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Voice records


Postal envelope for a Voice Record
Aluminuim disc with Voice Record label

'Voice Records' are thin aluminium discs about the same size as a CD. They are recorded on both sides, one side being a personal message and the other side being a pre-recorded advertisment. They were made in the 1930s by automatic machines installed in department stores, seaside pleasure piers and other locations where the public might want to record a short message which could be posted to their loved ones at home. An envelope was provided with the record and a packet containing a small number of wooden needles which were essential for playback on the heavy gramophones of the day. (One playing with a steel needle could irretrievably wipe the sound off the record).

The advertisments were usually for cigarettes, sung by the music-hall comedian, Bobbie Comber. Less often, the advetisment is for a local shop or attraction such as the Pier at Weston-Super-Mare or the suppliers of bed linen for the ocean liners based in Liverpool.

 

Each side of the record plays for about one minute and the recording quality varies from quite acceptable to absolutely dire, depending on how frequently the recording machine was serviced. The recording machines were made by Brecknell, Munro & Rodgers of Bristol. They were withdrawn during WWII but the casings were re-used after the war by being converted to "Speak Your Weight" machines or "Punch Bag" machines. The company which operated the Voice Record booths was the Amusement Equipment Co. Ltd. of Wembly.