce), Hill gained enthusiastic local support for his new invention and (especially) for his ambitious marketing plan, which featured the catchphrase, “Made For You In Kalamazoo.” A prototype of the Duplex phonograph was produced by KNC and exhibited in Kalamazoo during the month of November, 1905. As a result, the two companies had a manufacturing deal in ink by year’s end. Kalamazoo Novelty Company would manufacture the mechanical components for the phonograph, while “Silk Finish” horns would be shipped in from the Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, PA, and furniture-grade cabinets would “probably” (Gazette) be made in Grand Rapids, Michigan, famously known as the “Furniture City.” The Duplex company would then assemble the machines in Kalamazoo and ship the finished products directly to customers by mail in response to orders received through “an aggressive advertising campaign” (Telegraph).

On December 1st, 1905, Allen T. Dusenbury, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering and already Kalamazoo Novelty Company’s treasurer and manager, became the new Duplex Phonograph Company vice president. When Charles Hill returned to Kalamazoo in late December, he set up shop at 109-111 North Edwards Street, and soon thereafter personally delivered the initial order for five hundred Duplex phonographs to Kalamazoo Novelty Company. And this order, according to reports, was “simply a forerunner of larger ones to follow” (Gazette). The Duplex/KNC operation then employed about sixty workers with initial output of roughly twenty five finished machines per day. After months of planning, the first run of Duplex machines rolled off the line near the end of January.


1905 newspaper ads clearly show how a “Duplexophone” prototype sketch (left) was adapted for use by its successor.
Omaha Daily Bee, 10 Sep 1905 (left) | The Commoner, 8 December 1905 (right)

The Duplex Phonograph


An early Duplex ad, 1905
The Commoner, 8 December 1905

The Duplex phonograph was a big and uniquely beautiful instrument; appearance alone made it stand out among its competitors. With imposing twin silk wrapped brass horns, stately oak cabinet and striking graphics, the Duplex phonograph vied for a top seat within the booming phonograph industry. The complete package was described in the following 1905 advertisement:

“Case or cabinet machine made throughout of solid quartered oak and handsomely decorated with inlaid French Marquetry, set-in columns at corners, hand rubbed and beautifully polished. The largest talking machine case made. It is 18 inches long, 14 inches wide, 10 inches high. The motor has large double springs and runs several records with one winding. It is the strongest and best motor manufactured, and will wear a life time. Reproducer, 4 inches in diameter, the largest ever made. Horn crane, made of brass and nickel plated. All trimmings made of brass and finely nickel plated. Two silk-covered brass horns, 30 inches long with 18 inch bells. These horns alone sell at retail stores for $14. Three hundred best quality needles, and six selected records: making a complete outfit ready to play. This outfit would sell in stores at retail for $125.” —The Commoner, 8 December 1905, p. 16

The Duplex Phonograph in Action

edisonclassm, YouTube

Guido Severijns, YouTube



Col. Frank DeWitt Eager
Wealth Makers of the World. 1894
(Library of Congress)

Duplex Phonograph Company, Incorporated

Exactly when Charles Hill left the firm remains unclear, but on 29 March 1906, articles of incorporation were filed in Lincoln, Nebraska, allowing the Duplex Phonograph Company to manufacture and sell “Duplex Phonographs and records” for a period of 50(!) years. Neither Hill nor any of the other officers from the former Duplexophone company were named. Instead, Allen T. Dusenbury of Kalamazoo remained vice president, while a triad of Nebraska business magnates rounded out the new board of directors. Alvan H. Armstrong, a clothing merchant from Lincoln, was named company president; former Nebraska politician, retired First Nebraska Infantryman, owner and managing editor of the Nebraska Independent and recent Armstrong Clothing Company mail order department manager Colonel Frank DeWitt Eager assumed the dual role of company secretary and general manager; while Aaron H. Bickerstaff, also from Lincoln, was appointed company treasurer. (Armstrong was president of the Armstrong Clothing Company in Lincoln, where F.D. Eager was a department manager. Armstrong and Bickerstaff were both principal officers in the Capitol Beach & Milford Railroad Co., a small electric streetcar line near Lincoln.) Capital stock of $100,000 was established and split into shares of $100 each to be divided equally among the four officers. Annual meetings were to take place at the company offices in Lincoln, as there was no specific mention of an operation in Kalamazoo at that time.

The Duplex Phonograph Company Factory


Duplex Phonograph Company factory, detail from company letterhead, c.1908
courtesy, Robert Coon, Menasha, WI

Kalamazoo map 1910

Kalamazoo Atlas, 1910 
Local History Room



Duplex factory, July 2005
Photo: Keith Howard

Demand for the new Duplex phonograph grew and soon the Kalamazoo Novelty Company was forced to suspend all of its contract work other than Duplex in an effort to supply the necessary components for new phonograph machines. The call went out for “office girls and stenographers,” and “girls who can operate typewriters,” but even with its operation fully devoted to Duplex, KNC struggled to keep up as orders for the novel dual-horn phonographs piled up at the North Rose Street facility. Clearly, the firm needed to expand if it was expected to survive.

In April 1906, Frank Eager sold his interest in The Nebraska Independent to a fellow politician and was soon in Kalamazoo fulfilling his new role as secretary and general manager of the Duplex Phonograph Company. Eager brought along Miss Clara King from the Lincoln office to “do stenographic work” for a few weeks while things got settled in Kalamazoo, and on May 17, 1906, Eager announced that 2.5 acres of land had been purchased at the northeast corner of Walbridge and Paterson streets in Kalamazoo where a new manufacturing facility would be built for Duplex.

The new Duplex Phonograph Company factory building, located near the Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw (CK&S) Railway line on East Paterson Street, was to be a 60 x 120 foot two-story brick structure with an additional 30 x 40 foot one-story building to the north, plus a second 40 x 100 foot two-story corrugated iron structure next to it for storage. Andrew D. Loughead of Kalamazoo was awarded the contract for constructing the new $12,000-$16,000 facility, and the Quinn Plumbing Supply Company of Kalamazoo was contracted to install the heating plant.

With KNC’s capacity now completely taken up with phonograph work, the Duplex Phonograph Company announced plans on July 1st to purchase the entire stock and equipment of the Kalamazoo Novelty Company, just as the foundations were being laid for the new Duplex factory building. Future contract work and goodwill of KNC would be transferred to the National Tool Company of Three Rivers. By August, the second story of the new Duplex factory was complete and ready for roof work to begin. Plans were afoot to have the new facility ready to occupy in September.


Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1908
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

The time like their slogan was—“Made For You In Kalamazoo.” The crowed commenced to come as early as 7:30 o’clock and by the time the orchestra struck up the music at 9 o’clock there were fully 1,200 people on the floor.

Frank Eager was there with his big smile and handshake. Mr. Hill was there and Mr. Dusenbury...

