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"Henri Lioret, Clockmaker and Phonograph Pioneer"
By Julien Anton - Reviewed by René Rondeau (The Sound Box)
.... Quite simply put, Henri Lioret was far in advance of his American competitors and his story is long overdue to be told. Fortunately for collectors everywhere, that day has finally come, with the just-published book "Henri Lioret, Un Horloger Pionnier du Phonographe by Julien Anton a well-known collector (and a contributor to these pages in years past).
As the title suggests, this exciting new 232-page book is written in French. But lest that discourage any American collectors who are not French-speakers, let me immediately point out that the more than 200 gorgeous color photographs are all captioned in both French and English, AND - importantly - the book comes with a separate 144-page English translation of the entire text.
That this amazing book is a labor of love, resulting from literally decades of dedicated research, is evident upon first viewing. But it is only upon reading the beautifully written text that one can begin to appreciate the monumental work that went into creating this masterpiece. There have been many fine books published in our hobby in the past decade, but it is hard to imagine any book devoted to a single topic that can begin to rival the depth of Anton's comprehensive research.
.... Julien Anton has done a superb job of presenting an overview of Lioret's life and work - his initial career as a prominent clock and watchmaker, his numerous phonographic inventions (beginning with the "Bebe Jumeau" talking doll in 1893), and eventually leading to pioneering work in phonetics, microphonics, and military technology, and ending with a quiet retirement as a gifted artist. But while
this biographical background is covered, unlike many books it does noweigh down the story. This book is firmly fo-cussed on Lioret's phonographs, and they are covered in impressive depth.
Part one puts Lioret into the context of his time and place, an engaging and highly readable overview of his work. Part two is devoted to Lioret phonographs, of which there are a couple of dozen different models and several varieties. Each is beautifully photographed in full color and comprehensively described, with contemporary pictures, advertisements, catalogs, and other wonderful ephemera filling out the story. The various types of reproducers and horns designed by Lioret are illustrated and described, and a very detailed section thoroughly describes the vast variety of cylinders made by Lioret, as well as the manufacturing process. A series of appendices offers detailed information on production, variations and rarity as well as many other subjects of interest to all serious collectors.
It is difficult to do justice to a book like "Henri Lioret" in a short review. There is really nothing to compare it to, so unique is it in terms of its focus, completeness, sumptuous beauty, and readability. I defy anyone to read this superb effort and not feel inspired to own one of Lioret's phonographs and hear for themselves the stunning quality of recording that he presented to his customers at a time when Edison and Columbia were still struggling to master the process. Lioret truly was ahead of his time, and Julien Anton has done great honor to him, as well as a great service to all collectors, by writing this important work.
The Sound Box, The Journal of the California Antique Phonograph Society (Vol. XXIV , n° 1, March 2006).
By Steve Ramm
A landmark book on an overlooked phonograph pioneer - While thomas Edison, Emile Berliner and Eldridge R. Johnson get most inventing or improving the phonograph, little mention is made of a clockmaker in France who produced some of the most intricate — as well as affordable — mechanisms for reproducing recorded sound. Until now! Collector and researcher, (MAPS member) Julien Anton has devoted decades to researching Henri Lioret and his efforts are now available to all in his newly published book Henri Lioret: Clockmaker and Phonograph Pioneer. The 232-page large-format soft cover volume may be the most beautifully produced book on talking machines every published. (Unlike more recent books printed in China, this appears to have been printed in France.) Almost none of the phonographs and ephemera were available in the U.S. (unless they were brought back by collectors) so there’s a new discovery on every page. The first half of the book is devoted
to the inventor (with a well-done introduction to industry included). And there’s space devoted to Lioret's wtaches and music boxes as well. The second half concentrates on his phonographs with crystal clear color photos showing every detail of the mechanisms.These phonographs — and much of the ephemera — come from Anton’s collection. He also had access to documents from the Lioret family and these are reproduced for the first time. The captions for the multitude of photos are in both French and English, while the text is all in French. BUT, Anton wanted the world to use his research and so the book comes with a companion 141-page translation in English. (Kudos here to translator Mark Yates for performing the translation task.) The book may seem pricey at $75 but the quality (and he weight to ship it from France in a sturdy carton) reflect the value. This is book for current and futures generations and belongs in every library.
In The Groove, A Publication of The Michigan Antique Phonograph Society (Vol. XXXV n° 4, April 2006).
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