Wednesday, March 14, 2007


February 18, 1842 - April 18, 1894

Jesse H. Lippincott was a millionaire who had made his fortune from the glass industry.

He was born on 18 Feb 1842 in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania the son of Joseph Lippincott and Eliza Strickler. He died on April 18, 1894 in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He married twice, first to Mary Richardson () and secondly to Lily Richardson (). With his first wife he had at least two children.

Jesse H. Lippincott served in the Union Forces during the Civil War, as recorded: Jesse H. Lippincott, 28, B, Private, Transferred to Company H, 28th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers on April 29, 1864.

Lippincott was engaged in the glass making business. The Rochester Tumbler Company, which was the principle employer in Rochester, for 27 years, was organized in the spring of 1872. J H Lippincott was secretary and treasurer of the company as well as a director. At the peak of its success the company was making 150,000 tumblers a day and employed 1100 people. In 1899 it was taken over by the National Glass Company. On Feb 12, 1901, the entire factory was destroyed by fire.

Lippincott was associated with the Banner Baking Powder firm which became part of Nabisco (see the page on S S Marvin).

He was a director of the First National Bank of Rochester, in Beaver County. Jesse H Lippincott and P C Knox were directors of the Fifth National Bank of Pittsburgh, located at 16 Sixth Street, founded in 1871. And he was on the board of the Fifth National Bank of Pittsburgh along with another SFF&HC member: Jesse H. Lippincott, Geo. W. Huff, James C. Clark, John Lloyd, Richard Coulter.

In 1888, Jesse Lippincott for a million dollars took over the commercial exploitation of the Phonograph and the Graphophone (Alexander Bell’s invention) for a franchise of dictating machine companies. The North American Phonograph Company.

Edison’s laboratory, by 1887, had a workable prototype, based on a glass cylinder with a compound of steric acid, beeswax and ceresin as the recording medium. This attracted the interest of Jessie H. Lippincott, who was already in the glass business and saw an opportunity. Lippincott pulled off what Alexander Bell could not. After reaching an agreement between Gilliland, Bell and Tainter, Lippincott formed the North American Phonograph Company on March 29, 1888. In the process, he put the rivalry between Edison and Bell on the back burner, along with any patent issues.

MinutesOF THEThe North American Phonograph Company

CERTIFICATE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY. RECEIVED in the office of the Clerk of the County of Hudson on the 14th day of July, A.D. 1888 at 12 o'clock M., and recorded in Book 8 of Clerk's Records for said County, page 229, (Signed) Dennis McLaughlin, Clerk. Filed July 16, 1888.(Signed) Henry C. Kelsey, Sec'y of State.


THIS IS TO CERTIFY that we, Jesse H. Lippincott, Thomas R. Lombard, George S. Evans, George H. Fitzwilson and John Robinson do hereby associate ourselves into a company under and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the Legislature of New Jersey, entitled "An Act concerning corporations" approved April 7, 1875, and the several supplements thereto, for the purposes hereinafter mentioned, and to that end we do by this, our certificate set forth:

FIRST -- That the name which we have assumed to designate such Company, and to be used in its business and dealings, is THE NORTH AMERICAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY.

SECOND -- That the place in this State where the business of such Company is to be conducted is the City of Jersey City in the County of Hudson.

THE PRINCIPAL part of the business of said Company within this State is to be transacted in the said City of Jersey City in the County of Hudson, which is to be the principal place of business of said Company, and the place where its principal office is to be located. And the places out of this State where the same is to be conducted are the City of New York in the State of New York, and elsewhere throughout the United States and Canada.

AND THAT the objects for which the Company is formed are to manufacture, trade in, buy, sell, rent, lease and otherwise acquire, hold and dispose of Phonographs, Phonograph-Graphophones and Instruments of every other kind or description designed, made or used for, intended for the recording and reproducing of sounds and any or either of them or any part thereof and any and all supplies, appliances, materials and articles now used or required and that may be hereafter used or required in the manufacture, use or operation of said Phonographs, Phonograph-Graphophones and instruments and any and either of them and also for the purpose of renting, leasing, selling or otherwise disposing of to other firms, persons or corporations, the right or rights to manufacture, trade in, buy, sell, rent, lease or otherwise dispose of said Phonographs, Phonograph-Graphophones or Instruments or either of them or any part thereof or of the right to use the same either generally or in any specified State, locality or territory or in any general or limited manner; and also for the purpose of acquiring, receiving, owning and controlling by lease, rental, purchase, invention or otherwise any patent, patents, applications for patents, contracts devices, designs, instruments and formulas or any or either of them, relating to the art or science of recording and reproducing sound and for the purpose of purchasing materials therefore and any other purposes incidental to the business, trading and manufacturing aforesaid.

