The Edison Ideal or Idelia Phonograph
The Edison Ideal Phonograph first became available for purchase by the public in October of 1907. The name Ideal was only used for the first two months of production, due to troubles with foreign marketing, as well as potential legal infractions with that name in the United States. The Ideal was renamed Idelia in January of 1908, and was Edison’s top-of-the-line phonograph until 1911, when it began to be replaced by the Edison Opera.
The Ideal/Idealia was unique to Edison’s phonograph line, and Edison made no similar phonograph. All metal parts were ornamented with a copper oxidizing process, rather than the traditional black paint and gold ornamentation. The motor was nearly the same as the Triumph line, and The Idelia models followed the same progression as those machines. The Ideal phonographs were originally two minute machines with straight paneled horns. Later, as the models progressed, they would receive eleven panel cygnet horns which were grain-painted mahogany, and finally they received mahogany “music master” horns such as those found on the Edison Opera. Idelias are very rare today and are quite coveted by collectors. Some collectors have suggested that less than 500 machines were originally manufactured, but documentation of this has not yet been substantiated. Certainly, the few surviving examples suggest low production figures. The price of these machines was $125.00, which was quite a significant sum at the turn of the century.