About Richards Laboratories

Richards Laboratories produces brand new high quality brown wax recording blanks for use on an Edison cylinder phonograph. These blanks offer superior quality, extremely low surface noise, and they make loud, clear recordings. These Edison cylinder blanks are offered in an extra-length version to maximize recording time. Each recording blank is produced under strict production controls to achieve the highest possible quality. Each recording blank is individually documented and tested to assure the best possible recording and playback results. If you are looking for the top quality Edison cylinder blank made in the USA, Richards Laboratories is the source.

The research for this project began in 1978. Many long evenings were spent in the patent records department at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin public library. From the information found there, the project gained momentum.

By 1982, an original Edison cylinder mold had been measured and copied. Also during 1982, an interesting textbook was discovered that had more information about the brown wax formula.

Around that same time the Dictaphone electric-motor driven shaving machine from 1923 was purchased, along with some black Ediphone dictation blanks. Also, during the early 1980s, two original Edison "home" recorders were purchased and rebuilt.

From the mid-1980s until 2009, experience was gained using the shaved-down dictation blanks to make recordings.

In 2009, the mold cylinder was finally finish-bored, and the wax formula from the old textbook was used for the first time to make a batch of brown wax.

Many experiments and tests have been carried out since the first summer 2009 making blanks. This is a seasonal production, they are made from May 15th, through September 30th. Approximately 50 per year are made.

Research, testing, and experimentation is ongoing. 

Production List

Year Blanks Made (serial numbers) Total


M1 through M47 47
2010 M48 through M102 55
2011 M103 through M145 43
2012 M146 through M211 66
2013 M212 through M268 57
2014 M269 through M326 58
2015 M327 through M367 41
2016 M368 through M381 14

2016 was a sabbatical year for making brown wax blanks. A Scrap Run of 13 blanks was made from all available scrap wax.Those blanks are serial numbers M368-SR3B1, through M380-SR321B13. After using all available scrap, one straight-run wax batch was made, and blank M381 was cast from it.

These blanks will continue to be made in future years. Production quantities are extremely limited, due the sheer amount of work involved. It is my hope that eventually readers of this website shall use the information posted here, and start making blanks of their own. This entire project is devoted to documenting some of the techniques I have found, which produce superior quality cylinders.

It is far more than one person can accomplish alone. The market is wide open. If you are interested and willing to work, you can pick up and learn for yourself, using this website as a guide. 

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