Recording Pioneers

John Daniel SMOOT  ("Dan")1873 - 1964   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


John Daniel SMOOT  ("Dan")1873 - 1964

aka John D. Smoot, J. D. Smoot, J. Smoot, John Smoot, Dan Smoot, D. Smoot
birth 27 Nov 1873, Annandale, Fairfax, VIRGINIA
death 9 Feb 1964, Washington DC
marriage married on 24 Aug 1895 in Baltimore:

b. ..... 1875 or .. June/July 1876, Baltimore, Maryland, CA
d. 30 Apr 1962, Washington DC

  • John Henry ("Harry")

    b. 1 June 1896, Philadelphia City, Philadelphia, PA
    d. 23 March 1976, Pompano Beach, Broward, FL


father William Henry SMOOT

b. 11 Apr 1845, Washington DC
d. 1 Dec 1885, Washington DC

mother Lavinia/Lavania O'BRIEN

b. .... <1847>, Baltimore, Maryland
d. ............

marriage they got married in 1869
  • John Daniel

    b. 27 Nov 1873, Annandale, Fairfax, VIRGINIA
    d. 9 Feb 1964, Washington DC


In Dec. 1912 residence: Wien (Vienna) Hamburg Passenger Lists
returns USA on 15 April 1917 and arrives 30 April

John Daniel (“Dan”) Smoot was born on 27 November 1873 in Annandale, Fairfax, Virginia.
He was the son of William Henry Smoot, a grocery clerk, and Lavania O'Brien.
From 31 January 1893 to 30 January 1896 he served in the National Guard (District of Columbia), and attained the rank of corporal.

In 1895 he married Emily Kenrick or Kendrick in Baltimore, Maryland.

From 1895 onwards he worked for the Berliner Gramophone Company in Philadelphia (in: Talking Machine News & Cinematograph Chronicle of July 1904, p. 87)
This is confirmed by Ronald Gelatt in his book The Fabulous Phonograph, p. 123:

Each member of this trio [Smoot/Gloetzner/Pancoast] had been employed previously by Berliner or Johnson and was thus initiated in the "secrets" of the wax recording process".

(Gelatt mentions J. D. Smoot in the Foreword/preface to The Fabulous Phonograph)

On 1 June 1896 their only son John Henry ("Harry") Smoot was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Smoot may already have been in England by September 1900 (or 1899).
Frederick Marion Prescott, accompanied by Orville La Dow, sailed for Southampton, England, on the 22nd March 1899 - on a tour to promote the 'Gramophone'. FMP was scheduled to visit London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and St. Petersburg.
Prescott and La Dow were accompanied by a recording expert [Dan Smoot? Joseph W. Jones?] for the purpose of making foreign recordings for the export business of the 'Gramophone' for which he had secured the sole export agency. F. Prescott and Orville La Dow arrived back in New York on 11th May 1899, having visited England, France and Germany.....[source: The Zonophone Record by Ernie Bayly/Kinnear, p. 6-7]
What is the direct source of this piece of information?

The names of Prescott, Ladow, Smoot or Joseph W. Jones do not occur on the 1899 ELLIS ISLAND passenger lists.
They may have entered the USA via other seaports, like Boston or Baltimore.

Joseph W. Jones (From Tinfoil to Stereo by Read & Welch, p. 142; ....... by Taylor & Cleary, p. 308)

In "Joe Batten's Book, The Story of Sound Recording" (p. 32-33) Joe Batten writes:

