Recording Pioneers

Otto Heinrich WATZIG  1881 - 1945   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Otto Heinrich WATZIG  1881 - 1945

aka Otto H. Watzig, O. H. Watzig, Otto Watzig, O. Watzig
nationality German-American
birth 11 Sept 1881, Dresden, GERMANY
death 15 April 1945, Vancouver, Clark, WA, USA (carcinoma)
burial on 18 Apr 1945, Park Hill Cemetery, 5915 E Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, Washington (00. 1. 360. 696-8156) Lot D 147-3
marriage married on 30 July 1917, Portland, Multnomah to:
Hedwig Ann KASPER

b. 22 Sept 1892, Winona, Minnesota
d. 22 Oct 1973, Roseburg Hospital, Roseburg, Douglas, Oregon

  • Francis Edward

    b. 19 May 1919, Oregon
    d. 28 Februari 1993, Portland, Multnomah, OR

  • Cecelia Hedwig

    b. 26 Sept 1923 - 7 Dec 2004, Roseburg, Oregon

  • Marianne Ernestine WATZIG

    b. 13 July 1922, Canyonville
    d. 11/29 May 1985, Roseburg, OR


father Ferdinand Edward WATZIG

b. ...., Gunnersdorf, Dresden, GERMANY
d. .......

mother Ernestin(e) MORBITZ

b. ........
d. ..........

  • [Eduard] Bruno

    b. 1877, Dresden, GERMANY
    d. 31 Dec 1968, ..........

  • Otto Heinrich

    b. 11 Sept 1881, Dresden, GERMANY
    d. 15 April 1945, Vancouver

  • [Alma] Ida

    b. <1883>, Dresden, GERMANY

  • [Richard] Emil

    b. 12 Nov 1884, Dresden, GERMANY
    d. 30 July 1956, Tacoma, Pierce, Washington

  • [Ferdinand] Paul

    b. <1885>, Dresden, GERMANY

  • Carl/Karl Max

    b. 17 Sept 1887, Dresden, GERMANY
    d. 23 March 1945, Camas, Clark, WA

  • Heinrich Otto
  • Hugo Reinhold
  • Martha
  • Eduard
  • Elisabeth Ella


In 1907 recorder for NEOPHONE CO. (Kinnear Indian Recordings, p. 41, 47-48)
He was to embark on a Far Eastern recording tour including India, but there is no evidence to confirm that .....
Picture postcard dated 19 Feb 1908
In 1912 NIPPONOPHONE (PhZ 13, No. 15, p. 358)

Otto WATZIG (31y) clerk
+ Emil WATZIG (28y) clerk
+ Karl/Carl Max WATZIG (25y) mechaniker
+ Ida WATZIG (30y)
Dep. Cuxhaven: 11 June 1913
Arr. New York 19 June 1913
destination: San Francisco, CA

1917-1918 living as farmer in Canyonville, Douglas, Oregon

1920 Canyonville, Douglas, Oregon



I first came across the name "Otto Watzig" in a small announcement in the German trade journal "Phonographische Zeitschrift" of 1912.
Otto apparently had been asked to make recordings in Japan for ...... (Nipponophone?).
Kraemer and .....
"In Japan hat kürzlich die Verschmelzung der beiden Firmen Japan American Phonograph Co. und Nipponophone Compg. unter dem Namen der letzteren stattgefunden. Beide residieren in Yokohama. Die J.-A. P. Mfg. Co., Ltd. [Japanese-American Phonograph Manufacturing Company, Limited] ist die Fabrikations- und die Nipponophone, die Verkaufsgesellschaft. Der Gründer der Gesellschaften ist F. W. Horne, ein Händler in amerikanischer Maschinerie und früherer Agent der Victor - Company.
Die Experten sind zwei Deutsche, Thomas Kraemer aus Philadelphia, der Superintendent der Machinenabteilung und Otto Wätzig, der Superintendent der Plattenfabrikation.
Der letztere befindet sich schon über drei Jahre bei der Firma.
Die Nipponophone - Gesellschaft beherrscht den Japanischen Markt noch ganz ohne Konkurrenz, da der Einfuhrzoll von 50% jede Konkurrenz von ausserhalb ausschliesst.
Japan hat noch ein lohnendes Feld für deutsche Fabrikanten der Branche bei Errichtung einer Fabrikationsfiliale, besonders da der ungeheure Markt Chinas vor der Tür liegt."


Since I was not familiar with Otto Watzig I stored away this piece of information.
The second time I saw Otto Watzig's name mentioned was in Michael S. Kinnear's book "The Gramophone Company's Indian Recordings, 1899-1908".
According to Kinnear, Watzig was the recording expert of the NEOPHONE Company and in 1907 he was to embark on a Far Eastern recording tour including India.
Kinnear remarks that until now no evidence had been found to confirm this.

