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treefrog
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New Polyphon Supply shocker identified

Postby treefrog » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:17 pm

Nobody has mentioned this, so thought I would as of course it stayed cheap on eBay for ages, but reached a price at £455..... Bloke's owned for many years after been found in a family off-license cellar... Looks ok interesting, but no idea who made this as Harper’s seem to be the supplier. Did check with Mr PM who may have been a bit coy as had not seen ;-) , but looks a professional item.

Anyone know its providence.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Harper-Autom ... true&rt=nc
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paul
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby paul » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:47 pm

Re Electric Shocker Machine, here is another one (until recently in my collection). I think they date from the 1900s. Also saw one in ITALY for sale a few years ago -- so there must be a few still about.
Picture 1486.jpg
Picture 1485.jpg

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treefrog
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby treefrog » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:17 pm

Nice one, exactly the same. !!THUMBSX2!! I see paperwork on the front and a badge on the side. Did these give any info on the maker?

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pennymachines
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby pennymachines » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:27 am

treefrog wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:17 pm
Did check with Mr PM who may have been a bit coy as had not seen ;-) , but looks a professional item.
You might say I'm coy
'Cause I'm just a little country boy
but I didn't see it till you posted it here. I forgot to look after you mentioned it.

As for provenance, could it be American - the Detroit Medical Battery Co.?

More than anything it resembles their metal bodied shockers described here by Bob.

One of these, together with a wooden example, similar but not identical to the one you found (plus a Hooper Automatics shocker), sold at Christie's Costa auction of 2006.

43,44,45.jpg
It was catalogued as an Imperial Electric Co. product, as they generally were back then, but thanks to Bob, we know better now.

Lot 137 at the EH sale last March included a shocker with a little carved pediment, apparently missing from the otherwise identical examples above. Unfortunately, the listing contained nothing about a maker.
137.jpg

13rebel
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby 13rebel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:46 am

I thought it may have been the Electric Volta as listed in the Braithwaite book under 'D. Harper, London, probably a supplier' but there is an Electric Volta by D. Harper in Nic Costa's Automatic Pleasures which is entirely different to the ebay one. No mention of the 'D' on the label in the ebay one so perhaps not connected. Jentsch and Meerz also made a Volta. The 'north' in the telephone number in the ebay one refers to the Barnsbury area in London N1. Not much help really.

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pennymachines
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby pennymachines » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:04 pm

Yes, I think the 1899 Electric Volta listed by Paul Braithwaite under D Harper & Co. ('probably a supplier') is most likely the shocker in question. The 266-8 Holloway Road address is close enough to the 258/262 Holloway Road address recorded in Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. It also shares the same phone number. The activities of that company listed there begin in 1929 but there is a parallel Harper Piano Co. at 256/262 Holloway Road making player pianos from 1922 (managing director Sidney C. Harper). It would seem then that Mr Harper was in fact trading in coin-operated machines in that area around the turn of the century.

$_57.JPG
D. Harper token submitted by Sweetmeats
I now suspect the variously named D. Harper and Cos. Automatic Machines, Harper's Automatic Co. Ltd. and the Harper Piano Co. all of Holloway Road, London (under Sidney C. Harper or D. Harper) have no connection with the Harper Automatic Machine Manufacturing Co. Limited, Automatic Works, Stafford Road, Waddon, Croydon, Surrey which made vending machines under Percy Stephen Harper around the same time.

This gets us no closer to a manufacturer. It's similarities to the Detroit Medical Battery Co.'s design may be misleading. Haydon & Co., for example, made something similar.
Permier.jpg

13rebel
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby 13rebel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:46 pm

So does that leave us questioning the validity of the Nic Costa entry of the Electric Volta by D. Harper and Co., London, 1899?

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gameswat
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby gameswat » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:36 pm

PM, the inner workings of this Volta share almost nothing with the US Detroit Medical Battery which are incredibly simple in comparison.

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pennymachines
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby pennymachines » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:42 pm

OK Gameswat, so it seems more likely it's British.

Unfortunately Nic doesn't state where his image of the Electric Volta was from, so we can only guess that the original source included the D. Harper & Co. attribution. Paul Braithwaite cites this page of Nic's book as his source. I assume Paul had some reason to believe Harper was probably only a distributor as Nic did not say so. It is notable that the label on the ebay example said Supplied by Harper's (not Manufactured). Perhaps this, combined with the fact that we have two quite different shockers from Harper, lends weight to the idea that they were supplying machines from different manufacturers. The only manufacturing mentioned by Grace's Guide is small stuff like "Leather Goods, Albums, Calendars, Blotters, Diaries, Stationery Goods and Advertising Gifts". On the other hand, the Harper Piano Co. were apparently making Singing Birds and Harmonic Synchronising Pianos for Cinema Theatres, amongst other things in the 1920s.
ElectricVolta.jpg

13rebel
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Re: Harper’s Volta? Electric shock

Postby 13rebel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:03 pm

Ah righto, it was the fact that they are both dated 1899 that threw me a bit off course.


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