The gramophone, or rather, the talking machine or phonograph as it was then called, had divested itself of its swaddling clothes, but had not yet outgrown the stridency of its infancy. Serious musicians regarded it with contempt. The sale of instruments and records was restricted to small shops in side streets, mostly bicycle shops, where the phonographs, cylinders, discs and needles jumbled alongside spare wheels, pumps, tins of oil, repair outfits and Welsbach incandescent gas mantles.
Music shops, patrician and plebeian, refused to recognise the upstart. Many years were to elapse before the leading gramophone companies were able to induce them to shed their prejudice.
It was in these circumstances that I entered upon what was to become the absorbing interest of my life.
One sultry morning in September, 1900, I walked to Hatton Garden and amongst its shabby offices found a door with a name-plate: THE MUSIPHONE COMPANY; recording room. Nowadays it would have been called a studio; then the recording companies had not achieved the dignity of this designation. Musiphone, in after years, was to change its name and become of standing as manufacturers of the well-known ODEON record; then it was one of the innumerable small recording companies scattered about Hatton Garden and the City Road. Knocking on the door and receiving no reply, I turned the handle and walked into the office, which was also the recording room. Here I was met by a verbose and blustering individual who demanded my business. This having been satisfactorily explained, the loquacious one introduced himself as Dan Smoot. He was an American, the first I had met. I do not remember whether he expertorated into a spittoon, as all Americans were expected to do in those days, but I vividly recall his strange speech, his odd stressing of syllables, and his quaint expressions. I was fascinated. Dan said he was not in London for his health, but to make cylinder records [Smoot recording cylinders? - HS], and it was time to get going. I now had had time to take in my surroundings and I was dismayed. Most of the space of the room, the scene of my day's work, was occupied by an improvised rostrum, five feet high, upon which an upright grand piano had been hoisted to enable its soundboard to be on a level with the recording horn. The back and front of the piano had been removed, so that the maximum of sound could be obtained, thus leaving only the action and soundboard. There was no music stand, the music being held up by anybody who had nothing else to do at the time. I had to climb four high wooden steps to reach the piano, which brought my head to within a few inches of the ceiling. The singer, an arm resting on the piano, stood within a few inches of a recording horn which measured five inches in diameter, in such a position that I could not see him. In this fantastic setting and throughout the sultry heat of the day A. H. Gee and Montague Borwell, baritone and tenor alternated in singing "Come into the garden, Maud", "The Diver" and "The Soldiers of the Queen". Precariously perched on a stool on the rostrum, coat discarded, perspiring profusely, I hammered out the accompaniments.
Dan Smoot had demanded of me to make the tone "double forte" and double forte it was. From time to time the singers whispered appeals to "keep it down". If, appalled myself at the din I was making, I did so, Dan Smoot would clamber up the rostrum with the agility of a monkey and fiercely command: "Take no notice. Keep it loud. You're doing fine." I could not judge. My brain, usually cool, detached and critical of what my hands were doing rattled off the accompaniments like an automaton. At the end of the day I was paid fifteen shillings for my six hours work. I was asked to come again the next day, so the presumption was that I had given satisfaction.

However, Dan Smoot's name does not occur on any of the 1900 ELLIS ISLAND passenger lists.
So, Joe Batten's detailed account , although it makes a very accurate impression, cannot be verified...
(in: Joe Batten's Book, the Story of Sound Recording by Joseph Batten (Rockliffe Publishing Corporation, London 1956): also quoted in EMI, the first hundred years, p. 95)
Frank Andrews made an attempt to trace THE MUSIPHONE COMPANY, but without result.

On 2 May 1901 John D. Smoot (“machinist”), living in Philadelphia, applied to the Department of State at Washington for a passport.
He received a passport that same day under No. 40333.

In May 1901 Smoot sailed for Europe together with Prescott, Gloetzner and Pancoast.
Zonophone established in Berlin.

On the UK Incoming Passenger lists we find arriving on 16 May 1901 at Liverpool, England on board the SS 'New England" from Boston:
F. M. Prescott
Mrs. Prescott
Alfred (=Frederick) Prescott (infant)
E. A. Pancoast
Mrs. Pancoast
Mary Pancoast (infant)
John Smoot
Raymond Glotzner

I have serious doubts about the correctness of the UK arrival date (16 May 1901), the name of ship (SS "NEW ENGLAND") and the port of departure (Boston).
I suspect three different passenger lists of three different UK arrivals (Boston, Philadelphia and a third list) were accidentally bundled together and presented as representing one single voyage:
(1) The Prescott party certainly did not travel on board of the SS "New England".
On the basis of information in the Boston Evening Transcript about departures of ocean steamers from Boston between 2 and 22 May 1901, it is clear that no ship by the name of SS "NEW ENGLAND" left Boston harbor before 22 May 1901. Both the Boston Evening Transcript and the Boston Daily Globe announce the departure of the SS "NEW ENGLAND" from Boston Harbor on 22 May 1901.
(2) Boston seems an unlikely port of departure.
(3) The so-called "Boston passenger list" shows three distinct types of handwriting.
It looks as if we have 3 different passenger lists:
- one set of papers for an arrival from Boston (SS "NEW ENGLAND)
- another set (pages 1 and 2 are missing) for an arrival from Philadelphia (ship's name unknown)
- a third passenger list (again ship's name unknown) where the point of embarkation has not been indicated (possibly New York) and of which the first 5 pages are missing.
(for this type of documents the first page is always crucial since it lists the name of the ship and the port of departure.)
If we examine the handwriting on the third (Prescott/Pancoast/Smoot/Glotzner) passenger list, there is only one conclusion possible: the reproduced passenger list is incomplete: pages 1-5 are missing (no images) and we have only images of pages 6-16 (images #19 and #25-34). All pages are undated and the point of embarkation has not been indicated on any of the shown pages.

ethnicity: USA citizen
profession: engineer
date of departure: ca. May 1901
port of departure: .............. (USA)
ship's name: SS ..............
date of arrival: ca. May 1901 (GERMANY)
age on arrival: ca. 28y
place of residence: Washington DC ?

