From Issue 52, 25th October 1905
I haven’t been able to find any further information about this particular model, but YouTube has a video of a similar Victorian machine, Padbury’s Patent Indispensable Music Leaf Turner: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdHs-vDNso
The inventor of the Pneumec, George Percy Mitchener, was born about 1875, and in 1891 was a pupil at the Gordon Boys Home in Woking following the death of both parents. The school was run on military lines and included instruction in music, carpentry, metal-working and plan drawing, all of which no doubt helped develop his invention. From school he joined the Royal Navy and by 1911 was a Chief Petty Officer on the Inflexible.
George married Edith Alexander Robinson in 1900, at which time he was described as a Torpedo instructor, and died in 1955. She was a school mistress, and seemed to have carried on her occupation after the marriage.
Issue 78, 25th April 1906, carried a rather strange article about what was by then an old news story, the guilty person having been sentenced to death in 1881. It is not clear what brought this case to the attention of the Editor in 1906, unless it was then that Mr Fox himself recounted his near-involvment in the 25-year-old case. A biography of GD Fox can be found on the composer biography page.
This week Issue 76 saw the publication of the second in the new series, Comedy of Errors, aimed at the amateur, beginner pianist. Just for fun, here is the first part, printed a week earlier. There are some biographical notes about the author of this series, Clement A Harris, on the Composer Biography page.
In Issue 75 of 4 April 1906 the Editor made reference to a new system of exercises to enable rapid technical mastery of the piano, but provided no details other than the author’s name – Macdonald Smith.
William Macdonald Smith was born in 1859 in England, the son of a law clerk to the wine trade. I have been able to find no information regarding his musical training, and on the 1901 Census he was described as a Civil Engineer.
Prior to this he published at least two articles in the Proceedings of the Musical Association – “The Physiology of Pianoforte Playing with a Practical Application of a New Theory” in 1887 and “From Brain to Keyboard: – New and Complete Practical Solution Of All Technical Difficulties” in 1894.
From the early 1900’s he advertised a Correspondence Course in various British newspapers using the title “From Brain to Keyboard” and in 1917 his book with the same title was published in the US. In the preface he refers to having studied the system “for half a lifetime”.
Macdonald Smith married Ethelinda Jessie Cassels in Oporto, Portugal in 1891. They had 7 children, 3 of whom died young. Macdonald Smith died in 1930.
The Editor was certainly busy planning lots of new features at the end of 1905 and into 1906. In Issue 66, 31st January 1906, he announced to his readers how to make use of the the new “Whys and Replies” feature, and also introduced a “Small Ads” section, complete with a deposit system to try to protect both buyers and sellers.
This week in Issue 63 the Editor announced another forthcoming additon to MHJ – a musical notes and queries section. Publication would start in Issue 67 with the title “Whys and Replies”. The specific correspondant mentioned, Lena Guilbert Ford, was a regular contributor to various magazines, and a lyricist, but was later to become best known for her collaboration with the composer Ivor Novello, writing the lyrics for the song “Keep the Home Fires Burning”. Ford was an American who moved to London with her mother and son following divorce and in 1918 Ford and her son were among the fatalities in an air raid.
One of the Editor’s new ideas was a subscription system which would effectively reserve a copy to be delivered by the subscriber’s own newsagent. The annual cost of the magazine itself would have been 4 shillings and 4 pence, leaving 3 shillings and 2 pence to pay for the “free gifts”! In 1904 articles in several newspapers, including the Belper News, suggested a weekly charge of perhaps 1d for delivery of daily newspapers, so there may well have been no extra charge for delivering a weekly magazine. In addition, the retail cost of the Ingersoll Crown Pocket Watch in 1904 was 5 shillings, and no doubt the MHJ Editor was able to secure a supply at trade prices. I have no idea what the pictures offered as an alternative to the watch might have been!
Also published in Issue 57 was a musical based quiz – this is reproduced on the Editorial Extracts page. Just in case any readers should have difficulty with this, here are the answers, which appeared in the following week’s issue.
The “record” the editor refers to would have been a cylinder, as Edison Bell did not make flat discs until 1913, although they had been developed by Berliner in the 1890s. There were three main producers of recorded music in the early 1900s – Edison, Columbia and Victor. The cost of players varied from 45 shillings in 1904 for the cheapest Gem machines, while the Standard was advertised at £4 4s in 1905. Recordings tended to be of the most popular songs and artists, since the range of what was possible to record was limited to the “loud and distinct”. Stanley Kirkby was a variety artist known for his very pure baritone voice and clear diction, ideal for the recording techniques of the time. He was extremely prolific and very well paid, working for most of the companies, using him own name as well as many pseudonyms.
From Issue 49, 4th October 1905
I grew up knowing this as a household scouring powder, and one to be kept away from too much skin contact. Very surprised then to see it advertised in MHJ originally as a hand cleaner! Even more surprised to find that according to the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/sep/09/bacon.art) Francis Bacon used it as a toothpaste!
Vim was one of Lever Brother earliest scouring powders, introduced in 1904 as a related product to their Monkey Brand soap. Unilever dropped it in favour of its Jif, later Cif in the UK, but it is still available in some parts of the world.