NEOPHONE (Dr.) William Michaelis, Joe Batten, Percy J. Packmann, H. D. Nesbitt (GRAMMAVOX article Frank Andrews, p. 3101)

The Talking Machine Review, 65-66, Febr 1983, pp 1798-1807 Neophone catalogue reproduced

High time to do some research on Otto Watzig...
I found Otto Watzig's name on the passenger list of the SS "IMPERATOR" which had departed on 11 June 1913 from Cuxhaven, Hamburg in Germany and was bound for New York.
Also on that passenger list were Otto's brothers Emil, Karl/Carl Max and his sister Ida.
San Francisco`(California) was given as final destination. From there Otto no doubt was going to board a ship bound to Japan....
The Watzigs arrived at New York on 19 June 1913.
Strangely enough both Otto's and Emil's occupation is described as "clerk", whereas his brother Carl Max's occupation was listed as "Mechaniker" [mechanician/technician].
One would have expected things to have been the other way round...

As it turned out, one of their brothers, Bruno, had already visited the USA at an earlier date (in 1910).
His name is found on a passenger list of the SS "PENNSYLVANIA", which departed from Hamburg on 14 August 1910 and arrived at New York on 26 Aug 1910.
His destination: Portland, Oregon.

Originally the Watzigs [or rather the Wätzigs] came from Gunnersdorf near Dresden, Germany.
Otto was the second son of Ferdinand Eduard/Edward Wätzig and Ernestine Morbitz.
The other (6? 7?) children were: [Eduard] Bruno, [Alma] Ida, [Ferdinand] Paul, Richard Emil and Karl/Carl Max.
Four other Watzig children (Hugo Reinhold, Martha, Eduard and Elisabeth Ella Watzig) seem to have died at an early age...

I consulted all kinds of sources (ELLIS ISLAND, censuses, draft registration cards, phonebooks and obituaries (ROOTSWEB/FAMILYSEARCH/ANCESTRY/RAOGK) for genealogical information)

no date:
one of Otto taken in Berlin when he was still associated with NEOPHONE (a very small inconpicuous picture which I had blown up and to my surprise it....),

A photo of Otto and Bruno which they sent as a picture postcard to their parents i.e. Ed. (= Eduard) Wätzig in Dresden, Germany (dated 19 Feb 1908, Bangalore, India) and written in old German handwriting (the so-called sütterlin script).

Herrn Ed[uard] Wätzig, Dresden-A,
Schützenplatz 5 II, Germany

Bangalore 19.2.08

Liebe Eltern!

Auf dieser Karte seht Ihr einen Ameisen-
haufen von weissen Ameisen errichtet. Ich
schrieb Euch im letzten Brief davon.
Ich wollte Euch eigentlich heute einen
anderen Brief senden, bin aber nicht
fertig geworden. Habt ihr von dem
Krawall in Bombay gehört? Ich schreibe
Euch von dieser Massenmörderei im Brief.
Die Blätter erzählen nicht viel [davon]. Nächsten
Montag reise ab nach dem Süden von
Indien, es [ist] mir hier nicht heiss genug.
[upside down]
Wir haben jetzt bloss 35? R [= Réaumur] in der
Sonne und 23? [R] im Schatten, angenehmer Winter.
Es grüsst Euch herzlich
Euer Bruno.

- an undated picture of Otto and Bruno taken in Mysore (India) (Gruppe von ....... Elephanten in Mysore).
- an undated picture of Otto and Bruno sitting at a small table (prob. India)
- an undated picture of Otto and Bruno with bicycles taken at the village of Tumkur, 8 miles ... of Bangalore (dorf (Ort?) Tumbur or Tumkur?) ca 8 Meil ... von Bangalore)
- undated picture of Otto and some unknown Englishman(?) surrounded by 21 Indians
- undated picture of Otto and Bruno

These pictures prove that Otto did visit India after all, although they cannot be considered proof that recordings were actually made. Apparently Otto was accompanied on this trip by his brother Bruno.

a beautiful picture of Otto and his brother Emil near one of the entrance gates of the Great Wall of China (written on the back: 10.10.12 (= 10 October 1912) Chi Men(?) Tor der Tartar City, Peking, China)

1910 - 1913?
Otto at the seaside with four Japanese men.

It turned out that in the end Bruno, Otto (Heinrich) and (Richard) Emil had migrated for good to the USA.
In the USA Federal Censuses of 1920 1nd 1930 we find the gentlemen living on north-west coast of America.
From the description of their occupations in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses (prune drying/farmer/runs orchard) it is clear that they became involved in the growing of fruit in the Oregon/Washington area, when their travels were over.
Otto (full name: Otto Heinrich) was born on 11 September 1881 in Dresden, Germany
In 1917 he married Hedwig Ann Kasper in Portland, Multnomah county, Washington and the couple had 3 children.
Otto Watzig died - one month after the death of his brother Max - on 15 April 1945 in Vancouver, Washington.