On page 180 of the Fred Gaisberg Diaries Part 6 (in: Talking Machine Review) we find the following entry:
Berlin, Friday 3 July, 1901:

After a cup of coffee in a fine Cafe "Unter den Linden", I drove to Ritter Strasse. where I met Theodore Birnbaum. After a talk with him I visited Prescott's place, 72 Ritter Str., where I met Dan Smoot and Fred Prescott.

Theodore Birnbaum
Address Zonophone: 71 Ritterstrasse, Berlin
63 Ritterstrasse, Berlin

On the basis of the following letters we can conclude that John Daniel Smoot recorded for Zonophone in Paris in late 1902 and was still in Paris by 5 December 1902...

On 20 November 1902 Arthur Clark wrote a letter (signed by the Administrateur Délégué of the Compagnie Française du Gramophone in Paris) to W. Barry Owen in London:

I find that the Zonophone people have made an arrangement with the firm of C.&.J. Ullmann of Paris for the representation of the Zonophone in France.
At the present time Prescott's recorders are at work making records here.
They approach the very best people, and have succeeded in getting a number of them.
Prescott could not have placed his business in better hands, as Ullmann's House is about like Thibouville-Lamy & Co., which I think you know.
They have all the money necessary to push the business, and are splendid businessmen, having an established trade throughout France.
They seem to be paying good Artistes almost any price, and as I have heard some of the late records taken by Prescott's people both in London and in Paris, I am prepared to believe that now we will be up against interesting competition for the first time.

It is interesting to note that Clark writes "Prescott's recorders", implying that more than one ZONOPHONE recorder was at work in Paris at the same time.

Letter [Wednesday] 3 December 1902 from Alfred Clark (Cie. Française du Gramophone (Paris)) to William Barry Owen (London):

............... I might add that Mr. Delmas has already sung for the ZONOPHONE people, as have also one or two other great artistes who have not so far sung for us, including Madame Ackté, the First Soprano at the Opera.

Artist(s) 7-inch 10-inch
Aino Ackté (soprano) - X 1998-2000
Augustarello Affre (tenor) - X 2017-2019
Jean François Delmas (baritone) - X 2021-2025
Augustarello Affre (tenor) 11640 X 2026-2027
Emma Calvé (soprano) - X 2033
Felix Mayol 11653-11663 -
Mimi Pinson Chorus 11819 X 2091 (B/K) or 2092 (Zw)
Rose Caron 11823 X 2094-2096
Rosalia Lambrecht 11824-11832 X 2097
Leon Melchissédec 11853 X 2060/2109

(Zwarg says Mayol was recorded between September and December)

11504-12283 Paris/Bruxelles/Madrid (ca 780 recordings)

On Friday 5 December 1902 Alfred Clark of the Cie. Française du Gramophone in Paris wrote to William Barry Owen in London:

Dear Mr. Owen,
Your telegram regarding [Jean François] Delmas reached us last night, and we have this morning made an appointment with Mr. Delmas to sing for us on Tuesday next [9 December 1902]. While on the subject I should say that I have had two very interesting visits today.
One was from Dan Smoot who is here making records for the Zonophone people. Dan tells me, and this has been confirmed this morning also by several of the musicians of the band which was playing here, that they have taken records of [Emma] Calvé, [Jean François] Delmas, [Augustarello] Affre the tenor, and Madame [Aino] Ackté the soprano at the opera. They [=the Zonophone people] have apparently been spending money very freely. I therefore hope that after having read my letter you will authorise me to make some arrangement with Madame [Aino] Ackté also, as we certainly in this business of specially good Artistes should not be behind the Zonophone.

From this can be concluded that Dan Smoot was still in Paris by 5 December 1902.....

Handwritten remark added to typewritten letter [Monday] 8 December 1902 from Alfred Clark (Cie. Française du Gramophone (Paris)) to William Barry Owen (London):

Ackté has just agreed to sing for 2000 francs three songs. This is what the ZONOPHONE paid her.

Letter of 23 April 1904 from Hermann Schwabe (INTERNATIONAL ZONOPHONE COMPANY, Filiale Berlin) to Th. B. Birnbaum (The Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd. London):

Enclosed I hand you ....... and, by order of Messrs Cooper & Cooper: a detailed analysis of the amount charged to Recording Account during the 6 months ending 31st December amounting to M. 6337,87.

