The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Amazing Talking-Tape Card

May 24th, 2008 · 6 Comments

For 35ยข you could give your beloved the gift of sound —
in the form of an Amazing Talking-Tape Card.


This particular example was made by the now defunct White & Wyckoff Manufacturing Company of Holyoke, MA. Since 1889, White & Wyckoff had been part of a thriving paper industry in Western Massachusetts towns such as Holyoke and Chicopee. According to the instructions on the back of the package, you tie a knot in one end of the red plastic tape, and insert the other end through the back of the card. Holding the card “in cupped palm of left hand” you draw your thumbnail along the ribbed side of the tape to hear the birdie talk.

Here’s a sample:
Happy Birthday

This is essentially very simple phonograph technology. As with the grooves in a record, the sound is encoded in the ribs, and the nail of your right thumb acts as a needle.

Unfortunately, there are no alternative methods provided for those of us who are left-handed, or without a thumb. Other messages available in this series include:

  • Hello Sweetheart
  • Please Get Well
  • Merry Christmas

    (Posted by Lisa Hirschfield)

    Tags: Animals · Ephemera

    6 responses so far ↓

    • 1 elena // May 25, 2008 at 9:54 pm

      as far as the fomerly thriving paper industry in western mass…..i remember hearing that either palmer or three rivers is the birthplace of the first commercially produced tampon!

    • 2 Christine Custer // Jul 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

      We found a “To My Valentine” talking card that says “Hello Sweetheart”. Is there any value in this card? It is copyright 1938.

    • 3 Doug // Jul 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

      I have no idea! But I’ll leave your comment here, in case anyone else knows.

    • 4 Brian Winkelman // Feb 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      I have in my possession 2 talking cards. One says Happy birthday to you and the other says Top of the morning to you. They both have a date of 1938 on them. Do they have any value? Was just wondering. I really don’t think I would part with them. Thanks.

    • 5 Lisa // Feb 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      I have no idea as to the value of these cards. My guess is that their sentimental value would be higher that any monetary value they may have as collectibles. You might check auction sites to see what folks are willing to pay for them, but even that is an unreliable gauge. But since you wouldn’t part with them, you probably have a good sense of much they’re worth to you!

    • 6 Ankitoner // Jun 5, 2014 at 6:01 am

      These cards do not have a high value. I have bought some on eBay over the years at an average price of $5-$10

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