Part I: The Michigan Antique Phonograph Society

Part II: The California Antique Phonograph Society

Part I


Offered by Bowen Broock,  M.A.P.S.  Member # 17 with John Hauger


At the Union, Illinois  meet in June, 2013, members of APS (the Antique Phonograph Society), and MAPS (the Michigan Antique Phonograph Society) gathered for dinner to hear and endorse a proposal to merge the two preeminent Societies and form a new, single, stronger unit, aptly – The Antique Phonograph Society.  While the creation of our new Association looks forward to an era of growth, international in scope, many might wish to recall the earlier, formative days of MAPS: the progenitor of so many societies to follow.


For those of us who are “MAPS-ers”, we can look back to our founding in Grand Ledge, not far from Lansing, Michigan. The date was October 15, 1976 when seven collectors, coming together after an auction, decided to meet and discuss the merits of forming a phonograph collector’s group. It was to be called The Central Michigan Antique Phonograph Society. Sensing that the name was geographically limiting, the name morphed first to The Great Lakes Antique Phonograph Society, then promptly to the Michigan Antique Phonograph Society (MAPS).


Of the original seven members – Al Parrish, Carlton Diefenthaler, Dr. Fred Garlock, Dave Abfalter, John Whitaker, Dale Monroe-Cook, and Russ Nuoffer, – John was selected “Chairman” and Editor of a newsletter for the new Society, which he titled In The Groove. The first issue (one page!) was promptly composed, mimeographed and sent to the other 6 members November 8th, 1976!


The Original MAPS members


The original MAPS members (clockwise from left): Al Parrish, Carlton Diefenthaler, Dr. Fred Garlock, Dave Abfalter, John Whitaker, Dale Monroe-Cook, and Russ Nuoffer


Meetings were monthly, held at member’s homes and, as the Society grew and attracted members from other communities. These meetings would range from Grand Rapids to Detroit. Dinner was provided by willing spouses. Business meetings would follow, then talking shop about anything and everything dealing with our hobby!


One important event prompted by the Society’s growth was the institution of an annual summer get-together:  Phonovention. The first one was held at Holiday Inn in Jackson, MI and was hosted by Arthur Miller.  Phonovention became an annual event, held in various locations around the state such as Clare, Dearborn, Owasso, Lansing, even out of state at Milan, OH (Edison’s birthplace) and Auburn, IN at the Victory Museum.  Phonovention was MAPS’s vehicle for expanded display and exhibition of machines, records and related “goodies”, as well as a great time of fellowship. The silent auction, swap meets and education sessions took root here, and many a member’s interest and knowledge was furthered at these Phonoventions!


While there are many MAPS members, early or later – too many to acknowledge here – who have contributed greatly to the success and growth of our Society, one name stands out among all: John Whitacre.  It was John who took up the challenge of organization at the beginning and, at the same time, shouldered the burden of producing an ever-expanding In The Groove – certainly the single most effective factor in the growth of the Society.  John set up the “Swap ‘n Shop”, a section devoted to selling/trading machines and supplies.  He invited knowledgeable collectors to share their experiences and know-how in the “Hints and Kinks” column. Under his direction, In The Groove became not only a successful,  promotional instrument,  it also proved to be a unifying one as well – bringing together collectors from across the country and, ultimately, around the world.  And during this growth our In The Groove has had dedicated editors:  John Whitacre (20 consecutive years), Phil and Eileen Stewart (well over ten consecutive years), Tim McCormick and Brantley Kuglar.


And how we grew! From the seven originators in 1976 to 80 members just two years later.  For some, this growth was seen as intrusive and in 1979 a motion was proposed to limit MAPS membership to 200. Fortunately, the motion was defeated and our Society continued its expansion, reaching over one thousand members eventually.  In 1992 we saw our first out-of-state “colony”, our Wisconsin Chapter. The success in Wisconsin prompted the initiation of chapters in other adjoining states, leading eventually to a total of nine chapters and a membership of over 800 world-wide.  Quite a ride!


Founders at 15th Anniversary

Original MAPS members at 15th Anniversary celebration.


As we grew, Chapter names identified the extent of MAPS’ outreach, too:  Old West Antique Phonograph Society, Carolina Antique Music and Phonograph Society, Kentucky Antique Phonograph Society, Hoosier Antique Phonograph Society, The Massachusetts Old Colony Antique Phonograph Society, The Oregon Territory Antique Phonograph Society, The Golden State Phonograph Society and the Wisconsin Illinois Musical and Phonograph Society. Without each Chapter’s active involvement and support, MAPS might never have flourished as it did!


