Category Archives: Inventions

Jeder einmal in Berlin

‘Jeder Einmal in Berlin!’ by Hugo Hirsch & Alfred Müller-Förster, published by Hugo Hirsch (Charlottenburg, 1927), photo collage by Albert Vennemann.

This photo collage by  Albert Vennemann conveys the buzz of a dynamic, modern city. We recognise the famous light traffic tower from Potzdammer Platz, the Brandenburg Gate, the Rotes Rathaus, the radio tower, the ubiquitous cars and a bus with an advertisement for the Scala, a very successful variety hall internationally reputed during the Golden Twenties.

Beautiful Berlinphotomontage of traffic in Berlin by Albert Vennemann. Source: MutualArt.

Vennemann was a Berlin photographer, who is now almost forgotten. He made pictures of everyday street life, capturing the idyll of the city and the (new) charms of illuminated advertising. He became an expert at photomontages of contemporary architecture and technology. Thus, Vennemann provided the visuals for the first Berlin city marketing campaign Jeder einmal in Berlin, meaning everybody should be at least once in Berlin.

It is also thanks to another artist, Walter Ruthmann, that we can witness the industrial, technical and cultural modernity that emanated from Berlin at that time He created his avant-garde film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City) in 1927. It is an invaluable time capsule of a Berlin that —fifteen years and 350 air raids later— would be dramatically destroyed.

‘Die erste Nacht’ by Hugo Hirsch & Hans H. Zerlett, published by Rondo Verlag (Berlin, 1922) and illustrated by Ortmann.

The popular march for the Jeder einmal in Berlin campaign was composed by Hugo Hirsch, a composer of well-received operettas. He left Germany in 1933 to escape Nazi anti-Semitism, and was able to survive the war by staying in France.

‘Die tolle Lola’ by Hugo Hirsch, Gustav Kadelburg & Arthur Rebner, published by Drei Masken Verlag (Berlin, 1922) and illustrated by Wolfgang Ortmann.

We wonder if Hirsch’s march could have lured you you to Berlin…

The promotional slogan Jeder einmal in Berlin was picked up by the Residenz-Casino, nicknamed the Resi: Jeder einmal im “Resi“!

The Resi was a vast dance-hall where everything seemed bigger and more luxurious than in any other dance venue. Each table had a connection to a pneumatic table-mail-service post. Using the pneumatic post, a patron could send intimate messages to revellers at other tables along with small presents: cigarettes, cigars, chocolates, pens, perfume, matches or tiny manicure pouches. There was a long list of gift items to choose from. Moreover, each table had its own telephone with a clearly visible table number on top. Above it was a lightbulb that could give one of three signals: dancer wanted, female dancer wanted or do not disturb. This technology must have given plenty of opportunities for romantic thrills and flirts with complete strangers. Everybody —at least once!— at the “Resi“.

Promotion booklet for the Resi.

The Mikiphone – The iPod of the Twenties


    (La Chanson du Mikiphone) by Fred Pearly, Pierre Chagnon & Jacques-Charles, published by Lucien Brulé (Paris, 1926) and illustrated by Robert Laroche.

The cover for the ‘Miki’ song triggered my curiosity about the Mikiphone. The sheet music tells us that it is a pocket phonograph and that the Moulin Rouge and Mistinguett were contracted to market it in one of their famous revues.

Around 1917 two Hungarian brothers, Nicolas and Etienne Vadasz, began designing a small gramophone. After completing the development in 1924, they patented the appliance. A Swiss company did the mass production and in 1925 the Mikiphone went on sale. With a diameter of 11.5 cm, and only 5 cm thick when closed, the round tin box resembles an oversized pocket watch.

The Mikiphone. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France,
Publicity for the Mikiphone
Publicity for the Mikiphone by Miklos Vadasz (source unknown)

Imagine, in the roaring twenties, arriving at a party with the newest gadget, a Mikiphone, in your trouser pocket…Then you take it out and while all youngsters gather around you in anticipation, you start assembling the parts which all fit in the box. This takes time and quite some skill as you can witness on the video. But at last you put on a 10-inch fox-trot shellac disc, you crank the winding key with your hand and the dancing party can begin.

The Mikiphone. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France,

The sound membrane consisted of a mica sheet coupled to a bakelite sound resonator. Never mind it’s impracticality, it is a marvellous piece of design, praised by Le Corbusier. I love it!

Around 180.000 of these cute mini record players were sold. Alas, three years after the first production the Mikiphone sales stagnated, and its production was discontinued. A few decades later, the mini rage of the sixties had yet to begin…