AMECO Step Up To Mike identified

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coppinpr
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AMECO Step Up To Mike identified

Post by coppinpr »

I'm looking for any information about a coin operated voice recording machine made by the Amusement Equipment Co Ltd of Wembley London in conjunction with Voice Records Ltd. I understand that this machine was adopted by the Dutch postal service as part of their Phono Post system. Can anyone help?

Edit-;
I now have a photo of this amazing machine (photographed in Malta) and a little info: date about 1934 and appears in the film Brighton rock (1947), certainly in use in Holland into the 1950s. Anyone heard of the makers?
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sound-bootha.jpg
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pennymachines
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Re: any info please

Post by pennymachines »

The Amusement Equipment Co. (AMECO) catalogue, which includes a picture and description of Step Up To Mike, is in Resources.
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Step-Up.jpg
slmvbs
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Re: AMECO Step Up To Mike identified

Post by slmvbs »

Hi,
Not sure if you're still seeking information about this machine, but if you are, this is what I know.

The machine was patented by John Field in 1934. He had a company called John Field (Automatic Machines) Ltd before going on to found Voice Records Ltd. Ameco was a subcontractor which built the machines to his design. Voice Records was floated on the Stock market in 1935 and had some notable people on the board including Christopher Stone, an early BBC 'DJ' as Director of Technology. The first public demonstration was at the 1935 Radiolympia show at which it proved very popular. Most machines were placed in department stores such as Owen Owen in Liverpool, stores of the Binns Ltd company in Scotland and northern England and as far afield as Plymouth to Belfast in the UK. Some machines toured the country as part of the National Savings Campaign in the years immediately before the outbreak of WW2. Many others were placed in amusement arcades or seaside piers associated with Ameco.

The price of 6d per recording was cheap in comparison with other ventures of the time as the recordings had a pre recorded advert on the other side either from a tobacco company such as Abdulah's or in respect of the store or venue which was hosting the machine. About half a dozen machines made their way to the Netherlands and were to be found in department stores such as Hema, de Bijenhorf or Vroom & Dressman. The Dutch postal service (PTT) installed machines (within booths) in major post offices and the system became part of the international Phonopost service linking families to Dutch colonies in the East & West Indies.

An example can be found in the Beeld en Geluid museum in the Hauge, but I'm not sure if it's currently on display. The machine in Malta was purchased by the Friends of the National Archives from a long established music store in Valletta which in turn had bought it from a local aristocratic businessman. Machines were also to be found in Sydney (Grace Brothers Dept store (yes there really was a Grace Bros!) and one was purchased by Sir Victor Sasson's Cathay Hotel in Shanghai (now known as the Peace Hotel).

Voice Records went into Liquidation by 1938 along with John Field's other companies. It is believed that the stock market flotation wasn't as successful as hoped, and the number of machines needed to make a profit never reached the targeted 750. I believe the actual number was less than 100. I'm still seeking information regarding the mechanics of how it worked so if anybody out there has any info please get in touch. It's worth looking on Facebook or Pinterest for details of the record labels or recordings - some copies are held by the British Library and the Imperial War Museum.
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pennymachines
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Re: AMECO Step Up To Mike identified

Post by pennymachines »

Lots of great information there. Thank you for taking the time to post it. I'm curious to know where your interest and knowledge of these stems from.
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pennymachines
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Re: AMECO Step Up To Mike identified

Post by pennymachines »

More info about these and the records they produced collected by slmvbs here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/slmvbs/voice-records-ltd/
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records1.jpg
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