Black Swan Carusos, and Other Pirate Tales (1898 – 1951)

Black Swan Carusos, and Other Pirate Tales
(1898 – 1951)
By Allan Sutton

 

 

Record piracy — the unauthorized copying and selling of sound recordings — is a problem as old as the recording industry itself. Charges of cylinder piracy first surfaced in the early 1890s and became increasingly common as the decade progressed. Legal recourse was limited; sound recordings were not protected under copyright law at the time, and would not be for many more decades.

Pirating the early wax cylinders was simplicity in itself, requiring only a couple of phonographs, an inexpensive recording head, a cylinder to copy, and some blanks upon which to copy it. Disc records were not immune to piracy, either, although the process was more complicated. The earliest discs sold for use with the new Zonophone machines used masters that were electroplated from Berliner pressings, with the Berliner name and patent notice buffed out.

At about the same time, the Standard Talking Machine Company (comprising Albert T. Armstrong, Joseph W. Jones  Joseph A. Vincent, Emory Foster, and musical instrument manufacturer Charles G. Conn)  [1] began selling pirated Berliner discs under the Wonder brand, for sale with the Wonder Double-Bell Talking Machine, a two-horned phonograph apparently inspired by Conn’s line of double-belled band instruments. Standard issued a substantial disc catalog made up entirely of Berliner recordings that retained their original catalog numbers, with a “1” prefix added. The company quickly failed.

Armstrong’s next venture, the American Talking Machine Company, offered a new disc line, pressed in the same distinctive red fibrous material as the Wonder records. Berliner also claimed  these were pirated, although some known examples are not. American Talking Machine countered with the offer of a $1000 reward for the arrest and conviction of “parties circulating false and malicious statements” about their products. The manager of Berliner’s Philadelphia office was arrested, but little more came of the scuffle. The company failed in 1900, after the American Graphophone Company (Columbia) withdrew patent protection. [2]

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.(Top) The Wonder Record catalog was made up entirely of pirated Berliner Gramophone recordings; catalog numbers were Berliner’s, prefixed by a 1. (Bottom) Albert Armstrong’s American Talking Machine discs used some non-Berliner masters that are believed to have been original. His later American Vitaphone records used pirated Victor and Columbia recordings. The example shown here is a Columbia title by Billy Murray.

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The arrival in the early 1900s of molded cylinders, which required expensive equipment and a high degree of technical expertise to produce, put an end to cylinder piracy. Discs were another story.

By 1902, Armstrong and some former associates were back in business, as the American Vitaphone Company. [3] They  launched the earliest known “record club,” which amounted to an exchange program under which members could turn in their old records for partial credit toward new Columbia, Victor, or Zonophone discs. [4] For a time, Armstrong even offered to take in old Berliner machines, which he would refurbish for $12 and return to the customer with a new Concert Grand nameplate. Such record-exchange arrangements, however, were frowned upon by the major suppliers (which considered them to be illegal price-cutting), and Vitaphone’s “club” appears to have been short-lived. [5]

But what landed Armstrong and company in serious legal trouble was their introduction in 1902 of American Vitaphone discs, which were clearly pirated from Columbia and Victor recordings. Masters, again made by electroplating commercial pressings, often showed the original markings, and Armstrong even retained the Columbia and Victor catalog numbers. Shoddily pressed and barely advertised, the records did little if anything to undermine Victor or Columbia sales.

Victor finally took action in 1904, suing American Vitaphone for unfair competition as well as infringing its “red circular label applied to the center of a disc,” [6] for which it had recently been granted a U.S. trademark. [7] U.S. Circuit Court Judge Lacombe dismissed the red-label argument but ruled that American Vitaphone’s “re-duplication” of Victor recordings did indeed constitute unfair competition. [8] He granted an injunction on October 4 of that year, effectively ending the American Vitaphone operation. Armstrong died in early 1905, and in  November of that year, the American Express Company served notice that it would auction all unclaimed American Vitaphone property in its possession.

The Vitaphone decision had a temporary chilling effect on would-be pirates. Victor and Columbia instead turned their attention to vanquishing upstart companies, like Leeds & Catlin and Talk-O-Phone, that infringed their patents. The latter was still manufacturing phonographs, although it had not produced its own records since late 1903. [9] But in October 1908, Talk-O-Phone founder Winant Van Zant Pearce Bradley resurfaced in pirate mode with the Continental Record Company of New Baltimore, New York. Officially, the company was incorporated by Benjamin I. Carhart, E.O. Goodell, and J. C. Cady, Jr., none of whom were known entities in the recording industry. [10] In reality, as later testimony would reveal, the company was just a front for Bradley.

