Is this a record? Kind of. These are Edison Diamond Discs, a format used between 1912 and 1929 by–you guessed it–Edison Records. I came upon three of them today while checking on some of our uncatalogued materials.
Unlike most records of their day (or any day, really), diamond discs are about 1/4″ thick with very thin grooves. As their name suggests, they’re meant to be played with a diamond-tipped stylus, rather than a more typical steel needle; in fact they flat-out won’t play on the Victrola machine most people envision when thinking about playing older records. Instead, they’re built to be played on Edison’s own Edison Disc Phonograph–something our library is sadly lacking.
Their fine grooves allowed for a longer playback than contemporary 10″ records, but the medium never quite caught on with the public. Whether it was because of the musical selection (Edison favored more traditional music over the jazz that was becoming increasingly popular during the era), the cost, or the fact that they were incompatible with most other types of contemporary records and machines, the technology ultimately vanished from the marketplace when Edison Records closed in 1929.