[ZONOPHONE] Recording Expenses July-December 1903

Juli 1. für an Ant. Sattler gegebene Waren 15.-

,, 18. Spesen des Hans Glötzner für in Jassy
gemachte rumänische Aufnahmen 988.90

,, 18. Zahlung a/O. Grünberg, Jassy, für Aufnahme-
spesen 101.65

Aug. 12. für im Mai an Mr. Smoot gemachte Zahlung
von Nicole Frères, London 24.17

Sept. 23. für von Grünberg bezahlte rumänische
Aufnahmen 1179.55

,, 30. Spesen des Ed. Pancoast für brasilianische
Aufnahmen in Rio de Janeiro 546.66

,, 30. Salair a/Mr. Pancoast vom 27/6. bis 3. Oct. 3234.-

Oct. 1. für in Amsterdam verauslagte Fracht- & Zoll-
spesen a/Wachsplatten laut Angabe von Mr.
Moorhouse 133.27

Dec. 8. für von H. & J. Blumenthal Frères im Juni
verauslagte Spesen in Constantinopel 85.-

,, 19. für im Juni an Ant. Sattler gegebene Waren 93.-

M 6401.20

Hiervon geht ab:

Oct. 1. von Blieck, Amsterdam, erhaltener Betrag
laut Angabe von Mr. Moorhouse 63.33

M 6337.87

In May or June 1904 Dan Smoot was recording in London (Talking Machine News & Cinematograph Chronicle of July 1904, p. 87)

A Professional Record Maker on his Experiences; a talk with Mr. J. D. Smoot.
- "Needless to ask - you hail from the States?" said I, to Mr. Smoot.
"That is so; from Washington, where, by-the-way, pretty well all the talking machine people come from. I have been at it since '95; started with the original Berliner Gramophone Company in Philadelphia. That was in the days of the old etched disc record. Was trained under Mr. C. G. Child, who has charge of the record department of the Victor Phone Company, formerly known as the Gramophone Company. Spent some time in the experimental laboratory of Mr. Eldridge R. Johnson, now President of the Victor Phone Company. Have taken records in St. Petersburg, Milan, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and London. Left the States with Mr. F. M. Prescott and several record makers in 1901 to establish a disc business in Europe, and started in Berlin as the International Zonophone Company. Remained with the company two years; then went to the International Talking Machine Company, the company which makes the ODEON double-sided records. And here I am in London making records for them now."
"Am I staying over here? No, I expect to have soon finished our new repertoire, and shall then be off to the Continent again. Amongst the stars I am recording at the present time are Geo. Robey, Ben Albert, Harry Randall, Charles Coborn, Florence Esdaile, Happy Fanny Fields, Louis Bradfield, Albert McKelvin and Ruth Lincoln."
- "How does the British artiste compare, from your point of view, with the Continental one?"
"I have had some tough times with Italian and Russian artistes. Magnificent voices, splendid bands; but "the artistic temperament" of the performers, well, that has given me some trouble now and again. A laughable outcome of the artistic temperament once happened whilst I was recording at Milan. It was the famous Banda Municipale, and the leader, a highly excitable Neapolitan - an artist to his finger tips - had perched himself on the head of an empty barrel. In a fortissimo passage, when more excited than usual, he stamped rather hard on the barrel head, with the result - he disappeared inside it! Of course, the record was spoiled, and so for fully an hour was any further attempt at making one. It took all that time to tire them of laughing at the incident."
"Musical education has been carried to such a pitch abroad that it has become instinctive. The ear of the Italian for music is probably the acutest in the world. If the singing becomes flat, even to the faintest shade, quite imperceptible to the ordinary ear, it is detected at once. I remember once, when taking a record, the singer became a shade flat, whereupon a little chap who was shaving records jumped to his feet and shouted 'Basta! Basta!’."
For the Russian artistes, too, Mr. Smoot had nothing but the highest praise, though here again the personal equation made matters a little difficult at times. Eminent artistes sometimes came with the idea that they knew the technique of record making very much better than the record maker, even though they had had no previous experience whatsoever. Others would interject enquiries whilst the record was in progress, as: "Is that alright?" or "Is that long enough?"
- "And how many British records have you made this time up to the present?"
"About three hundred; I expect to make from five to six hundred more. By-the-way, it is a curious fact, which will probably interest your readers, that our record of Ian Colquhoun in "The Soldiers of the Queen" sells even better on the Continent than it does in this country. We received a letter from Holland, only the other day, asking for more of this record, both large and small."
- "What of machines; are there to be any new departures in that direction?"
"We are going to bring out a machine with a revolving trumpet; of other departures I may not speak at present."
- "Any interesting happenings, on your journeyings, of any kind?"
"Plenty of them; the difficulty is to call them up when they are wanted. But stay, I can tell you one. Travelling from Milan to Berlin, an evidently distinguished operatic or theatrical artiste with her retinue joined us en route. We had hardly passed the German frontier when the gas supply, which lighted the train, gave out. The artiste, however, came to the rescue with a supply of French night-lights. And then I learned that it was Mme. Sarah Bernhardt who had come to the rescue."

