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Phonograph Motor


This object is a motor mounted on a wooden board with a wooden backplate. A long cable with a toggle switch and standard two-prong wall plug is attached.

The motor itself consists of a heavy metal cylindrical body on a heavy metal frame. Attached to the frame there is a small cylindrical piece mounted sideways that appears to allow switching between DC and AC. Attached to the motor’s spindle there is a speed governor consisting of a round disk, then four thin metal strips mounted around the spindle at right angles to each other, each with a cylindrical metal weight affixed to its center. Also attached to the motor, above the spindle, is a curved arm that, when raised and lowered through a screw mechanism, lowers two small felt or leather pieces on the ends of a semi-circular metal arm to brush against the disk at the base of the governor. This is also to adjust the speed.

Accession Number: 2017.psy.182

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Metal, Wood (Plywood), Fabric, Plastic


On a label affixed to the motor’s body: “Konowatt MADE BY THOMAS A. EDISON INC. ORANGE, N.J., U.S.A.”
“No. 91799 VOLTS 110”.

On a small metallic piece: “-> DC” “-> AC”

Written in chalk on the wooden backboard mount: “M”

Dimensions (cm): 17.8 cm x 7.3cm x 14cm


This motor would have been originally mounted inside an Edison phonograph, likely to turn a wax cylinder for audio, likely voice, recording.


Poor. The motor and plate on which it is mounted are covered in substantial amounts of grime. The motor’s surface is marked and dulled.

The cable’s insulation, consisting of fabric over plastic, is severely degraded. In places, it has been taped with black electrical tape.

The motor has been removed from its original location inside an Edison Konowatt Phonograph, and mounted on a new piece of board.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Thomas A. Edison Inc.

Date of Manufacture: c. 1920s


University of Toronto Department of Psychology

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: