As We See It

In the digital age, Las Vegas Phonograph Co. is keeping it analog

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Doug Franck of the Las Vegas Phonograph Company collects antique telephones, cameras, radios, Victrolas, costumes, photos and books with nothing newer than the 1960s on Tuesday, February, 24, 2015. L.E. Baskow
Photo: L.E. Baskow

Doug Franck is diagnosing a phonograph, a 1908 Edison Standard Model C. “It’s a spring problem,” he concludes after removing the lid and spinning the hand crank. His young customer holds up a grease-blotched hand. “It’s well-oiled,” she says.

“Ah, this is nothing,” he replies. “Sometimes I open one up, and it’s like opening a box of oil.” It’s not something you say about a CD player.

Las Vegas Phonograph Co.

Franck opened Las Vegas Phonograph Co. on Decatur Boulevard in February, specializing in antique wind-up phonographs, radios, cameras and telephones. The antique music players, which play cylinders or flat discs and amplify sound through a horn, sell for $350 to $10,500 and come in table-top and cabinet versions.

Thomas Edison discovered how to record and reproduce sound in 1877, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that phonographs gained popularity. Though wind-up models eventually lost favor to electric ones, they remain coveted among collectors. “They make a sound that you can’t get anywhere else,” Franck says. “It will reproduce every imperfection in the record.” Those imperfections are a selling point for record players, with fans contending that the ever-changing sound enlivens the musical experience.

Franck says his customers are locals, East Coast Americans, Europeans and Chinese businessmen. “There’s a lot of people who grew up in the digital age who have decided to look back and see what the analog age had to say, and they like it. Obviously I do—I have 40,000 records at home.”

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