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The Cook-Peary Files: October 20, 1909: Dr. Cook Receives Victor’s offer

Written on February 25, 2019

This is the 12th in a series examining significant unpublished documents related to the Polar Controversy.

The Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, NJ, was desirous of getting an exclusive contract with Dr. Cook for a record of his voice telling how he discovered the North Pole.

On October 6th they offered him $1,000 for this record, enclosing a check and sending it via the offices of the New York Herald in New York, which had exclusive rights to Cook’s serial narrative, then running every other day in that paper.

Apparently, his telegram in reply to this offer was not clear on the exclusivity of their rights. So they wrote to him again on October 20, clarifying exactly what they wanted and sweetening the deal by adding 10% of the price of each record sold to be added to the $1,000 originally offered.

Victor 1Victor 2

It should be understood that $1,000 in 1909 had the approximate buying power of $27,000 dollars today. Not bad for 4 minutes and 20 seconds of work!

Cook agreed to this proposal and cut his record in the Victor laboratory later that month. The record was a black seal record priced at $1.00. You can hear the result by going to the “Artifacts” section of this website and clicking on the link there, and you can also see the record’s label there as well.

The ad referred to in the letter can also be seen in the artifacts section.

The record was not on sale for long, less than two months. Dr. Cook’s failure to win approval of his North Pole claim from the University of Copenhagen pretty much quashed all sales, and it was allowed to drop from Victor’s catalogue without being repressed.

The letter can be found among the papers of Frederick A. Cook now held at the Library of Congress.

Filed in: Uncategorized.