Following the now-familiar procedure, Continental obtained its stampers by electroplating commercial pressings of Victor and Fonotipia celebrity recordings. The stampers were sent to an undisclosed foreign location, widely suspected to be Japan, where a factory had recently opened that supposedly pressed  and exported “re-duplicated” records. Although the original markings were generally effaced from the stampers, Continental’s sales literature and labels openly acknowledged that the discs were “duplicates” of original records.”

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(Left) A Continental pressing from a pirated Fonotipia master, with the disclaimer, “This record is a duplicate of an original recording.” (Right) A Luxus pressing from a pirated Caruso Victor. Possibly of foreign origin, specimens turn up in the U.S. on occasion. (Kurt Nauck collection)

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In August 1909, following motions for preliminary injunctions, Victor and Fonotipia Ltd. brought separate actions against Bradley, which were tried together by Judge Chatfield. [11] Investigation revealed that the Continental Record Company, which claimed in its incorporation papers to be headquartered in New Baltimore (a rural village south of Albany, New York), had no verifiable office or plant there; its only confirmed employee was a local attorney. The company’s New York billing address, at 147 West Thirty-Fifth Street, turned out be occupied by an apparently unrelated storage company. Bradley claimed to have no connection with the company, except as its sales agent, but he was unable to produce witnesses who would testify to that effect.

During the trial, it was established beyond doubt that Bradley’s pressings were pirated from commercial releases. Despite his  claim that the records were equal in quality to the originals, examination revealed that the Continental pressings used inferior material, were less durable and more prone to warping than the originals, and exhibited  “a dulling or far-away effect” in playback.

Waldo G. Morse (the attorney who had represented Bradley’s Talk-O-Phone Company several years earlier) contended that Victor’s and Columbia’s licensing agreements and price controls amounted to restraint of trade, and that the artists whose work had been taken were necessary parties to the suit. Judge Chatfield rejected both arguments, holding that Bradley’s operation amounted to unfair competition, and granted an injunction. [12]

In his ruling, the judge opined, “The education of the public by the dissemination of good music is an object worthy of protection, and it is apparent that such results could not be attained if the production of the original records was stopped by the wrongful taking of both product and profit by anyone who could produce sound discs free from the expense of obtaining the original record.” Bradley moved on to other, non-phonographic endeavors, although his brothers remained involved in some legally questionable enterprises, including the patent-infringing International Record Company.

Little more was heard of illegal record operations, at least in the U.S., until 1921. In early April, the Opera Disc Company burst on the scene with an extensive catalog featuring Enrico Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, and many other exclusive Victor Red Seal artists. [13] The company had been incorporated several months earlier by New York securities broker Max Hesslein, in partnership with C. G. Galston and C. Rose. [14] Although the company named its label Musica, the public called them “Opera Discs” from the start. [15]

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.(Left) An early Opera disc issue, with the company’s label pasted over a DGG original. (Right) The more familiar version of the label, applied directly to the pressings.

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Manufactured in Germany by Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft (DGG) and exported by DGG’s Polyphonwerke branch, Opera Discs were not technically pirated. DGG’s predecessor, Deutschen Grammophon Aktiegescheellschaft (DGA), was the Gramophone Company’s German branch and as such held a vast number of Gramophone and Victor masters at its Hannover pressing plant. The masters were seized as spoils of war at the outbreak of German hostilities in 1914. Following the war’s end, DGA was reorganized as DGG, an independent entity. Although it no longer had corporate ties to the Gramophone or Victor companies, DGG claimed rights to any of those companies’ masters that had been in their possession at the time of the seizure.

What DGG did not possess were rights to distribute those recordings outside of Germany. Victor and the Gramophone Company immediately demanded that distribution be halted, to no avail. [16] The records continued to be sold into 1922, when the matter was finally referred to the Anglo-German Mixed Arbitral Tribunal in London. Although sales of the recordings in Germany were ruled to be legal and allowed to continue, DGG and Polyphonwerke were enjoined from exporting the records. [17] In the U.S., Victor sought but initially failed to obtain a permanent  injunction. [18] A definitive American ruling was not issued until March 31, 1923, when the  U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted the injunction and ordered the Opera Disc Company to turn over all pressings, catalogs, and advertising material to Victor. [19]

American customers, it turned out, liked Opera Discs. The records were pressed in better material than their Victor counterparts, some dealers offered them below list price (which was roughly comparable to that of the corresponding Red Seals), and the catalog included European recordings by the likes of Battistini and Chaliapin that were not otherwise available in the U.S. They sold well overall; even today, many issues are still fairly easy to find.

