Thomas Edison Reconnects with France at State Dinner

Last week, President Biden honored the French President Emmanuel Macron with lobster and a Thomas Edison patent, at his White House State dinner.

As part of the festivities, President Biden gave the President Macron a facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent of the American phonograph. Biden also gifted Macron a custom vinyl record collection of great American musicians, some of whom had been recorded by Thomas Edison as well.

Thomas Edison’s 1878 patent of the American Phonograph or Speaking Machine

During the dinner, Biden toasted to the “to the history that binds and the values that still unite us.” There is a long standing connection between the US and France, one that often includes Edison.

It all started with the Paris Exposition of 1889, when Thomas Edison exhibited his technological wonders there. The Eiffel Tower is the remaining landmark of that famous world’s fair that attracted 32 million visitors.

It was here that Gustav Eiffel and Edison forged their friendship. Gustave Eiffel had an apartment at the top of the Eiffel Tower where Eiffel hosted Thomas Alva Edison on September 10, 1889, at which time Edison presented Eiffel with an Edison Class M Phonograph.

Mannequins of Gustave Eiffel and Thomas Edison inside Eiffel’s apartment in the Eiffel Tower

Today, wax figures of Eiffel and Edison sit in that suite in an exhibit atop the Eiffel tower. The Statue of Liberty, engineered by Edison’s friend, still burns brightly in the Upper of Bay of New York as a gift from France for the 1876 for the American Centennial. Adding to this historical relationship now is a smaller piece of art, but just as beautiful and important – The technical drawings of Edison’s machine that began the entire American Music Industry.


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