Cylinder of the Month

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A very early comic duolouge from 1890-1891, performed by Mrs. McCormick, entitled An Irishman's Perplexity.

An Irishman's Perplexity
Company New Jersey Phonograph Company (?)
Cylinder # unknown
Category Specialty (comic duolouge)
Title An Irishman's Perplexity
Performed by Mrs. McCormick
Circa 1890-1891
Announcement "The following piece provided by Mrs. McCormick entitled 'An Irishman's Perplexity."

Enjoy this month's mysterious early wax cylinder recording performed by "Mrs. McCormick".   Based on its look, announcement, and the recording's sound qualities, this record has all the hallmarks of an early commercial recording from 1890.   Unfortunately, there are very few extant record company catalogs from this period, and I have found no clues about the performer, Mrs. McCormick.   However, it does contain two distinct features of the earliest commercial recordings: it was recorded on a "cuff"-sized cylinder blank which was seen primarily circa 1890 (3-5/8" long vs. 4-1/8" for standard length cylinders), and it contains an individual announcement (where each wax blank was individually given an announcement one at a time prior to the performance).

The recording was adapted from a contemporay comic bit by the same name:


Pat Murphy had been on a fishing excursion, and after returning to land, met one of his friends, who inquired of him what luck he had.

"Oh," he replied, "we had a most illigant time."

"Who were of your party?" asked his friend.

"There wur five of us," was his answer. "There was mesilf, one; two Scrogginses, two; Terry Toole, three; Jim Kasin, four.

"But there wur five of us, anyhow. Let—me—see. There wur Jim Kasin, one; an' Terry Toole, two; an' mesilf, three; an' the two Scrogginses, four.

"Faith! an' it's strange that I can't remember the fifth man! Now then—there's mesilf, that's one; Jim Kasin, that's two ; an' the two Scrogginses, that's three; an' Terry Toole, do ye see, that's four; an'—an' may St. Patrick fly away with me if I can find the fifth man at all, at all!"

One Hundred Choice Selections, No. 26. Philadelphia: P. Garrett & Co. 1886, 1893. p. 90.

To hear An Irishman's Perplexity  

For help playing these sounds, click here.

Many thanks to Gregory Thymus and David Winter for their assistance with this recording.

To learn more:

— This cylinder of the month is from the collection of  The Library of Congress —


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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