Calvin Goddard Child (Tinfoil, p. 54 has incorrectly "Childs")
born on 27 August 1862 in Norwich, Connecticut, USA
Ohio Phonograph Co - Columbia Phonograph Co. - recording director Victor Talking Machine Co. from 1919 to 1924
Director VICTOR from 1925-1928
Died on 4 June 1943, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, USA

* 1905 in Turkey ?

On 13 February 1906 a passport (No. 182) was issued to John D. Smoot in London (not available) as is stated on passport No. 17996 of 7 July 1906.

In the Phonographische Zeitschrift of 17 May 1906 (7/20/440 or 443):

Bei dem technischen Personal dieser Firma [Die International Talking Machine Co., Weissensee] sind insoweit Änderungen eingetreten, als der bisher in der Londoner Filiale beschäftigte Experte Mr. [Dan] Smoot in die hiesige Fabrik übernommen ist, während dessen Stelle Mr. [Arthur H.] Brooks, bisher Techniker der Firma Nicole Frères in London, übernommen hat.
Für die Erweiterung des Deutschen Repertoirs hat die Firma den in den ersten Künstlerkreisen wohlbekannten Impresario Herrn Ajo Wiese gewonnen.

In A Fonotipia Fragmentia Frank Andrews states the following (The Talking Machine Review No. 41. August 1976, p. 743/753 or AFF, p. 17):

At this time [mid-1906] Odeon and Fonotipia records were being recorded by seven different engineers.

However, he does not mention their names.
(1) Dan Smoot
(2) Raymond Gloetzner
(3) Hans Gloetzner
(4) Edwin Pancoast(?)
(5) Arthur H. Brooks
(6) Goldstein
(7) Cabrera
Cabrera signed on in 18 March 1907, but was already employed by Odeon in 1905

Prescott's chief expert, Daniel Smoot, had left London for Berlin, and Arthur H. Brooks took over Hamsell Street.

1906 in Turkey

From: "The Talking Machine News" of June 1906, p. 183

Recording in the home of the unspeakable Turk - A Talk with Mr. Smoot, of the Odeon Co.
What money the wily Turk has to spare from the exactions of corrupt and extortionate Government officials, he spends a good lot of it on talking machines, judging by the fact that there is good and extensive trade done in talking machines in the Orient.
Mr. Smoot, who is being transferred from London to Berlin to look after the recording department of the Odeon Co. there, has just returned from a three months' visit to the land of the Golden Horn, visiting, inter alia, Servia, the land of changing dynasties, and Varna, the principal port of the peasant kingdom of Bulgaria, in his itinerary.
He has had, as may be expected, a somewhat varied experience in these out-of-the-way by-paths of travel, and some of the latter are very interesting in relation to talking machine matters, especially at Constantinople.
I recently had a brief chat with him on these matters at the London headquarters of the Odeon Co. in Hamsell Street, and it certainly seems to be an instance of the world-wide popularity of the talking machine trade to hear him tell of them.
His Company, he told me, did a big trade in the Orient, and his recent visit was for the purpose of making records, more particularly for the local market. In Turkey, he said in particular, there were no music or concert halls, but the Turk was fond of his own particular brand of music. Following the plan in vogue in our own country a century or so ago, the Turkish chanter travelled about and held himself at the beck and call of any householder who desired entertainment. The ladies of the harem were particularly fond of this method of being amused, hence the popular artiste was a literally much-sought-after personage in the home of the Bosphorus and bow-string. Within the last decade the talking machine had to a great extent supplanted the original artiste, whose repertoire was completely out of the running in regard to variety, hence the volume of business. Mr. Smoot described how he saw men going about the streets of the city, generally in couples, one carrying a talking machine and the other a bundle of records.
As they pass along the thoroughfare they cry their wares in much the same way as our own street seller, and, anyone who wishes, gives a call and enjoys a little concert "on their own", so to speak.
He secured about 350 records [=recordings], he told me, mostly songs I believe. The beauty of recording a Turkish artiste is that when the end of the record is reached, you can simply stop the singer at any point without much detriment to the sense or words of the selection. Breaking a Turkish song into pieces rather improves it than otherwise, so when the time comes the recording official digs the grand opera merchant in the ribs, and he dries up without protest. A course of treatment that would hardly suit the infidels, [Adelina] Patti or [Enrico] Caruso, I imagine.
One of the most interesting records he obtained was a descriptive Fire Scene. Incidentally it may be mentioned that there are computed to be 50.000 dogs running the streets of Constantinople.
They are greatly esteemed by the Turks, and rightly so, as they are the only scavengers the city possesses. Upon whatever happens in the city these dogs have to express thier opinion so their place in the description of this particular record can be imagined.
First of all, when a fire breaks out the watchman in the vicinity gives the alarm. There are about 1.000 of these watchmen, and they patrol the streets armed with an iron shod staff in their hands. As they patrol they keep time on the ground with the staff. When a fire breaks out the watchman who first discovers it, cries aloud in his high-pitched language of vowels, giving the district, Pera, Scutari, Stamboul, or where it is, at the same time striking the ground violently three times with the staff. Each of the other watchmen then takes up the cry, cannons are discharged, the 50.000 dogs give their opinion of the affair in various keys and the [fire] brigade turns out. So that it can be seen that an alarm of fire in Constantinople is somewhat on a par with an earthquake and tornado combined, and makes a capital subject for a record.
As regards the fire brigade itself, Mr. Smoot told me, there were two in existence, the regular one, founded by a Belgian resident, which is fairly competent, and an irregular contingent. The latter is evidently of little use in fighting the flames, for their invariable practice is, immediately their old superannuated hand machine appears, the members should start fighting, and this they do in a way that would put Kilkenny cats to shame. The record Mr. Smoot obtained of this scene contains all these features, and I was rather sorry to learn, that there was not much chance of hearing such an interesting novelty, though my informant added that any records the enthusiast might require could be obtained from the company.
[signed: The Recorder]

