ARTY GB (1) copy Zwarteschijf

Various Parts

Ken Priestley

Leather cloth

F R Ratchford J Hewitt


Meadows and Passmore






The cases of all the portable gramophones I have collected have been patterned in someway to enhance their appearance.  By patterning I am referring to the geometric indented design that adorns the top and bottom of the case and sometimes, to a greater or lesser extent the sides too.  In most instances the top and bottom of gramophone cases I've found to have been made from a material known as Essex board, a lightweight but strong compressed cardboard and plywood.  How the original pattern was applied I know not but it looks to have been pressed into the covered surface using some kind of die, probably before being assembled.  If looked after the case and its patterning can remain in good condition.  However often gramophones have found their way into the hostile environments of lofts and outhouses where not only knocks and bangs take their toll but also heat and sometimes damp.  Ultimately a case can therefore need re-covering and an aspect of this process may necessitate the reinstatement of the patterning, particularly where damp may have caused the pattern to lift.


Whilst it's obviously possible to re-cover a case without reinstating the pattern I prefer to get the case back to something like its original appearance and so have experimented with the few cases I have recovered and have used 2 processes which are shown in the photograph panels below.

Case Patterning

The Subtractive Method


The first method I tried was re-cutting the pattern.  Many patterns, though, have a fine line inside the outer one and this I decided to omit.  Maybe on a future restoration I may try a wood carvers or wood engravers gouge.  It is important to coat the groove with a thinned down 70/30 PVA/water mixer.  This seals the bottom of the groove which will have been "roughed up" a little in re-cutting and flattens its surface.  If possible try to remove one clean layer of the Essex board. Also coat the whole of the top with the PVA/water mix, in fact coat the whole case before re-covering to stabilise any remnants of the original covers underside still adhering to the case.

The Additive Method


This was a method I tried for the first time on the Columbia 204E.  Basically it meant cutting the pattern out of a sheet of 350gsm card (this indicates the thickness of the card.  The bigger the number, the thicker the card) in order to form a "stencil" type design in which the elements remained joined to each other while glued into place.  Finally the "joins" were cut away leaving the pattern.  It's better explained by looking at the photos.  As with the previous method the top was sealed with a thinned PVA solution first and allowed to dry.  The edges of the applied card were then "feathered" into the rounded corners of the case.  Warning:  Although I used PVA for fixing the card, being water based it will be absorbed by the card and can distort it making it impossible to get the linework straight.  Either use the PVA undiluted and sparingly or use photographers spray mount.  This is usually available as permament or one that allows repositioning.  Use the permanent one but be sure the alignment is correct before allowing contact with the top of the lid as it cannot be repositioned.)