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RFC/RAF gramophone WW1


Well-Known Member

Table gramophone in handmade decorated case : Repair Park No 1, RFC/RAF

It's a shame I could not make the picture bigger to make the the carving details more clear.

The cabinet base features a carved panel on each long side, that on the left bearing the wings of the RFC (within an oval frame, with floral garlands to each side, while the right side features the wings of the RAF (Royal Air Force), carved in the same manner. The rear panel bears the following in capital decorative script, augmented by floral garlands: 'REPAIR PARK NO 1 A.S.D. FRANCE'.

The two small front doors each feature a square decorative panel on both exterior and interior - that on the left exterior featuring the King's crown over an eagle with a wreath to the base, with the interior panel having a design of '1918', with the numbers interleaving. The right side exterior features the initials 'RFC' and King's crown withing an enclosing wreath; with the interior carved with the following: 'Designer Cpl Crutchley / Maker Cpl Boarder / Carver A.M. Crawford / All of the R.A.F.' The door handles are circular carved flowers.

The playing mechanism and ancilliaries all appear to be Columbia in origin. The playing head is marked Columbia, and is a 'Grafonola' model, early mica-sheet diaphram version with nickle-plated brass hardware and rubber gaskets. The tone arm and its support collar, most unusually, are both made from wood; the tone arm construction appears to be made from at least four to five pieces.

It was made in 1918 at No 1 Repair Park, Aeroplane Supply Depot at St Omer, France. Speculatively, the wood used in its manufacture was sourced from timber salvaged from aircraft propellers. The use of narrows strips of wood in a regular pattern of 28mm/28mm/8mm cannot really be explained in any other manner, especially given the unit's location at an aircraft repair section.

Of particular note is the quality of A.M. Crawford's carving which is evident in all panels on the gramophone case. The delicate curved tapering shell of the tone arm, made from multiple sections, is striking. It would appear that only the motor, turntable, playing head, speed and stop controls are commercial items.