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The first Dansette record player was manufactured in 1952 and at least one million were sold in the 1950s and 1960s. Dansette became a household name in the late 1950s and 60s when the British music industry shot up in popularity after the arrival of acts such as Cliff Richard, The Beatles, and The Shadows. Teenagers would have used various Dansette players to take to and from parties to listen to the latest records.
A Dansette was a common sight in many British households during the 1960s and is a statement and artifact of the vibrant, popular youth culture which developed during the period.
The Dansette was a versatile machine with many being equipped to play 7, 10- and 12-inch discs of 78, 45, 33⅓, and 16 rpm. Larger models such as the Bermuda could be fitted with optional legs for home use, while the Viva, Junior and "Diplomat" models were designed to be transportable, with a handle and studs affixed to the side of the case and latches to secure the protective lid. Like almost all record players of the day, they had built-in speakers. Some models of Dansette record players had a BSR autochanger allowing several records to be loaded at once, and played in succession.
Even though Dansette players were expensive, some experts and fans of the industry argue that the players were overrated. Despite this, the Dansette brand outsold other makes such as Dynatron, Bush, Kolster-Brandes, Ferguson and others.
Dansette set a "standard look" for all portable record players of the time - a latched lid on top, a speaker and control knobs on the front, and sometimes a carrying handle.
The very first model available in 1950/51 was the Plus~a~Gram and the Senior, these were very expensive and many teens and adults could not afford record players until later. It retailed at 33 guineas which today would be approximately £800. In 1962 a Dansette Popular 4 speed record player would be sold for 11 guineas and for another 2 guineas you could opt for the Bermuda with a 4 speed autochanger with legs. Despite this, many teenagers acquired one, taking them to parties, and purchasing the latest singles (45s). Many Dansettes were sold in December as Christmas presents, but the majority would be purchased with the then readily available "hire purchase". In 1958, Dansette started producing the Dansette Junior and later the De Luxe designed to appeal to the teenagers who would take them to and from parties.
The end of Dansette production
By the late 1960s, recording techniques were becoming more sophisticated. Stereo had been virtually ignored until then and there was a change of direction from the 45's to the LP. Customers began to seek more modern Hi-Fi systems. Samuel Margolin later stated: "Inevitably the market dried up for record players. Imports from Japan took over the market with cut-throat competition and the company went into liquidation.″ Dansette production ended in December 1969, following the introduction of relatively cheap and efficient Japanese and other Far Eastern imported Hi-Fi equipment.
During the years 1950-1969/70 over one million Dansettes were sold.
Many of these record players still remain in use but have been refurbished, there are now many firms in the UK who restore these players as well as independent engineers who restore the players as a hobby.