Vinyl Record

Wire and Steel Band Recordings

Between 1898 and 1900 Danish engineer Valdemar Poulsen patented the `Telegraphone’  first demonstrating the machine in 1899 as a dictation and telephone message machine.  Within a few years Poulsen also demonstrated the steel tape recorder.  This type of recorder remained in use up to the 1960’s as a recording medium.  The sonic information was stored on a thin wire or flat steel band.

Wire and steel band recordings are extremely prone to rusting from excessive moisture in the air.  Storage conditions should therefore be kept at a relatively low RH.  The recordings should also be kept well away from heat sources such as radiators and away from all magnetic sources.  As this type of recording breaks easily during playback re-recording should be left to an expert.  There are many different types of wire and steel band recorders and the playback equipment is not always easily available.

RISKS  The main enemy of wire and steel band recordings is moisture which causes rusting.  Magnetism and heat will also damage the recording.  The thinner wire recordings are also prone to break during playback.  Some of the recorders operate at a very high speed and if the recording breaks during playback they are essentially band-saws.  Print-through can also be a problem.  Wire recordings are also prone to tangles and snarls which lead to the recording breaking easily.

CONSERVATION PRACTICE  The sonic content of the recordings should be transferred to a more suitable medium as soon as possible.

HANDLING  Always wear cotton or latex gloves  to handle the recordings so as not to transfer grease from the fingers onto the recording.

STORAGE  Store the recordings in dust free, acid-free containers and above all keep the wire or steel band dry ie. 40-50% RH

Wire Recordings

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