comment on wooden houses/ risk of fires
postcards of dogs
There are numerous accounts of these tulumbacilar
gramophone records (ODEON, TCB imitation)
June 1906 : Recording in the home of the unspeakable Turk (article on Mr. Smoot of the ODEON Company in "The Talking Machine News" of June 1906, p. 183).
"One of the most interesting record[ing]s he [Smoot] obtained was a descriptive Fire Scene."
[=ODEON X 31758 (xC 593) or X 54389 (xC 1741): "Yangin" by Achki Effendi, both records in my collection (HS): Picture of label!!!]
(interview Smoot with The Talking Machine News of June 1906, p. 183)

On 15 June 1906 Dan Smoot together with his wife and son left Liverpool for a vacation in the USA. They arrived in New York on 23 June 1906.

+ Mrs. J. D. SMOOT (29y)
+ Master Hy (sic = Harry) SMOOT (9y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
profession: engineer
date of departure: 15 June 1906
port of departure: Liverpool, England, UK
ship's name: SS "CEDRIC"
date of arrival: 23 June 1906
age on arrival: 32y
place of residence: 1410 J. Street, N.E. Washington DC

On 7 July 1906 John D. Smoot (“mechanical engineer in Berlin and in [the rest of] Europe”) applied to the Department of State at Washington for a new passport.
The passport was issued to him that same day under No. 17996.

Afterwards Smoot went back to Europe

4 December 1906 : Letter from Karl Friedrich Vogel to (who had taken up the post of ....... Vienna) to Birnbaum (London), p. IV:

Austria and Vienna - .......................................................................
The ODEON has now constantly a recorder here [J. D. Smoot] and presses the records half an hour from Vienna [in Schwechat], so that she can fill the market long before we receive the same."

[for Schwechat see also: letter 23/12/1910 p. 4-5 ; PhZ 11/12/489, 11/35/821, 12/2/27, 14/50/1101

Lindström-report (Jan. 1912):

For Austria their [ODEON's] records are pressed by Schief [= Schiff] with whom they have a contract ending April 1912. Schief [= Schiff] has 15 presses and one pair of rollers. His factory is at Schwechat near Vienna.

letter (4 December 1906):

“ODEON has now constantly a recorder here [= in Vienna] and presses the records half an hour from Vienna.” (= Schwechat, Schiff & Co.)

The recorder in question was Dan Smoot, also in view of Lindström report of January 1912, p. 20: Smoot (Vienna)

In Geschichte der schweizerischen Schallplattenaufnahmen Teil. 4 (H. P. Woessner), p. 272-274:

Der Aufnahme-Ingenieur, dessen Zeichen "M" auf den Platten eingeritzt sichtbar ist, ist uns nicht mit Namen bekannt; er muss permanent im Wiener Aufnahmestudio tätig gewesen sein.
xVo 1310-1323, ODEON-Agentur, Kärntnerstrasse 45, Wien: May 1911

Die Originalaufnahmen von Künstlern und Kapellen, welche für diese Fabrikation notwendig sind, werden von dem Ingenieur J. D. [= John Daniel] Smoot durchgeführt (Ein neuer österreichischer Industriezweig. Näheres über die Fabrikation der Schallplatten in Österreich (in: Österreichs Illustrierte Zeitung, Heft 6, Seiten 153-156, 8 Nov 1908)

On 7 December 1907 Smoot together with wife and son boards the SS "President Grant" in Hamburg and returns to the USA.
They arrive in New York on 20 December 1907.

