The Greenhill motor was the first spring-driven phonograph motor to be placed on the market, anticipating the American Amet motor by a few weeks in 1893. It had been patented in the U.K. in 1891 (No. 7962), and in the U.S. in 1892 (No. 494633), and was advertised in the first issue of The Phonogram in May 1893. It was available from the Edison Phonograph Company at 69 Fore Street, London E.C. Two models were offered, providing running time for three or eight cylinders at one winding; the present example is the second type, retailing in 1893 for £20.
At the time, the normal motive power for an Edison phonograph was a wet-cell battery, which was messy and troublesome; the difficulty with spring motors was the need for absolute constant speed, which had not been essential in previous drive-trains such as those used in musical boxes or striking clocks. One advertisement in 1893 claimed This beautiful contrivance removes the only serious objection to the Phonograph, viz -- Electricity.
Given the small number of phonographs in use at the time, and the even smaller number of users who would have had £15 or £20 to spend on a motor, it is perhaps not surprising that few were sold, and the present example is, so far, the only known survivor.
J.E. Greenhill, who died in 1907 at the age of 67, was a dedicated scientist and experimenter, as well as a teacher (he founded and was principal of Vermont College, in Clapton, East London) and an archaeologist.