The big ball and reception was held on the second floor of the factory and all around the room chairs were placed for the comfort of those in attendance. One of the big two-horn phonographs, the product of the Duplex company, furnished music until the dancing commenced.

Kalamazoo Gazette, 8 September 1906

Grand Opening Ball and Reception

By the time the new plant was ready to occupy, the firm had invested some $25,000 (more than $650,000 today) in its expansion project, and it was time to celebrate. On Friday evening, September 7th, Duplex company officials hosted a grand ball in the still vacant upper level of its new factory building. The room was specially decorated for the occasion with purple streamers, and a large American flag hung in the center of the room. Seated beneath the flag, George Newell’s Full Orchestra provided popular ragtime pieces and sweet dance music. “A choice programme of selections rendered by a battery of Duplex phonographs” greeted guests as they arrived. In all, some 1,200 business associates, local dignitaries and socialites participated in the gala event, while enjoying refreshments and dancing across the hard maple floor inside the spacious the new building. “Punch was served in unlimited quantities, and everybody had a most enjoyable time.” (Music Trade Review)

After the grand opening festivities were over and the dancers had left the building, workers immediately began moving equipment from the North Rose Street facility into the new Duplex factory building on Paterson Street. An additional $15,000 worth of new machinery was purchased and installed as it arrived.

Work Begins

On Monday, 17 September 1906, production work began in the new Paterson Street factory with 150 employees and daily output of 150 machines—nearly six times that of the previous facility. As work progressed, a new 40 x 100 foot storage building, again built by A.D. Loughead, was added on the north side of the factory at a cost of $3,000 to house raw materials. A special CK&S railroad side track was added to provide Duplex with direct rail access, and the city approved an extension of its water mains along Paterson Street to reach the new plant for added fire protection.

With their operation firmly established in Kalamazoo, additional articles of incorporation were filed with the Michigan Secretary of State in Lansing on November 1, 1906. The list of company officers remained unchanged, as did capital stock of $100,000. As the year 1906 came to an end, the future looked bright indeed for the Duplex Phonograph Company.


Advertising “The Greatest of All Musical Inventions”

The first advertisements for the Duplex phonograph appeared in William Jennings Bryan’s Lincoln, Nebraska newspaper, The Commoner, during late 1905, with the advertised price of $29.85. “We manufacture The Duplex Phonograph under our own exclusive patents at our factory in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” the ads stated. “We make the goods and sell direct to the user. We have no jobbers or dealers. We can sell to the user just as cheap as we could to jobbers.” Duplex promoted its product as being equal in value to the competitors’ $100-$125 machines “at factory prices” under $30.

Duplex Phonograph Factory Offices,
Kalamazoo, Mich.,

June 30, 1906

Mr. Chas. W. Bryan, Publisher
The Commoner,
Lincoln, Neb.

Dear Mr. Bryan;
It may interest you to know that “The Commoner” heads our list as an advertising medium. It has been a close race for first place between “Collier’s Weekly” and “The Commoner.” The cost for each sale made had been less in “The Commoner” than in any of the many publications that we have used. Strange as it may seem, the inquiries from “The Commoner” cost a little more than from “Collier’s Weekly,” but the percentage of sales was considerably greater.

For every dollar that we expend for advertising in “The Commoner” we have received in return $9.03. In other words, it had cost approximately 11% for direct sales. Of course in addition to this we will have nearly as much more from the effect of our follow-up and general publicity. The showing “The Commoner” had made is certainly one of which you have a right to be proud.

Sincerely yours,                                  
F. D. Eager, Sec’y and Manager.

“Made in Kalamazoo, Sold Around the World”

In 1906, Duplex began an aggressive $40,000 national print advertising campaign. By mid-January, the distinctive dual-horn phonograph was “being advertised extensively in the leading magazines as a Kalamazoo product” (Gazette). Ads ran throughout the year in several national publications, including Everybody’s, The Theater, The National Magazine, and others. By year’s end, the distinctive ads touting the unique features of the Duplex phonograph—not to mention its low price—were beginning to appear in many additional publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Literary Digest, Collier’s, Kansas City Star, The New York Tribune, The Washington Times, Farm and Home, Orange Judd Farmer, Popular Mechanics, Argosy, The Delineator, Munsey’s, and a host of others.


Duplex Phonograph Company magazine advertisement, 1906
Collier’s Magazine, 15 September 1906 (author’s collection)

Local Marketing Efforts


Kalamazoo Gazette, 8 December 1906



Kalamazoo Gazette, 11 December 1906

Interestingly, advertisements for the new Duplex phonograph did not appear in the local Kalamazoo newspapers until late in the 1906 holiday season, a full year after the company was established. Print ads were first seen in the Kalamazoo Telegraph-Press on Friday, 7 December 1906, and the following day in the Kalamazoo Gazette, with similar ads running in both papers nearly every day throughout the early months of 1907.

A public salesroom for the new Duplex phonograph was set up in December 1906 at the Ihling-Cone Furniture Co., 223-225 East Main in Kalamazoo, where local customers could listen and compare the Duplex against other brands. This salesroom appears to be one of the few locations—if not the only one—where a Duplex phonograph could be purchased in a traditional retail (non-mail order) setting. While display in a furniture store might seem a bit unusual today, “talking machines” were then viewed as novelty items and often associated with fine home furnishings. It is interesting to note, however, that Grinnell Brothers, a prominent local piano, musical instrument, and Victor/Victrola retailer, was located right next door to Ihling-Cone. The Victor Company would later play a key role in the demise of Duplex.

Model Roller Coaster

One rather interesting marketing ploy came during the 1908 Christmas season, when Duplex shop foreman Clell Miller fashioned a miniature working model of a figure-eight roller coaster to help draw attention to the Duplex company and its in-store product display. Constructed of metal and powered by electricity (a unique feature in 1908), Miller’s model was an exact replica of the popular attraction at Oakwood Park, which had just opened the previous year. The model coaster, detailed right down to the ticket seller, the “barker,” and landing platform, took Miller three months to complete and was displayed at Sam Folz’ “Big Corner Store” throughout the holiday shopping season.

Kalamazoo Records: “All the Music”


Scarce “Kalamazoo Record” (78rpm) labels, c.1907
courtesy, Nauck’s Vintage Records 

In addition to the phonograph machines themselves, the Duplex Phonograph Company issued a significant number of 78 rpm recordings under the “Kalamazoo” label, perhaps releasing upwards of 2,000 titles. It remains unclear whether Kalamazoo records were ever sold commercially, or if they were intended strictly as promotional items to be given away with the purchase of its machines—perhaps both. Either way, it is certain that few—if any—of these were unique recordings. In a statement to the press on 6 February 1907, Frank Eager indicated that Duplex did not manufacture its own recordings, but instead held contracts with Columbia, the International Record Company (IRC), the American Record Company (ARC)*, and surprisingly even Victor. Current research supports this claim, as many Kalamazoo records have been identified as originating from IRC and ARC masters. Newspaper ads in early 1907 offered “free, six 7-inch records or three 10-inch records” with every Duplex.