+ Mrs. J. D. SMOOT (29y)
+ Harry SMOOT (9y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
profession: civil engineer
date of departure: 7 Dec 1907
port of departure: Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Germany
ship's name: SS "PRESIDENT GRANT"
date of arrival: 20 Dec 1907
age on arrival: 34y
place of residence: ...........(not shown)
(SHOWN IMAGE 0254 (SS "MAURETANIA") not correct: TEXT VERSION has 0107)

On 30 December 1907 John D. Smoot (“mechanical engineer”) applies to the Department of State at Washington for a new passport. Passport was issued that same day under No. 43890.

In January 1908 Smoot went back to Europe (source: Passport Application No. 69113).
“I left the United States on the ..... day of January 1908, and am now temporarily sojourning at Vienna, Austria...”

Harry (= John Henry) SMOOT (14y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
profession: none
date of departure: 26 Oct 1910
port of departure: Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Germany
ship's name: SS "PATRICIA"
date of arrival: 7 Nov 1910
age on arrival: 14y
place of residence: Vienna, AUSTRIA
final destination (relative/friend): Riverdale, NJ (is Smoot's son staying with F. M. Prescott?)
([born] June 1896 in Philadelphia)
Both on Hamburg passenger Lists and ELLIS ISLAND passenger lists
IMAGE 0572 and 0573

In September 1911 John Smoot was living in Berlin-Schönenburg, Germany.

Passport No. 255 was issued to John D. Smoot by the American Embassy at Vienna, Austria, on 17 February 1912, but is not available. This is stated on Passport Application No. 69113.

On 14 March 1912 John D. Smoot (“technical expert”) applies to the American Embassy at Vienna, Austria, for a new passport (“for the purpose of travelling in Europe.”).
Passport was issued on 29/30 March 1912 under No. 69113.

On 4 May 1912 John’s wife Emily Smoot (from Washington; indicated age is 4 years off) leaves Hamburg and arrives in New York on 16 May 1912.

Emily SMOOT (33y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
date of departure: 4 May 1912
port of departure: Hamburg, Germany
ship's name: SS "PENNSYLVANIA"
date of arrival: 16 May 1912
age on arrival: 33y (should be "35" or "37")
place of residence: Washington DC (no address)

On 8 December 1912 John D. Smoot returns to USA (from Hamburg) and arrives in New York on 21 December 1912.

John SMOOT (39y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
date of departure: 8 Dec 1912
port of departure: Hamburg, Germany
date of arrival: 21 Dec 1912
age on arrival: 39y
place of residence: 1433 Foxhall Road, Washington DC
(with birthdate 27 Nov 1873 and birthplace: Annandale, Fairfax, VIRGINIA)

Afterwards he sails for Europe again.

On 8 April 1913 Dan Smoot departs from Bremen to return to Washington (before World War I) arriving at New York on 15 April 1913.

John SMOOT (39y)
ethnicity: USA citizen
date of departure: 8 Apr 1913
port of departure: Bremen, Germany
date of arrival: 15 Apr 1913
age on arrival: 39y
place of residence: 1433 Foxhall Road, Washington DC
(with birthplace: Annandale, [Fairfax], VIRGINIA)
IMAGE 0489

On 19 September 1916 Jno. D. Smoot (“superintendent”), living in Washington DC, applied for a new passport.
The passport was issued that same day under No. 34425.
“For the following purpose: Commercial business in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Holland.
Contract with Mr. [Emil] Hartkopp of Scandinavian Grammophone Co. seen"
“I intend to leave the United States from the port of New York sailing on board the Kristianiafjord on October 7th 1916.”
(on 6 April 1917 The United States declared declared war on Germany and on 7 December on Austria-Hungary; see page 127-128 of The Penguin Atlas of World History, Vol. 2, Penguin Books, 1995)

Smoot recorded in o/p (sm) series for THE GRAMOPHONE COMPANY in Scandinavia in late 1916 and returned to the USA in 15 - 30 April 1917 (based on Karleric Liliedahl).

13000-13043 o 26 - 28 October 1916, Copenhagen
13044-13290 o 300 p 16 - 30 November 1916, Stockholm
13291-13406 o 301-302 p 4- 9 December 1916, Kristiania/Christiania = Oslo
13407-13490 o 303 & 314 p 13 - 16 December 1916, Copenhagen
13491-13517 o 304-313 p 28 - 30 December 1916, Stockholm

On 15 April 1917 Smoot left Norway departing from Bergen and arrived in New York on 30 April 1917.