THE PORTION of the business of said Company which is to be carried on out of this state is the manufacture, trading in, buying, selling, renting, leasing and otherwise acquiring and disposing of the Phonographs, Phonograph-Graphophones and Instruments above described, and the supplies, appliances articles and materials, as above specified so far as the business of said Company may require, and the renting, leasing, selling or otherwise disposing of rights as above specified and other business incidental to the business of the Company which must necessarily be transacted outside of this State.

THIRD -- That the total amount of the capital stock of said Company is SIX MILLION, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS; the number of shares into which the same is divided is SIXTY SIX THOUSAND; and the par value of each share is ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. The amount with which the said Company will commence business is FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, which is divided into FOUR HUNDRED SHARES of a par value of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS each.

FOURTH -- The names and residences of the stockholders and the number of shares held by each are as follows, to wit:

Jesse H. Lippincott, New York City, Eighty (80) Shares.Thomas R. Lombard, New York City, Eighty (80) Shares.George S. Evans, New York City, Eighty (80) Shares.George H. Fitzwilson, New York City, Eighty (80) Shares.John Robinson, New York City, Eighty (80) Shares.

FIFTH -- The period at which said Company shall commence is the Fourteenth day of July, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, and the period at which is shall terminate is the First day of May, A.D. one thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight.

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Businessman Jesse H. Lippincott assumed control of the phonograph companies by becoming sole licensee of the American Graphophone Company and by purchasing the Edison Phonograph Company from Edison. In an arrangement which eventually included most other phonograph makers as well, he formed the North American Phonograph Company on July 14, 1888. Lippincott saw the potential use of the phonograph only in the business field and leased the phonographs as office dictating machines to various member companies which each had its own sales territory. Unfortunately, this business did not prove to be very profitable, receiving significant opposition from stenographers.Meanwhile, the Edison Factory produced talking dolls in 1890 for the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Co. The dolls contained tiny wax cylinders. Edison's relationship with the company ended in March of 1891, and the dolls are very rare today. The Edison Phonograph Works also produced musical cylinders for coin-slot phonographs which some of the subsidiary companies had started to use. These proto-"jukeboxes" were a development which pointed to the future of phonographs as entertainment machines.In the fall of 1890, Lippincott fell ill and lost control of the North American Phonograph Co. to Edison, who was its principal creditor. Edison changed the policy of rentals to outright sales of the machines, but changed little else.Edison increased the entertainment offerings on his cylinders, which by 1892 were made of a wax known among collectors today as "brown wax." Although called by this name, the cylinders could range in color from off-white to light tan to dark brown. An announcement at the beginning of the cylinder would typically indicate the title, artist, and company. Advertisement for the Edison New Standard Phonograph, in Harper's, September 1898.In 1894, Edison declared bankruptcy for the North American Phonograph Company, a move that enabled him to buy back the rights to his invention. It took two years for the bankruptcy affairs to be settled before Edison could move ahead with marketing his invention. The Edison Spring Motor Phonograph appeared in 1895, even though technically Edison was not allowed to sell phonographs at this time because of the bankruptcy agreement. In January 1896, he started the National Phonograph Company which would manufacture phonographs for home entertainment use. Within three years, branches of the company were located in Europe. Under the aegis of the company, he announced the Spring Motor Phonograph in 1896, followed by the Edison Home Phonograph, and he began the commercial issue of cylinders under the new company's label. A year later, the Edison Standard Phonograph was manufactured, and then exhibited in the press in 1898. This was the first phonograph to carry the Edison trademark design. Prices for the phonographs had significantly diminished from its early days of $150 (in 1891) down to $20 for the Standard model and $7.50 for a model known as the Gem, introduced in 1899.

Source: Scripophily .com (note that his signature is on the stock certificate showing clearly that the last name is spelled with an I not an E although it appears both ways in contemporary works).

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Lipwak said...

Fascinating to read all this. I am related to him. My grandfather took over Lippincott glass in 1918 or 1919 but didn't stay long leaving to be a NY banker in 1924 or 1925. I knew of Jesse, the glass factory (we had a few green glasses) and his interest in the phonograph but am not sure how he is related to us. It's especially interesting as I am a big music fan and still have many records, so having a relative involved in the beginnings of that business is pretty cool.

I'd love to find out more, especially how we are related.

Thank you very much.

John L

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David Hurst said...

Hey, John. I'm doing research on Jesse Lippincott and am wondering if you ever were able to figure out if u had ties to him. Feel free to email me at