*Interestingly, Ellsworth A. Hawthorne and Horace Sheble, both former designers for Edison Records, were founders of The American Record Company, along with partner John O. Prescott (whose brother, incidentally, was connected with the International Record Company). Hawthorne and Sheble gained great fame as manufacturers of phonograph horns, one model of which was used by Duplex.

“With every Duplex we give six 7-inch or three 10-inch records free.”

Kalamazoo records were produced in variations of at least seven different series:

Recording Artists

According to the advertisements, available artists included such conductors and musicians as Ignacy Paderewski, Eugen d’Albert, Raoul Pugno, and Jan Kubelik; vocalists like Adelina Patti, Nellie Melba, Emma Calve, Enrico Caruso, and Francesco Tamagno; plus novelty recordings like Joe Jefferson’s characterization of “Rip Van Winkle.” Later ads offer “records in any language.”


1907 ad displaying Cedar Street address
and the “Home Concert Collection”
Scott County Kicker (Benton, MO),
5 October 1907, p. 1

“Home Concert Collection”

By the end of 1907, Duplex had upped its “free records” ante substantially with the introduction of the “Home Concert Collection,” a deluxe package that included a Duplex phonograph, plus a greatly expanded selection of records. Advertisements from October 1907 offered “The Square Deal,” which came complete with “16 of the best ten-inch records that money can buy, all specially selected to give a variety of music so that a dozen people of the most varied tastes can be given two hours’ entertainment.” The package featured “the best band and orchestra pieces, instrumental and vocal solos, vocal duets and quartettes, talking pieces, comic songs, sacred pieces, etc.” “We make the selections because we know how to choose the best pieces,” the ads boldly claimed, “That’s part of our business.” To complete the package, the “Home Concert Collection” incorporated an assortment of eight hundred(!) needles, “a bottle of 3-in-1 oil, a first-class oil can, a can of Monarch metal polish, and a neat needle box.”


Munsey’s Magazine, September 1906

The Beginning of the End

During the decades that surrounded the turn of the 20th century, the infant sound recording industry was a hotbed of innovation, but it was also a tangled mess of underhanded “handshake” agreements, patent ruses, and contradictory court rulings. The sudden popularity of the phonograph and its resulting commercial success spawned a great number of technical innovations, and a seemingly endless stream of new competitors. Major companies like the Victor Talking Machine Company, Edison, Columbia, and the United States Gramophone Company held numerous patents (Edison alone held more than 1,000) which they aggressively fought to protect through the use of high powered (and high priced) patent attorneys, lengthy court battles, and costly litigation. Thanks to the high visibility afforded by its aggressive national advertising campaign, the Duplex Phonograph Company soon landed itself squarely in the sights of the industry’s “big guns.”

Victor Cites Patent Infringement

Operations in the new factory building had barely gotten underway when the first legal suit was brought against Duplex by the Victor Talking Machine Company and the United States Gramophone Company. On 6 February 1907, a Kalamazoo Gazette article stated that preliminary injunction papers had been filed in circuit court by Victor’s team of attorneys, claiming that the Duplex machine infringed on the Victor-owned Berliner patent (#534,543). (Victor acquired the licensing rights to Emile Berliner’s 1887 patent for a “sound reproducing apparatus” in 1900.) Duplex company officials, along with their attorneys Samuel Edmonds and Dallas Boudeman, countered by stating that Duplex patents (Hill, #773,740) were properly registered, and no infringement had occurred. “I am a little surprised at the suit being brought,” said F.D. Eager in a statement to the Kalamazoo Evening Telegraph, “and have taken the matter up with Dallas Boudeman of Kalamazoo and our counsel in New York and both say that nothing of a serious nature can come out of the dispute and that there is little danger of an injunction, either temporary or permanent being issued.”

Preliminary Injunction

An injunction was indeed issued, however, and on March 21st, 1907, the Kalamazoo plant was forced to cease manufacturing operations, although assembly, shipping, and office operations were allowed to continue as normal. A skeleton crew of twenty five workers (13 male, 12 female) was retained to keep assembly and shipments rolling at the rate of about 30 machines per day. Duplex company manager Frank Eager stated that production delays were exacerbated by “the non-arrival of a carload of horns which [were] manufactured in Philadelphia,” and that the firm had “at least $30,000 worth” (Gazette) of inventory on hand in Kalamazoo to work with, “parts of over 1,000 machines... sufficient to supply the normal trade for 30 to 40 days” (Telegraph).

“Duplex Wins; No Injunction”

In May, this initial injunction was denied by a federal court judge, and manufacturing operations were allowed to resume, although the court battle between Victor and Duplex was far from over. “Duplex Wins” read the headlines as company officials tried to downplay the situation by stating that Victor had simply been trying to block the company’s tremendous growth (which was true) and that the Duplex Phonograph Company was now free to expand. As Victor and Duplex lawyers continued to argue over possible patent infringement, Duplex advertised locally for more help—stenographers, typewriter operators, folders, card filers, machinists, buffers and polishers—in an effort to move forward with production of its dual-horn phonograph.

“‘The Duplex Phonograph’ which I ordered from the Duplex Phonograph Company, 410 Patterson(sic) Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, through seeing their advertisement in ‘Camera Craft,’ has been most thoroughly tested during the past two weeks, and has fully justified the high claims made by the manufacturers. It has a tone that is powerful, exact, and not metallic or mechanical; in fact it surpasses the higher priced machines by the possession of what might be termed ‘a human element’ in the rendition of vocal selections. E. E. Roberts, Almeda, Cal.” —Camera Craft, July 1908



Duplex print ad, “C.Q. De France, Mgr.”
The FRA, March 1909

Charles Q. De France

During the early months of 1907, Duplex hired a new advertising manager from Nebraska named Charles Q. De France. Once an editor for the Lincoln (NE) Independent, De France was an active political figure in Nebraska and served as circulation manager for Watson’s Magazine, a monthly literary magazine and political sounding board published in New York. By the end of 1906, De France had become the associate editor and business manager of the magazine, and undoubtedly became aware of the Duplex Phonograph Company through the many advertisements that appeared in its pages. When Watson’s Magazine was sold in late 1906, De France is said to have “carried off a copy” of its mailing list “to Kalamazoo, Mich., where,” much to the editor Thomas Watson’s chagrin, “he used it in circulation for the Duplex Phonograph people.” (Thomas Watson, 1908)

“Two Diaphragms; Two Horns” 

Faced with impending legal challenges, Duplex altered the design of its phonograph slightly in an attempt to circumvent the patent infringement allegations. The reproducer was modified to include two diaphragms instead of one, thus setting it apart from its competitors, or so the claim was made. Advertisements proudly called attention to “all the latest improvements,” including “the two vibrating diaphragms of the DUPLEX,” claiming that “they double the volume of sound, and the two horns give it amplified expression.” Despite the company’s attempts to modify its product, the court allowed the lawsuits against Duplex to proceed.