John D. SMOOT (43y 5m)
(ELLIS ISLAND file pp 05272-05273 incorrectly gives: 34y 5m)
ethnicity: USA citizen
date of departure: 15 Apr 1917
port of departure: Bergen, Hordaland, NORWAY
ship's name: SS "BERGENSFJORD"
date of arrival: 30 Apr 1917
age on arrival: 43y 5m
place of residence: 1006 F.Str. N.E. Washington DC

However, there exists an EMI document, entitled “Notes of information dd. 15 June 1917 obtained from Mr. [Edmund J.] Pearse (one time a recorder for the Company) by Mr. Will C. Gaisberg, and communicated to the secretary.”

Mr. Pearse when coming from Petrograd travelled via Stockholm and called on Mr. Widing of the SKANDINAVISKA GRAMMOPHON-AKTIEBOLAGET., who informed him
- that Mr. [Emil] Hartkopp had been called up for service with the colours
- that he refused to go
- that as a consequence he would never again be able to enter Germany or even travel on a German boat
- that Mr. Berliner had dismissed the two Hampes [i.e. Franz and Max] immediately the D.G.A.G. was taken over by the POLYPHON [when?].
- that the American recorder (Smoot), who had been in Scandinavia for the purpose of making the records for the Scandinavian Companies, had returned to America without having made a record [and] that he was full of complaints and threats against the Gaisbergs and THE GRAMOPHONE COMPANY owing to their failure to render him the assistance necessary for the work
- that the DGAG were trying to insist on the whole of the Scandinavian orders being sent to Hanover under threats that unless this was done the German Company would flood the Scandinavian market with goods,
- and further that the feeling in Sweden against America at the present time was even more bitter than against England.

The document (obtained from Alan Kelly) implies in no uncertain terms that Smoot after all did not make the Scandinavian recordings.
So, if Smoot did not make the Scandinavian recordings, then who did?

The Netherlands and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) neutral
February 1915: Germany declares all seas around Great Britain warzone.
May: British passenger-ship Lusitania sunk by torpedoes (118 Americans killed)
1 February 1917 all-out submarine war
America breaks off relations with Germany
9 April 1917: USA (Woodrow Wilson) declares Germany war
Englishmen - when caught - would have been interned.
Scandinavia neutral
American passport/citizen
Hampes prob. forbidden to work for Gramco
German take-over of Gramco

- Letter 16 September 1927 from Smoot to Emile Berliner, Bruehl Str. 7, Hanover, Germany

- Letter 30 September 1927 from Smoot to Emile Berliner, Bruehl Str. 7, Hanover, Germany

[Biography of] Emil Berliner, Maker of the Microphone by Frederic William Wile
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1926 / Arno Press, 1974

Smoot was Secretary of the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) of Riverdale, Maryland.
Retired in 1945.

He served for 40 years on the Manor Park and Conduit Road Citizens Association as president; delegate to the Federation of Citizens Associations; chairman of the streets and highways committees.

On 30 April 1962 his wife Emily Ken(d)rick died in Washington DC.
(source: Washington Post, 2 May 1962)

John Daniel Smoot died on 9 February 1964 in Washington DC.
recording engineer

Passport Applications J. D. Smoot:

2 May 1901, Washington (#40333)
7 Feb 1906, London (#182) not available
7 July 1906, Washington (#17996)
30 Dec 1907, Washington (#43890)
17 Feb 1912, American Embassy at Vienna, Austria (#255) not available
29 Mar 1912, American Embassy at Vienna, Austria (#69113)
19 Sep 1916, Washington (#34425)

Frank Andrews in telephone conversation 3/6/2004:
Smoot was in South America for ODEON, as was William Ditcham (When?).

Monogram (Kürzel) JS D [= John Smoot Daniel?] found on:
ODEON (brown label)
No. 60230 / XP 3210 Le Châlet
No. 60231 / XP 3211 Le Châlet
Mr. Ananian (Opera de Monte Carlo) avec orchestre

Paul Vernon claims John Daniel Smoot recorded for Odeon in 1904 in the Dutch East-Indies.
1906 or 1907 are the more likely years for these recordings
(articles: Kronjong Silver, Cairo Practice and Odeon Records; Their Ethnic Output)

Heinrich SMOOT (15y) ???????
ethnicity: USA citizen
profession: none
date of departure: 31 Aug 1911
port of departure: Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Germany
ship's name: SS "THE PRETORIA"
date of arrival: 12 Sep 1911
age on arrival: 15y
place of residence: ...........
final destination: Staunton, VIRGINIA
IMAGE 0149


  • A FONOTIPIA FRAGMENTA. A History of the Societa Italiana di Fonotipia - Milano 1903-1948 by Frank Andrews (Historic Singers Trust, 2002), p. 47
    (this (revised) edition originally appeared as a series of articles in The Talking Machine Review - International between June 1976 and December 1977)



Frank Andrews †
EMI Archives
Bill Houchins
Art Houchins