Images of ITMA Cylinder Sound Recordings


The earliest physical format used for the recording and playback of sound was a cylinder mounted on a revolving phonograph mandrel. The invention in 1877 of the American Thomas Edison, this format employed a cylinder which was at first covered by tinfoil, and then by ‘wax’, celluloid, and other substances. Increasingly replaced by gramophone discs from the late 1890s, cylinder recordings were essentially obsolete technology by the period of the First World War, although Edison persisted with their production until the onset in 1929 of the Great Depression.

Since most people alive today will never have seen cylinder recordings, a selection of images of cylinders from the hundred or so in the the collections of the Irish Traditional Music Archive is presented here. This gallery consists mainly of images of recordings made in Dublin in 1907 by the Sterling Company of London. It is to be viewed in conjunction with an ITMA audio playlist of Sterling cylinders, which are available here, along with the story of their creation.

The ITMA cylinder collection will be the basis of a Heritage Week 2013 exhibition in ITMA’s premises at 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, which will be complemented by these images and the connected audio playlist.

NC & ES, 1 August 2013

Images of ITMA Cylinder Sound Recordings