The Birth of Paramount Records: New York Recording Laboratories’ 1917 Incorporation Papers

One of the most persistent myths surrounding the New York Recording Laboratories (makers of Paramount records) is that the company was never legally incorporated. The misconception stems in part from testimony in a 1936 lawsuit (Wisconsin Chair Co. v. I. G. Ely Co., 91 S.W. 2d 913), in which it was stated — erroneously, as we now know — that NYRL “is not and was not at any time a corporation, a partnership, or an individual.”

However, NYRL was indeed incorporated — in Port Washington, Wisconsin, on July 2, 1917 — as the notarized copy of the incorporation filing shown below confirms. This  oversized document (from an early photostat, courtesy of Randy Stehle) is too large and faded to be easily legible online, so we’ve transcribed the most relevant portions at the end of the article.

NYRL did lose its corporate status in 1921, when (along with the United Phonographs Corporation, the original registrants of the Puritan trademark) it was merged with the parent Wisconsin Chair Company. UPC and NYRL were dissolved at that time. UPC was soon scuttled, but NYRL continued to operate, simply as a trade-name of Wisconsin Chair (although “Inc.” remained on the labels for several more years) — apparently cause for confusion in the 1936 testimony.



Articles of Organization
The New York Recording Laboratories


Article I.

The undersigned, all of them adults and residents of the state of Wisconsin, have associated and do hereby associate themselves together for the purpose of forming a corporation under Chapter 86 of the Wisconsin Statutes; the business and purpose of which corporation shall be the manufacture and selling of phonograph records, phonographs, phonograph parts, and the manufacture and sale of all things incident to the use in connection with the same…

Article II.

The name of the said corporation shall be the New York Recording Laboratories, and its creation shall be in the city of Port Washington, county of Ozaukee, and state of Wisconsin.

Article III.

The capital stock of said corporation shall be Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and same shall consist of one hundred (100) shares each of which said shares be of the face or par value of One Hundred Dollars ($100).


[Articles IV – VII deal with corporate structure and regulations, stockholder voting rights, and options for amendment.]


In Witness Thereof, we have hereunto set our hand and seals this 2nd day of July, A.D. 1917.

F. A. Dennett
J. M. Bostwick
J. R. Dennett
Edward J. Barrett
O. E. Moesser

… [The above signed] doth each for himself depose and say that he is one of the original signers of the above declaration and articles, that the above and foregoing is a true, correct, and complete copy of said original declaration and articles and of the whole thereof.


For the most detailed history ever published of Paramount records and the people and companies behind them, be sure to check out the second, revised and expanded edition of Alex van der Tuuk’s Paramount’s Rise and Fall, available from Mainspring Press and many libraries.

The Photo Gallery • Victor Records – Popular Instrumental Stars (1915–1916)

From the Victor monthly supplements (1915 –1916), courtesy of John R. Bolig. Full discographical details of the artists’ recordings from this period, compiled from the original recording ledgers and production cards, can be found in John’s Victor Black Label Discography, Vol. 1 (16000 / 17000 Series), available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


78 Records Playlist • Leopold Stokowski Explains Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony (1927)

A music appreciation lesson, 1920s style. In early 1928, Victor released a newly remade version of their first Musical Masterpiece album — Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5, “From the New World,” by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. The original version (using October 1925 masters recorded in Camden, New Jersey) had released on April 30, 1926.

As a bonus, the remade version included this special single-sided disc by Leopold Stokowski himself, which was never sold individually. The new recordings, other than Stokowski’s talk, were made at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. They retained the original matrix numbers (which were assigned higher take numbers), M-1 album number, and 6500-series catalog numbers; however, Red Seal catalog numbers had advanced into the 6700s by the time the new version was issued, as reflected by the number assigned to this side.

At one point, Stokowski contends that Dvorak was influenced by “Negro jazz,” confusing jazz with its predecessor, ragtime (seminal examples of had just begun making their way into print at the time Dvorak was composing this symphony in 1893) — not an uncommon error, even at that late date.


LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI (speech and piano): Symphony No. 5, “From the New World” (Dvorak, Op. 95) — Outline of Themes with Piano

Camden, NJ: October 6, 1927
Victor 6743 (mx. CVE 40401 – 2)
Included in version 2 of Victor Musical Masterpiece Album M-1 (released January 27, 1928)

Note: Victor also recorded a Spanish translation of Stokowski’s talk by José Tablada, with piano by Rosario Bourdon, for the Latin American market (issued on single-sided Victor 6750).


Discographical data from the original Victor files (courtesy of John R. Bolig) and Victor’s May 1926 Talking Machine World listing.