Management Changes

During 1907 and 1908, sales evidently slumped with the adverse publicity as the legal battles continued. Production delays and mounting debt were taking their toll on the young firm and not surprisingly, there was a significant change in management around this time. Armstrong and Bickerstaff both left the firm; Frank Eager became president, and Charles S. Bush assumed the role of secretary and treasurer. As advertising manager, C.Q. De France continued to solicit new business with distinctive Duplex ads in a variety of national magazines, including bold new offers like “easy payments” and “seven days’ free trial.” Despite the downturn, 1908 financial statements still reveal a firm of significant size and worth, with assets of $111,000 (roughly $2.69 million today) and liabilities in excess of $51,000 (nearly $1.23 million today).

“Judge Knappen’s courtroom resembled a 5-cent phonograph parlor yesterday when the arguments in the case of the Victor Talking Machine company against the Duplex Phonograph company were begun. The case is brought for the recovery of damages of an alleged infringement of patent covering the manufacture of talking machines. The arguments will consume several days. Several talking machines of both makes are on exhibit in the courtroom as evidence in the case and will be demonstrated by experts form the factories of the rival companies.” 

Grand Rapids Press, 9 June 1908

In May 1908, an additional $50,000 mortgage was taken out to cover a past due bond, as the announcement was made that another firm was already making plans to take over the Duplex building. An inspection of the Duplex factory in Kalamazoo on 14 October 1908 as reported by the Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics revealed that just nine workers were employed by the firm at that time; seven male and two female, a far cry from the one hundred fifty-member workforce just two years earlier. Clearly the company’s days were numbered.

Victor Sues Again

Although Duplex continued limited production for the next few months, the lawsuits were piling up. A second suit was filed by the Victor Talking Machine Company in January 1908 citing additional patent violations (Charles G. Conn, #624,301), which forced Duplex to suspend its advertising campaign—the very lifeblood of its mail order business model. The Phillips Publishing Company also sued and won a settlement against Duplex in April over an unpaid advertising contract.

Management Changes Again

Management at Duplex changed a final time in early 1909, when Eager, Bush and Dusenbury all exited the firm. Charles Q. De France became company president and manager, Hilda Hoover Bangs took over as secretary, and former shop foreman, Clell D. Miller, assumed the role of vice president and factory superintendent. An inspection on 6 August 1909 by the Michigan Department of Labor confirms that just three workers were employed by Duplex at that time.


Court Deals A Fatal Blow


Kalamazoo Gazette,
27 February 1910

Finally, on 27 May 1909, the Grand Rapids Evening Press reported that U.S. Circuit Court Judge Frank E. Knappen had granted a second injunction against Duplex on behalf of the Victor Talking Machine Company with its partner, the United States Gramophone Company of Philadelphia, which immediately brought production of the dual-horn phonograph to a grinding halt. Duplex attorney Dallas Boudeman stated that an appeal was being considering, but the attempt failed and Duplex went out of the manufacturing business shortly thereafter.

Although not directly related to the Duplex case, Victor brought a similar suit at roughly the same time against Hawthorne & Sheble, the company that manufactured the distinctive silk-wrapped horns for Duplex, which resulted in the demise of that company, as well.

Trustee Edwin J. Phelps brought a foreclosure suit against Duplex in November. According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, a new manufacturing firm (Bevier Gas Engine Company) had by then already “chosen as a factory site the plant of the defunct Duplex Phonograph Company, at the junction of Patterson(sic) Street and the Lake Shore Railroad.”

Foreclosure Sale

A foreclosure sale announcement followed and the remaining Duplex company property went up for auction on 3 March 1910. “Choice location; new building; going cheap” cited an ad in the Detroit Free Press. Real estate was valued at $1,400; total debt (bonds and accumulated interest) owed by the firm exceeded $47,000 (approx. $1,186,000 today). Frank D. Eager (former Duplex president and general manager), Charles S. Bush (former Duplex secretary, treasurer, and a principal Duplex stockholder) and Charles A. Dewing (a prominent Kalamazoo businessman) jointly entered the winning bid of $12,500. A list of remaining miscellaneous items was advertised later in the month.


The Final Appeal


Frank Knappen, c.1907

In a desperate final attempt, Duplex lawyers appealed Judge Knappen’s decision in the Conn patent (#624,301) suit, citing that a “double sound box” with “two separate diaphragms” and “the employment of a double bell (horn), as distinguished from a single bell” differentiated the Duplex from previous inventions and thus did not infringe. In a circuit court of appeals on 15 October 1910, judges Severens, Warrington and Cochran upheld Judge Knappen’s earlier ruling. Duplex was indeed finished.

With the judges’ final ruling, the end became official on 21 October 1910. “The Duplex Phonograph company, for several years a dangerous rival of all similar concerns, has formally passed out of existence as the result of an order issued by Judge F.E. Knappen upon request of the receiver, Charles Q. De France, and Trustee E.J. Phelps” (Grand Rapids Press).

The Duplex company was once one of the largest and most prosperous talking machine concerns in the United States, but in a legal fight with the Victor company which claimed an infringement of patents its vitality was sapped until finally it was forced out of business altogether. 

Kalamazoo Gazette, 4 March 1910


Duplex letterhead, ca. 1911
Author’s collection

Phonograph Repair

Charles Q. De France, final owner of Duplex as a manufacturing firm, continued to operate a phonograph repair shop called Duplex Phonograph Company out of a third floor office above Frank Doyen’s saloon at 112 South Burdick Street in Kalamazoo until about 1912, perhaps as a venue for liquidating the remaining Duplex inventory. Company letterhead touts “The New Model 1911” as being “manufactured and sold by C.Q. De France, successor to Duplex Phonograph Co., Kalamazoo, Mich.” (no street address given) with “talking machine records, supplies and repairs a specialty.” The updated model features “a progressive mechanical feed which preserves the Records from destruction by centrifugal force.”

Kalamazoo city directories list De France as advertising manager for Duplex through 1908, then company president and general manager thereafter. Business listings for the Duplex Phonograph Company cease after 1912. De France remained in Kalamazoo as a writer until 1914, when he rejoined Col. Frank Eager in Lincoln, Nebraska, to help with a political campaign.

The Factory Meets its Fate 

While the Duplex Phonograph Company itself was a relatively short lived concern, the building that originally housed the firm lived on for more than a century. After subsequent changes in ownership, the former phonograph factory was used for decades by Allied Chemical and later the General Chemical Corporation to manufacture chemicals used in the paper making industry. The building sat vacant for several years before the property was finally acquired by the Kalamazoo County Treasurer through tax foreclosure in 2010 and ultimately transferred Kalamazoo’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority as part of its Brownfield Redevelopment Initiative, citing “serious environmental issues” (Gazette). In 2017 the property was sold to Spur Development LLC for cleanup and restoration. The old factory building was razed soon thereafter.