A strong market for Victor knock-offs clearly existed, and record producer John Fletcher stepped in to fill the void that Opera Disc’s forced departure created. Fletcher, in partnership Harry Pace, had launched the Fletcher Record Company in April 1922, primarily to serve as the pressing plant for Pace’s Black Swan records. Fletcher had already failed with his earlier Operaphone and Olympic operations, and things would not go much better for his latest venture. His newly relaunched Olympic label attracted little interest, and sales of Black Swan’s race records were declining in the face of stepped-up competition from Okeh and others. As production faltered, Fletcher began making the same sort of bad decisions that had doomed his previous companies.

In late December 1922, an unnamed party approached Harry Pace with a proposition that the Fletcher plant press records from “masters made by Caruso himself in Germany.” (Since Caruso never recorded in Germany, the reference almost certainly was to the Victor and Gramophone Company masters being held by DGG in Germany.) Pace wisely declined, writing to Black Swan investor W. E. B. Du Bois that he did so “for fear of legal entanglements with the Victor Company who are too powerful to start any scrap with.” [20]

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.Fletcher Record Company pressings from pirated Victor recordings, 1923. Harry Pace opposed the idea but was overruled by Fletcher.

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But Fletcher, who controlled the manufacturing end of the partnership, overruled him. The Fletcher Record Company would manufacture the illegal pressings, which featured Caruso and other exclusive Victor artists. They were marketed by one or more shadowy entities whose backers probably will never be known, under the Pan American and Symphony Concert labels. [21] The labels showed no manufacturer’s name, but the records exhibited all the tell-tale characteristics of Fletcher’s pressings and label typography. Some appear to use the original DGG stampers; many others used stampers that had obviously been electroplated from commercial pressings, and not very expertly. Efforts to efface the original markings weren’t entirely successful, some small pits and other surface irregularities appear that are not present on the originals, and in one case, what appears to have been a stray hair was electroplated right along with the disc.

If Victor had any response to the new pirates, it was never reported in the trade papers. It would prove to be a moot point, anyway. By the spring of 1923 (probably the soonest the records could have made it to market), the Fletcher Record Company was failing. Pace pulled out in June, transferring his Black Swan pressing business to the New York Recording Laboratories’ plant, and Fletcher was bankrupt by year’s end. By then, the Symphony Concert records were being remaindered by one New York dealer for 19¢ each.

Record piracy did not resurface in any significant way until the later 1940s, with the sudden proliferation of small independent pressing plants eager for business of any kind, no questions asked. These tended to be full-fledged counterfeiting operations, copying not just the recordings, but the actual labels as well. The problem became so widespread that in the autumn of 1947 the Treasury Department launched an investigation that soon expanded to include the FBI and any number of state and local agencies. Initially, only small independent labels were targeted (particularly those specializing in race records), but it was not long before counterfeit Deccas began to surface.

In early April 1948, officials of Capitol, Columbia, Decca, and RCA Victor agreed to help underwrite the investigation, which by then had become national in scope. [22] A few minor offenders were caught, but the counterfeiting continued unabated. With no major culprits apprehended, the investigation eventually wound down, leaving the problem to worsen considerably. In September 1951, Billboard reported that one operation based in the New York area, which had so far eluded all efforts at detection, was believed to be pressing more than 50,000 counterfeit discs weekly. [23]

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References

 

[1] Unrelated to the later Standard Talking Machine Company of Chicago, a premium-scheme operation that sold legally rebranded Columbia products.

[2] Details of this rather complicated arrangement can be found in the author’s A Phonograph in Every Home (Mainspring Press).

[3] Unrelated to Clinton Repp’s 1911 Vitaphone company, which manufactured a unique reproducerless phonograph, nor to the much Vitaphone sound-film system.

[4] “Rates for Exchanging Records to Club Members… How to Secure Free Life Membership in Exchange Club” (American Vitaphone Company bulletin, December 1, 1902).

[5] “Our Proposition Of You Are the Owner of an Old Style Gramophone Just Like This One.” ” (American Vitaphone Company bulletin, December 1, 1902).

[6] Victor Talking Machine Co. v. Armstrong et al., 132 F. 711

[7] Victor Talking Machine Company. U.S. trademark application #42,962 (filed June 9, 1904).