[Neop]hon? [Grammoph]on? braucht keine Nadeln



9inch 6d [each]

12inch 1/. each


In the picture a stand/pedestal with a gramophone
women in evening-dress plus three other people

Later DENON (= DENSHI ONKO = electric sound)

Nipponophone Phonograph Company founded by Frederick Whitney Horne, American entrepreneur, in 1910 (internet)
3 x on California passenger lists
2 x on Seattle passenger lists
1 x on New York passenger list
His age will have been indicated

Frederick W. Horne (b. 1868, ...., Anson Co., North Carolina)
F: William E. Horne (b. 1802 - d. 24 May 1882)
M: Sarah Moore (Meador?) CARAWAY (b. 1835, NC)
got married 1824

Frederick W. Horne (b. <1856> Union, NC

PhZ 13 / No. 15 / p. 358
F. W. Horne (merchant american machinery and previously agent of Victor Company)
Thomas Kraemer (superintendent Machine Deaprtment from Philadelphia)
Otto Watzig (superintendent Record Manufacturing; already 3 years with the firm)


Russell E. Hunting Head of Recording Department Nipponophone 1920-1923
(source: William Howland Kenney, p. 72 & note 30)
In 1923 Russell E. Hunting (27y) returns from Yokohama to San Francisco together with his wife Marie H. .... - Hunting (25y) and son Russell E. Hunting Jr. (2y).


  • The Gramophone Company's Indian Recordings, 1899-1908 by Michael Kinnear (Popular Prakashan. Bombay, 1994), pp. 40-41
  • NEOPHONE the first vertical-cut record The first to issue vertical-cut discs ... (The 78 rpm homepage-Neophone)
  • Joe Batten's Book. The Story of Sound Recording by Joe Batten (1956, Rockcliff Publishing Corporation)
  • H 3985 Gramophone and parts: Neophone
  • Dead Media Home Page (The dead media project) Working notes: In London in 1904 William Michaelis (.......... by Gelatt, p. 169) Repro-Neo (Reproducer-Neophone)
  • Vintage Brass Band Recordings: Neophone 15059-15066 (1905)
  • type in: "Neophone reproducer" (= soundbox): Syst. Dr. Michaelis (photo)
  • Guinness, p. 125/190 (Neophone)
  • Alte Schallplatten-Marken by Franz Schorn (photocopy)
  • A rare Neophone Home Recorder (put up for sale on the internet)
  • From Tinfoil to Stereo: pp. 146/149-150/158/193/341
  • Neophone Record Labels (
  • H3985 Gramophone and parts, 'Neophone', 12" wood/metal, Dr Michaelis, [1900-1915] (Collection Powerhouse Museum) (photograph)
  • Flexible Records Project
  • Neophone. The first vertical-cut record (
  • Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound in the United States, ed. Marco, 1993 (article by Frank Andrews)
  • Neophone; Neophone Disc Phonograph Records, Their Founding & History by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 51 (April 1978), pp. 1304-1313)
  • Neophone by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 52-53 (June - August 1978), pp. 1333-1339)
  • Neophone: A catalogue of Neophone Records known to have been advertised in Britain - part 1 by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 54-55 (October 1978), pp. 1397-1400)
  • Neophone, Part 2 by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 56-57 (February-April 1979), pp. 1455-1457)
  • Neophone: A catalogue of Neophone Records known to have been advertised in Britain - part 3 by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 59 (August 1979), pp. 1577-1578)
  • The Talking Machine Review No. 65-66 (February 1983) pp 1798-1807: Catalogue of Neophone Disc Phonographs (1906) with picture of Dr. [William] Michaelis
  • The Talking Machine Review No. 75 (Autumn 1988), p. 2201: Neophon(e)
  • The Talking Machine Review No. 75 (Autumn 1988), pp. 2209-2224 : reproduction of NIPPONOPHONE MACHINES catalogue of June 1912
  • A Fonotipia Fragmenta by Frank Andrews, p. 18
  • Neophon-Pathé (in: Phonographische Zeitschrift of 8 Nov 1906)
  • Neophon-Platten (in: Phonographische Zeitschrift of 22 Nov 1906)
  • 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)


Otto Watzig (man with bowler hat towards the back in the centre),
Berlin or Leipzig, ca. 1905
from left to right: Otto and Bruno Watzig, India, prob. 1908
From left to right: Otto and Bruno Watzig (village of Tumkur, near Bangalore, prob. 1908)
Postcard sent by Bruno and Otto Watzig to their father in Dresden (Bangalore, 19 February 1908)
The text is reproduced in "LIFE"
Otto and Emil Watzig at one of the City Gates of Peking (Beijing), China, October 1912
From left to right: Bruno, Max, Otto and Emil Watzig, Oregon, U.S.A.


Marge Watzig
Birgit Motzki