Northeast corner of Paterson and Walbridge streets, August 2018
photo: Keith Howard

“Double Volume of Sound” (or not)

Legalities aside, it should be noted that one of the primary selling points of the Duplex phonograph, its “Double Volume of Sound,” was somewhat of a misnomer. A physics textbook published in 1910 by a University of Michigan professor who provided “expert testimony” in the Duplex case actually uses the Duplex phonograph itself as an example to demonstrate the principal of sound interference and the fundamentally flawed notion that sound waves gathered from both sides of a vibrating diaphragm will result in increased volume. Indeed, such a concept might seem to make sense at first glance but does not necessarily hold true. In fact, the resulting sound waves from such a setup are by nature out-of-phase and actually tend to reduce the overall volume by canceling each other out. Sensationalism at its best, perhaps, but essentially false advertising.


“Interference between waves from the same source of sound may be demonstrated by means of the so-called ‘duplex phonograph.” In this instrument the diaphragm used to reproduce the vibrations of sound recorded on the record plate has a ‘horn’ connected with each side (Fig. 139). When this diaphragm vibrates, it produces simultaneously a condensation on one side and a rarefaction on the other. Hence the sound waves reaching the medial line ef between the two horns a and b are always in opposite phase. As a fact of observation, when the ear of the listener is on the medial line near the horns, the intensity is noticeably less than at other points. The demonstration is made more complete by inserting rubber tubes in the small ends of the horns by means of tight-fitting corks, and bringing the two tubes of equal length together to a T-tube fitting the ear. The other ear should be closed. The two wave systems do not completely annul each other, but if the listener cuts off one system by pinching either tube, the intensity of the sound is increased to a surprising degree.”

College Physics, Henry Smith Carhart*, ©1910, p. 208

* On 11 June 1908, Professor H. S. Carhart was called upon to give “expert testimony” in the courtroom “on the points involved” in the Duplex case.

Epilogue: Was the Duplex Company in the Wrong?



A restored Duplex phonograph
courtesy, Grant Kornberg, Chapel Hill, NC

Patent infringement is no small matter, but was the Duplex Phonograph Company actually in the wrong? Few would argue that at very least, the company was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After the Victor Talking Machine Company was established in 1901, a grueling series of legal battles ensued in an effort to defend the more than two hundred patents held by Victor in association with the manufacture of flat disc records and players. Victor’s significant financial resources ensured its powerful team of patent lawyers would successfully put numerous upstart phonograph manufacturers out of business—including Duplex—in an all-out attempt to monopolize the market. By the time the Duplex case was finalized in 1910, the recording industry was controlled by a trio of giants; the American Graphophone Company (Columbia), Edison and, of course, Victor.

But as the phonograph industry continued to change and grow, seemingly contradictory rulings cast considerable doubt over many of the precedent patent cases that had once favored Victor. Emile Berliner’s basic patent that was used against Duplex (#534,543) expired in February 1912, which set the stage for new competition. After refusing to pay licensing fees to Victor in 1919, the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana—parent company of Gennett Records—joined forces with other phonograph manufacturers (Aeolian-Vocalion, General Phonograph (OKeh), Canadian Compo Company, et al.) and took on the seemingly inexorable giant in a monumental court battle. After months of litigation, the Starr Piano Company successfully defeated Victor in February 1921 with Judge Billings Learned Hand’s historic ruling, which rendered several of Victor’s patents invalid. This landmark decision opened the flood gates and paved the way for the phonograph boom of the 1920s. Had a ruling such as this been handed down a decade or so earlier, indeed the future might have been different for the Kalamazoo firm.

Still, a century later, Duplex phonographs are highly prized for their unique appearance and extreme scarcity. While newspaper accounts at the time often touted production numbers in the tens of thousands, if the supposed serial numbering protocol were to hold true, there may have been only a few thousand Duplex machines made, the majority of which were probably scrapped decades ago for the various war efforts. As a result, those few that still do exist often change hands for dollar amounts well into the thousands. “Kalamazoo” records, as well, are quite rare and remain highly prized among collectors.

Parts Department

Patent Specifications:

Full details for Charles E. Hill’s “Phonograph Reproducer Attachment,” including specifications and illustrations.

Setup Instructions:

Reproduction of a Duplex Phonograph setup instruction booklet, with illustrations and maintenance tips.

Parts Catalog & Motor Information:

An original leaflet describing in fascinating detail the differences between the eight different versions (A-H) of the Duplex Phonograph motor and related mechanisms. Includes a full 69-item list of replacement parts with prices. Distributed by C.Q. DeFrance, “Successor to Duplex Phonograph Co.” c.1912


Serial number stamped along the top leading edge of the case
courtesy, Mark Lawson Antiques, Inc., Saratoga Springs, NY

Serial Numbers

Evidence suggests that each duplex phonograph carried a unique serial number, mechanically stamped on the front edge of the case under the cover. It is not yet known if these numbers were stamped sequentially, but it would be safe to assume they were. A brochure distributed by C.Q. DeFrance supports this notion by instructing users to “always give the number of your Duplex (edge of cabinet under lid)” when submitting its motor for repair. (Motors were given letter designations A-H as subsequent improvements were made.) A list of the known serial numbers (as confirmed by their owners) follows. (If you own a Duplex phonograph that displays a serial number (especially those numbers that lie outside of the range listed below), please contact the author and we’ll add it to our list.)

Documented Serial Numbers (verified by, date)

No. 1276 Don Durand (March 2016)
No. 1399 Larry Crandell, Flushing, MI (November 2014) 
No. 1511 Larry Crandell, Flushing, MI (November 2014) 
No. 1521 Kristina’s Collectibles, Bloomington, IL (October 2014)
No. 1882 Kent Schoneman, Lenexa, KS (May 2015)
No. 1888 John Cleveland, AL (October 2015) 
No. 2158 John Cleveland, AL (June 2016)
No. 2378 Stuart McCaskill, Gladstone, MO (January 2016)
No. 2564 Michael Sims, Canton, MA
No. 2597 Paul Goldberg, Anioch TN (March 2016) 
No. 2628 Joe Cleveland, FL (February 2015) 
No. 2748 Kent Schoneman, Lexena, KS (May 2015)
No. 2795 Stanford, OR (March 2015) 
No. 2930 Mike Yeakel, Bellingham, WA (August 2018)
No. 3060 David and Amy Frahm for Ms. Elsie Myers, Trenton, OH (September 2013)
No. 3306 Dan & Linda Mostek, Howard County, NE (November 2012)
No. 3529 Pete Petersen, Surprise, AZ (January 2013)
No. 4452 Roger Stambaugh, Rock City, IL (October 2012)
No. 4639 Raphael Cole, Miami, FL (January 2016) 
No. 4677 Mike Yeakel, Bellingham, WA (August 2018)
No. 4856 Larry Crandell, Flushing, MI (November 2014)
No. 5250 Qualtiqs (January 2016)
No. 5557 Mark Lawson, Saratoga Springs, NY (December 2011)
No. 5650 The Hamiltons (January 2013)
No. 5689 Donley, Union, IL (July 2016)
No. 6021 John Cleveland, AL (September 2015)
No. 6282 Tim and Myra Knapp, San Antonio, TX (January 2017) 
No. 6647 Jerry Koch, Waite Park, MN (May 2015)
No. 6889 Raphael Cole, Miami, FL (July 2015) 
No. 7116 Larry Crandell, Flushing, MI (November 2014) (displays number only w/o the word “No.”)  
No. 7206 Raphael Cole, Miami, FL (September 2012)
No. 7277 René Rondeau (May 2015)
No. 7297 Jerry Blais (May 2015)

