Black Figure Phonograph Spindle Toy CopiedBy

Black Figure Phonograph Spindle Toy Copied

One of the accessories available for 1920s era phonographs was a phonograph dancer. A phonograph dancer was a toy or novelty item that attached to the spindle of the turntable. The turning spindle drove a mechanism making the figure rise, fall and turn as if "dancing". One of the most sought after phonograph dancers is one styled as a black minstrel. A new copy of this black dancer has been reproduced.

Like the original, the copy is made of jointed wood with painted decoration. The figure is supported on a single vertical rod above a wood platform which rests over the spindle. The platform is kept stationary by a weighted support arm which extends from the platform to beyond the spinning record.

The original 1920s version was sold by the National Toy Co. Other original black phonograph dancers included a female figure and boxers (fighters). Original white faced figures were also made including Uncle Sam. All original black figures can sell from $200 up; the new copies are priced at $65 each retail.

Paint on the new black minstrel dancer is very thin with a flat finish. On old black minstrel figures the paint is thicker enamel. Feet on the new figure have virtually no detail and look like blocks of unpainted wood. Feet on original black dancers are more realistically shaped and are almost always painted.


Fig. 1 New black minstrel phonograph dancer. Painted wood, 6" high.


Fig. 2 Feet on new black dancers are unpainted with virtually no detail. They look like blocks of wood.


Fig. 3 New figures show rough, jagged brush strokes in paint. Close up above shows bow tie and vest.