At Phonovention 2009, held at the Victory Museum near Auburn, IN, MAPS President, Tim McCormick, brought together all the musicians, equipment and other logistics to produce a time capsule.  In the capsule are a cylinder recording and a CD recording of “The Phonovention Rag” as performed before an Edison Triumph cylinder machine.  This cylinder recording and a CD copy were placed in the capsule with a note from all attending that reads (effectively), “We believe that in the year 2109 those who recover this capsule will still be able to play the cylinder recording but that the CD recording will be so obsolete as to be unplayable.”  The capsule, now buried on the grounds of the Edison Birthplace in Milan, OH, will provide our descendants with an interesting view of the Michigan Antique Phonograph Society a century from now.


For many of us, while the advent of a new and greater “Antique Phonograph Society” is stimulating and full of promise, we want to take a moment to reflect upon and treasure the memories of, now, a bygone time – when MAPS blossomed, when you knew nearly everyone in the Club personally, when you looked forward to the dinner as much as the meeting, and when a sharp Victor III could be had for as little as $350.  That was MAPS 30-odd years ago.  What an amazing and rewarding journey this has been!



Part II



By Bob and Karyn Sitter


We had been collecting (should say buying) a few antique phonographs and related items since about 1981.  After a couple of years we had the extreme good fortune to meet Ken and Loyce Blazier through our good friend Tom Osborne.  Not long after, we were able to meet Elmer and Juanita Jones who had been collecting along with Ken and Loyce and others for a good many years.  Sometime in the later part of 1983 we received a postcard inviting us and seven other families to a meeting at Ken and Loyce’s home to discuss the possibility of forming an antique phonograph club.  It was determined at that meeting that there was enough interest to try and get some people that we all knew to participate.  John Woodward was a driving force at that meeting and subsequent meetings and we all knew that we had certainly reached a milestone in the formation of a new and exciting club.   After much discussion on a name, a vote was taken and the California Antique Phonograph Society was born.  Throughout the next few months and several more meetings, much work was done by each of the founding members and we just kind of knew that we had a good thing going.


Things just sort of grew and it was not long until we had enough people to finally have an organized meeting.   About 40 members got together at our first meeting on July 15, 1984 at the Mercury Savings and Loan in West Covina, CA.  In attendance were interested people from all over Southern California.  Officers were elected and we were off and running.  The Michigan Antique Phonograph Society had been established in Michigan some years prior but the CAPS founders had to just tread water on how to establish a group of people that had a common interest in recorded sound.  We continued on with hopes held high.




Our first newsletter, The Sound Box, was published Sept. 1984 and our first Show was held on August 25, 1985 at Griswolds Inn, Fullerton, CA.  The show was well attended and plans were made to continue this event every year. Locations changed throughout the years, finally coming to rest at the UFCW Hall in Buena Park, CA, where it continues to this day.  Once at the UFCW Hall, we added a formal banquet and ever popular speaker program, inviting the world’s most renowned experts to share their knowledge and enthusiasm.  For the next several years, the club continued to grow due to the dedicated efforts of many fine individuals, some of whom have since passed. We would like to mention many names, but not to slight anyone by omission, we will only say a heartfelt “Thank You” to all who did so much throughout the early years.  We all made many, many friends during these times which we are very happy to say continues even though we are now widely separated by distance.


The APS Show and Banquet each year continues to be the premier antique phonograph and record event.  The newsletter (written for many years on a typewriter) which started with many fine articles by knowledgeable people has evolved into the finest publication in our hobby, with articles of interest by nationally and internationally known collectors and archivists.


With the formation of the expanded Antique Phonograph Society, we can only conclude that the work of a few individuals 30 years ago for CAPS and longer for MAPS set the groundwork for a combined society that will continue to grow and prosper for the current and future members of this new informational and educational organization.


It seems like just yesterday that the founders had the crazy idea that there would be anyone interested in this rather unique and diverse hobby. Little did we know!


Our goal has always been to spread knowledge and share information with other enthusiasts, locally and throughout the world.  That goal is being achieved.  It is for all of us to continue to educate and promote the wonderful world of early sound recording for generations to follow.


We hope this article sheds a little light on the intense efforts that were put into the forming of a new society by a very dedicated group of individuals. It is written in spirit by all the founding members of the California Antique Phonograph Society.