Locations and Street Addresses


The Theater Magazine, 1907



Review of Reviews, Jan. 1906



National Magazine, Sep 1906



Everybody’s Magazine, 1906

According to company publications and advertisements, The Duplex Phonograph Company operated in three primary locations; Lincoln, Nebraska; Chicago, Illinois; and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Advertisements typically place the factory and general offices in Kalamazoo, however Chicago offices were mentioned in some ads, and occasionally a “Western Office” in Lincoln. While the actual locations of the Duplex offices are known, the street addresses used by the company in its advertisements vary considerably. As the following list illustrates, dozens of different street addresses were published, perhaps as a means of identifying the publication from which orders originated.

Office & Factory Locations: Kalamazoo

  • 511 East Paterson Street, Kalamazoo, MI (street address)
  • 109-111 North Edwards Street, Kalamazoo, MI (1905-1906)
  • Paterson Street at Walbridge, Kalamazoo, MI (1906-1910)
  • 112 South Burdick Street, Kalamazoo, MI (1910-1912)

Office & Factory Locations: Lincoln

  • 118 South 14th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska (office, 1905)
  • 2418-2432 ‘N’ Street, Lincoln, Nebraska (factory, 1905-1906)

Office & Factory Location: Chicago

  • Powers Building, 37 S Wabash, Chicago, IL (1906)

Kalamazoo Addresses (advertised)

  • 10 Cedar St. (Scott County Kicker, 25 January 1908)
  • 223 Edward [sic] St. (The Commoner, 6 July 1906)
  • 233 Edward [sic] St. (The Commoner, 20 July 1906)
  • Patterson [sic] St. (The Graduate Magazine, University of Kansas, 1906-07)
  • 104 Patterson [sic] St. (Everybody’s, July 1906)
  • 106 Patterson [sic] St. (The Theater, Oct. 1906)
  • 107 Patterson [sic] St. (Cosmopolitan, June 1907)
  • 110 Patterson [sic] St. (The Delineator, December 1906)
  • 111 Patterson [sic] St. (Good Housekeeping, November 1906)
  • 126 Patterson [sic] St. (Munsey’s Magazine, November 1906)
  • 127 Patterson [sic] St. (unidentified magazine, 1907)
  • 128 Patterson [sic] St. (The World To-Day, December 1906)
  • 133 Patterson [sic] St. (The Commoner, 26 July 1907)
  • 138 Patterson [sic] St. (unidentified magazine ad, 1908)
  • 143 Patterson [sic] St. (Saturday Evening Post, 13 October 1906)
  • 143 Patterson [sic] St. (Saturday Evening Post, 26 Jan, 9 Feb, 16 Mar 1907)
  • 146 Patterson [sic] St. (Munsey’s Magazine, September 1906)
  • 146 Patterson [sic] St. (The Scrap Book, 1906)
  • 147 Patterson [sic] St. (McClure’s Magazine, November 1906)
  • 148 Patterson [sic] St. (New York Tribune, 23 September 1906)
  • 149 Patterson [sic] St. (unidentified magazine ad, 1907)
  • 151 Patterson [sic] St. (Success Magazine, October 1906)
  • 153 Patterson [sic] St. (Watson’s Magazine, October 1906)
  • 165 Patterson [sic] St. (Kimball’s Dairy Farmer, Jan., Aug., Sep., 1907)
  • 172 Patterson [sic] St. (The Theater, June 1907)
  • 173 Patterson [sic] St. (The Theater, July 1906)
  • 178 Patterson [sic] St. (The Michigan Alumnus, October 1906)
  • 183 Patterson [sic] St. (Farm Journal, November 1906)
  • 187 Patterson [sic] St. (The National Magazine, September 1906)
  • 189 Patterson [sic] St. (unidentified magazine ad, 1906)
  • 194 Patterson [sic] St. (Salesmanship, May 1907)
  • 197 Patterson [sic] St. (The Boston Cooking School Magazine, December 1906)
  • 201 Patterson [sic] St. (Farming Magazine, December 1906)
  • 202 Patterson [sic] St. (Uncle Remus’s Magazine, October 1907)
  • 208 Patterson [sic] St. (The Reader, December 1906)
  • 214 Patterson [sic] St. (The World Almanac, 1906)
  • 220 Patterson [sic] St. (The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, LA, 6 October 1907)
  • 229 Patterson [sic] St. (The Washington (D.C.) Times, 5 October 1907)
  • 295 Patterson [sic] St. (Every Where, March 1908)
  • 299 Patterson [sic] St. (The Pandex of the Press, July 1907)
  • 303 Patterson [sic] St. (Industrial Engineering and Engineering Digest, September 1907)
  • 304 Patterson [sic] St. (The Railway Conductor, December 1907)
  • 316 Patterson [sic] St. (The Connecticut Magazine, Summer 1907)
  • 330 Patterson [sic] St. (The Ohio Magazine, January 1908)
  • 331 Patterson [sic] St. (Popular Mechanics, September 1907)
  • 344 Patterson [sic] St. (The Nautilus Magazine, August 1907)
  • 348 Patterson [sic] St. (Technical World, March 1907)
  • 357 Patterson [sic] St. (Medical Insurance, August 1907)
  • 359 Patterson [sic] St. (The Philistine, 1907)
  • 372 Patterson [sic] St. (The Literary Digest, 31 August 1907)
  • 374 Patterson [sic] St. (Catholic World, July 1907)
  • 382 Patterson [sic] St. (Santa Fe Employe’s Magazine, January 1908)
  • 398 Patterson [sic] St. (American Poultry Advocate, December 1907)
  • 410 Patterson [sic] St. (Camera Craft, 1907)
  • 412 Patterson [sic] St. (Sunset Magazine, April 1907)
  • 12 River St. (Hunter, Trader, Trapper, August 1908)
  • 702 River St. (unidentified magazine ad, 1907)
  • 704 River St. (Popular Mechanics, December 1907)
  • 709 River St. (unidentified magazine, 1907)
  • 716 River St. (Munsey’s Magazine, 1908)
  • 719 River St. (unidentified magazine, 1907)
  • 721 River St. (Evening Star, [Washington, D.C.] 15 December 1907)
  • 722 River St. (McCall’s, January 1908)
  • 31 Rose St. (Republican News Item, [Laport, PA) 11 June 1908
  • 97 Wall St., C.Q. De France, Mgr. (Hunter, Trader, Trapper, March 1909)
  • 900 Wall St., C.Q. De France, Mgr. (The Progressive Woman, March 1909)
  • 988 Wall St., C.Q. De France, Mgr. (FRA Magazine, March 1909)

