THERE'LL COME A TIME: trombone solo by Arthur Pryor. Berliner 3309, recorded 27 July 1897. Arthur Pryor was a trombonist in John Philip Sousa's Orchestra, and later ran his own Ragtime Orchestra. Though the oldest recording here, the quality is the best - quite remarkable for its age.
THE CIRCUS GIRL: The 7th Ragtime Orchestra. Berliner 87, possibly recorded 8 October 1897 (the markings are very difficult to read).
FUNICULI FUNICULA: The Dumont Minstrels. Berliner E4008, recorded 21 September 1898.
I'M A NAUGHTY GIRL: Miss Beatrice Hart and Chorus from Daly's. Berliner 3078, recorded in London, 18 January 1899. (Daly's was a famous musical theatre in London's Leicester Square.) The first few seconds of this record are damaged, and I have done the best I can with them: after that it settles down. This song comes from the operetta A Greek Slave by Lionel Monkton and I've posted the lyrics here.
If you are interested in hearing even older recordings I recommend a CD issued by Symposium Records (England): Symposium 1058: "Emil Berliner's Gramophone" (unfortunately it is currently out of print).
If you would like to download these recordings you can do so from this page.
The four recordings which can be played on this page are from original copies in my collection of gramophone records, made in 1897 to 1899. The fascination with them is their sheer age. When they were made the gramophone was little more than a toy, not expected to be more than a passing fad. These little glimpses of the Victorian era, dim and almost unintelligable though they are, are an almost magical link with a long-gone age.
The records themselves are seven inches in diameter, and instead of having a stuck-on paper label, the information is pressed or engraved in the wax (the titles are often written by hand, as is - usefully - the recording date).