Leeds & Catlin’s Last Stand: The Peerless Twin Records (1908–1909)

Leeds & Catlin announced their new double-sided discs in September 1908, at about the same time as Columbia, and a couple of weeks ahead of Victor. By then, the company had been battered by the death of founder Edward Leeds and losses in a succession of patent-infringement suits, which it was in the process of appealing.

Leeds’ new double-disc was called the Peerless Twin Record, although “Twin” didn’t appear on the labels. They were mostly couplings of single-sided Imperial releases, with a smattering of newly recorded material that never appeared in single-sided form. Leeds also briefly produced double-sided pressings for D&R, National, and other client labels.

The Peerless advertisement and advance release list below appeared in The Talking Machine World for March 1909. On April 19, 1909, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the validity of Victor’s Berliner patent #534,543, which Leeds had been infringing. Production and distribution was immediately discontinued, and a petition in bankruptcy was filed on June 21, 1909. The April releases listed here would have been on the market for only a matter of weeks.

We’re currently completing work on Bill Bryant’s Leeds & Catlin Discography and Cylinderography for release in early 2013. You’ll find the entire fascinating Leeds & Catlin story in A Phonograph in Every Home: Evolution of the American Recording Industry, 1900-1919, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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