Chicago Addresses (advertised)

  • 1226 Powers Building (Munsey’s Magazine, 1906)
  • 1227 Powers Building (unidentified magazine ad)
  • 1228 Powers Building (The World To-Day, April 1906)
  • 1241 Powers Building (Watson’s Magazine, September 1906)
  • 1246 Powers Building (Munsey’s Magazine, September 1906)
  • 1248 Powers Building (New York Tribune, 23 September 1906)
  • 1250 Powers Building (The Review of Reviews, January 1906)
  • 1251 Powers Building (unidentified magazine ad, 1906)
  • 1253 Powers Building (Watson’s Magazine, October 1906)
  • 1277 Powers Building (Cosmopolitan Magazine, June 1906)
  • 1287 Powers Building (The National Magazine, September 1906)
  • 1289 Powers Building (unidentified magazine ad, 1906)
  • 154 Wabash (Duplex letterhead, dated February 1907)
  • 156 Wabash (Duplex company literature, undated)

Lincoln Addresses (advertised)

  • “Up-Town Office” 118 South 14th St., Lincoln, Neb. (Omaha Daily Bee, 10 September 1905)
  • “Factory” 2418 to 2432 ‘N’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (Omaha Daily Bee, 10 September 1905)
  • 1221, 1223, 1225, 1227 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (The Commoner, 29 December 1905)
  • 1233 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (The Commoner, 6 July 1906)
  • 1241 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (Watson’s Magazine, September 1906)
  • 1250 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (The Review of Reviews, January 1906)
  • 1251 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (unidentified magazine ad, 1906)
  • 1277 ‘O’ St., Lincoln, Neb. (Cosmopolitan Magazine, June 1906)

Continuing Research

Like many of our Local History essays, this article is by no means a definitive study; rather it should be viewed as a work-in-progress. If you have new information, corrections, or items to share, please contact the author or the Local History Room.

An earlier version of this article appeared in the May 2010 issue of In the Groove, a publication of The Michigan Antique Phonograph Society (MAPS). An edited version was later published in the March/April 2012 issue of Michigan History Magazine.



University of Michigan Department of Engineering General Announcement 1906-1907

  • University of Michigan.
  • 1906
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan

American Street Railway Investments, Volume 14

  • McGraw Publishing Company (Street Railway Journal).
  • 1907
  • New York, New York

Annual Report: Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, Volume 25

  • Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co.
  • 1908
  • Lansing, Michigan

The Life and Speeches of Thos. E. Watson

  • Watson, Thomas Edward.
  • 1908
  • Nashville, Tennessee

Annual Report: Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, Volume 26

  • Smythe, R. M. (Roland Mulville).
  • 1909
  • Lansing, Michigan

Annual Report: Michigan Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics

  • Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co.
  • 1910
  • Lansing, Michigan

Obsolete American Securities and Corporations, Second Volume (1904)

  • Smythe, R. M. (Roland Mulville).
  • 1911
  • New York

From Tinfoil to Stereo

  • Welch, Walter Leslie, Leah Brodbeck Stenzel Burt, Oliver Read.
  • 1976
  • 621.381 R284
  • ISBN 0-313-29200-0

The Patent History of the Phonograph, 1877-1912

  • Koenigsberg, Allen.
  • 1990
  • ISBN 0937612103 (Library of Congress TS2301.P3 K64 1990)

Directory of American Disc Record Brands and Manufacturers 1891-1943

  • Sutton, Allan.
  • 1994
  • ISBN 0-313-29200-0 (Library of Congress 93-44460)

The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, 2nd edition 

  • Hoffmann, Frank W. and Howard Ferstler
  • 2005


“Rapid Progress In Two Years (Michigan Novelty Works) ” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 26 June 1904.

“The Duplexophone Co.” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 20 May 1905, p. 48.


  • The Music Trade Review. 27 May 1905, p. 6.

“Would You Make an Investment Paying Big Dividends from the Start?” 

  • Omaha Daily Bee. 10 September 1905.

“Carpenters Have a Big Open Meeting”

  • The Wageworker. (Lincoln, Neb.). 20 October 1905, p. 1.

“Phonograph Company To Locate Here” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 30 November 1905.

“This Factory Acts As Factory For All” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 3 December 1905, p. 10.

“General Mention (Frank D. Eager)”

  • The Wageworker. (Lincoln, Neb.). 15 December 1905, p. 9.

“Canning Music in Kalamazoo” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 22 December 1905, p. 7.

“The Menace of Mechanical Music” 

  • Sousa, John Philip. Appleton’s Magazine, Vol. 8. 1906, pp. 278-284.

“Charles E. Hill” 

  • The American Stationer. 13 January 1906, p. 13.

“A Hustling Industry” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 14 January 1906, p. 8.

“Articles of Incorporation”

  • The Wageworker. (Lincoln, Neb.). 27 April 1906, p. 4.

“May Locate in Kalamazoo” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 27 January 1906, p. 43.

“Made For You In Kalamazoo” 

  • Kalamazoo Telegraph. 18 May 1906.

“Duplex Phono. Co.’s Building” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 28 July 1906, p. 36.

“Thousand To Dance In Big New Plant” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 7 September 1906, p. 6.

“1200 Attend Grand Ball” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 8 September 1906.

“Duplex Phonograph Co. Celebrate” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 22 September 1906, p. 38.

“Michigan Companies Incorporate” 

  • Detroit Free Press. 2 November 1906, p. 14.

“The Commoner” 

  • N.W. Ayer & Son's American newspaper annual (advertisement). 1907, p. 1,314.

“Preliminary Injunction Papers Filed” 

  • Kalamazoo Telegraph. 6 February 1907.

“Fight Over Phonographs” 

  • Detroit Free Press. 7 February 1907, p. 6.

“What the Victor Company’s Victories Mean” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 2 March 1907, p. 43.

“Duplex Plant Is Closed By Courts” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 23 March 1907, p. 5.

“Col. Eager Denies Story” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 24 March 1907.

“Infringement Case Argued” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 30 March 1907, p. 37.

“Duplex Company Is Winner Over Trust” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 2 May 1907, p. 5.

“Preliminary Injunction Denied” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 4 May 1907, p. 28.

“Ask An Injunction” 

  • Grand Rapids Press. 8 November 1907, p. 2.

“Victor-Duplex Co. Suit” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 16 November 1907, p. 38.

“Infringement Is Alleged” 

  • Detroit Free Press. 23 January 1908, p. 6.

“Duplex-Victor Litigation” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 1 February 1908, p. 38.

“Victor-Duplex Co. Litigation” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 25 April 1908, p. 6.

“Duplex Company Mortgage Filed” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 19 May 1908, p. 8.

“Company To Bring Its Plant Here” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 19 May 1908, p. 4.

“Talked In The Town” 

  • Grand Rapids Evening Press. 9 June 1908, p. 3.

“Are Hot After A Kalamazoo House” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 21 June 1908, p. 1.

“Phillips Company Wins” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 21 April 1909, p. 3.

“Is Hit A Hard Blow” 

  • Grand Rapids Evening Press. 27 May 1909, p. 10.

“Duplex Company Is Defeated In Court” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 28 May 1909, p. 8.

“Arranges Calendar For November Term” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 2 November 1909, p. 3.

“Sunday Morning Fire” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 14 December 1909, p. 4.

“For Sale: Two-Story brick factory building...” (classified ad) 

  • Detroit Free Press. 23 February 1910, p. 12.

“Duplex Foreclosure Sale” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 1 March 1910, p. 10.

“Sale Is Postponed; Director A Bidder” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 4 March 1910, p. 8.

“Trio of Men Bid In Old Phonograph Site” 

  • Kalamazoo Gazette. 5 March 1910, p. 10.

“Into New Plant” 

  • Michigan Manufacturer. 8 October 1910, p. 10.

“Forced To Go Out Of Business” 

  • Detroit Free Press. 21 October 1910, p. 11.

“Phonograph Company Passes” 

  • Grand Rapids Evening Press. 21 October 1910, p. 18.

“Decision Reserved in Duplex Co. Case” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 22 October 1910, p. 42.

“End of Duplex Phonograph Co.” 

  • The Music Trade Review. 29 October 1910, p. 80.

“Phonograph Forum - The Kalamazoo Duplex” 

  • Paul, George
  • the New Amberola Graphic. Spring, 1984.

“Kalamazoo Discs” 

  • Petty, John A.
  • the New Amberola Graphic. Spring, 1984.

“Kalamazoo Records - A brief listing of known records compiled by W.R. Bryant” 

  • Bryant, W.R.
  • the New Amberola Graphic. Spring, 1984.

“The Maddening Duplex Catalogue” 

  • Bryan, Martin.
  • the New Amberola Graphic. Spring, 1984.

Local History Room Files

Subject File: Duplex Phonograph Company 

Standard Atlas of Kalamazoo County, 1910


Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies 

  • A Library of Congress Collection. This site features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles. Cylinder sound recordings will be added to this site in the near future. In addition, histories are given of Edison's involvement with motion pictures and sound recordings, as well as a special page focusing on the life of the great inventor. 

The Antique Phonograph Society (formerly Michigan Antique Phonograph Society) 

  • A worldwide society of collectors who share a passion for the preservation of antique phonographs and records. The group publishes a quarterly journal called The Antique Phonograph (formerly known as The Sound Box). 

Nauck's Vintage Records 

  • International auctioneers of original 78 rpm and cylinder records and phonographs (1890-1960) 

The Old Crank 

  • Vintage phonographs & ephemera 

The Victor-Victrola Page 

  • A site dedicated to phonographs made by The Victor Talking Machine Company from 1901 through 1929. It contains detailed information about the various models that were produced by Victor, along with rarity, design features, technical information, valuation, etc. This site is for beginners and seasoned collectors alike. 


“Instructions For Setting Up and Operating The Duplex Phonograph”  

  • The Old Crank. (n.d.) Retrieved July 15, 2009

“Meyer-Cord Co. v. Hill et al.” (No. 15,530) (Supreme Court of Nebraska, 13 April 1909) 

  • The Northwestern Reporter, Volume 120, April 2 – May 28, 1909,  p. 951-952.

“Victor Talking Mach. Co. V. Duplex Phonograph Co.” (15 October 1910)  

  • The Federal Reporter, Volume 182, December, 1910 – January, 1911,  822-825.

“Duplex Phonograph playing ‘That's My Weakness Now’”  

“A Restored Kalamazoo Duplex Phonograph playing ‘Hello Montreal’”  

“Creating a Home Culture for the Phonograph: Women and the Rise of Sound Recordings in the United States, 1877-1913”  

Kalamazoo Valley Museum Donations Wish List:

  • Duplex phonograph record player (1905-1910)


Special thanks to the following readers for sharing their photos and information:

  • Kurt Nauck, Nauck’s Vintage Records, Spring, TX
  • phonomike, Cobweb Secrets, Fargo, ND
  • Raphael Cole, Musical Treasures of Miami, Miami, FL
  • Grant Kornberg, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Mark Lawson Antiques, Inc., Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Pete Petersen, Surprise, AZ
  • Roger Stambaugh, Rock City, IL
  • Dan & Linda Mostek, Howard County, NE
  • Andrea Allenberg
  • Larry Crandell, Flushing, MI
  • Amy & David Frahm for Miss Elsie Myers, Trenton, OH
  • Guy Laboissonniere
  • Steve Andersen, The Talking Machine Co.
  • Robert Coon, Menasha, WI
  • Don Durand
  • Kristina’s Collectibles, Bloomington, IL
  • Kent Schoneman, Lenexa, KS
  • John Cleveland, AL
  • Stuart McCaskill, Gladstone, MO
  • Paul Goldberg, Anioch TN
  • Joe Cleveland, FL
  • Mike Yeakel, Bellingham, WA
  • René Rondeau
  • Jerry Blais


  • “Your article is really nice and comprehensive. I spent many years while growing up at my grand parent’s cottage on Diamond Lake - Cassopolis, MI. I had ads looking for phonographs in the Kalamazoo area for many years (1973 to 1985) and although I found many Edison Phonographs, I never found any Duplex machines!” —Steve Andersen, May 2015
  • “I’m incredibly impressed with your detailed page on the Kalamazoo Duplex. I no longer own the one I used to have in my collection. I believe the machine is now in a collection in France.” —René Rondeau, May 2015
  • “... the most complete, well-researched work on Duplex I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing!” —George P., May 2015
  • “I enjoyed your article about the Kalamazoo Duplex talking machine.” —Jerry Blais, May 2015
  • “I really enjoyed reading the company’s history.” —Andrea Allenberg, January 2013
  • “Your article on the Kalamazoo Duplex Phonograph Company was much appreciated since I own one of their machines. Thank you for your excellent research.” —Jim C., Austin, TX, May 2010
  • “This is great. About ten years ago we tried to find the Duplex site by the street address and wound up somewhere next to a river. It was vacant but had some evidence of a building sometime in the past. We should have gone to the library!” —Phil Stewart, Michigan Antique Phonograph Society, August 2009

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