[8]  “Decision on Re-Duplication.” Talking Machine World (March 15, 1905), p. 11.

[9] Talk-O-Phone’s corporate predecessor, the Ohio Talking Machine Company, made original recordings in its Toledo studio during 1902–1903, employing Strobel’s Band (Charles J. Strobel being  president of the Toledo Baseball Club and the band’s financial backer, but not its director) and other local talent. In late 1903, at about the time of its reorganization as the Talk-O-Phone Company, it discontinued recording and instead began marketing the new Leeds & Catlin discs for use with its phonographs.

[10] “Recently Incorporated.” Talking Machine World (October 15, 1908), p. 19, repeated in an untitled notice on p. 32). The former gave the location as New Baltimore, Maryland, in error.

[11] Fonotipia et al. v. Bradley, 171 F. 951; Victor Talking Machine Co. v. Same, 171 F.951.

[12] Signs Decree in ‘Dubbing’ Case.” Talking Machine World (September 15, 1909), p. 45.

[13] “Phonograph Discs “Made in Germany.’” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (May 18, 1921), p. 16.

[14] “Incorporated.” Talking Machine World (February 15, 1921), p. 54.

[15] Opera Disc Co. “Musica G.D.” U.S. trademark filing #145,643 (filed April 2, 1921). The filing claimed use of the Musica name on records since March 25, 1921.

[16] “Asks Record Injunction.” New York Times (December 10, 1921), p. 19.

[17]  “German Record Concerns Enjoined.” Talking Machine World (May 15, 1922), p. 61.

[18] “Hearing Held in the Victor Company–Opera Disc Company Suit.” Talking Machine World (March 15, 1922), p. 82.

[19] “Victor Co. Secures Injunction in Opera Disc Suit.” Talking Machine World (April 15, 1923), p. 106.

[20] Pace, Harry H. Letter to W. E. B. Du Bois (December 23, 1922). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts–Amherst. Largely forgotten today is the fact that Du Bois, perhaps as much as Pace, was a driving force in Black Swan’s creation. A major investor in the company, he was frequently consulted by Pace on matters ranging from financial and legal issues to artists and repertoire. Their correspondence, which survives but has been largely overlooked by researchers, presents a far more accurate picture of Black Swan’s inner workings than most modern texts.

[21] The Symphony Concert label was used earlier for legitimate pressings from Earle W. Jones’ masters, as well as being pasted over other companies’ surplus pressings. Examples are known of Symphony Concert labels pasted onto Opera Disc pressings, but other (presumably later) examples are clearly Fletcher’s work.

[22] “Major Diskers Crack Down on Coast Bootlegging of Hit Recordings.” Variety (April 7, 1948), p. 42.

[23]  Martin, Joe. “‘Disklegger’” Is Plague to Record Mfrs.” Billboard (September 1, 1951), p. 1.

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©2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

Shutting Down the Recording Industry: James Caesar Petrillo and the AFM Recording Ban (1942-1944)

Shutting Down the Recording Industry: James Caesar Petrillo and the AFM Recording Ban (1942-1944)
By Allan Sutton

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The following is an excerpt from the author’s Recording the ‘Forties,
in preparation for 2018 publication.

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For professional musicians who wanted to broadcast or record in the 1940s, membership in the American Federation of Musicians was essential. Among the few to resist was the Boston Symphony Orchestra, whose management was firmly opposed to unionization. Only under pressure from RCA’s David Sarnoff did the BSO’s management finally capitulate; the orchestra, under the direction of Serge Koussevitsky, was unionized and allowed to return to the RCA studios, after a long hiatus. But the BSO found itself almost immediately shut out again, this time by an industry-wide recording ban ordered by AFM president James Caesar Petrillo. [1]

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Petrillo testifies before the National War Labor Board (1943)

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Petrillo had long pursued a very public vendetta against what he termed “canned music,” blaming it for the downturn in  “live” performances. Widely reviled within the recording industry as an inflexible, obscenity-spewing petty dictator, he did not hesitate to employ strong-arm tactics against those who opposed him. In early 1941, he appointed Ben Selvin to undertake a fact-finding mission intended to prove that recorded music was responsible for the declining employment of union musicians. [2]

Selvin’s questionnaires, individualized for commercial record companies, transcription producers, radio stations, advertising agencies, and jukebox operators, were mailed throughout the spring. A long-time AFM member, Selvin delivered the figures Petrillo wanted. Based upon the initial responses, involving the radio-transcription business, he concluded, “The amount of money spent for musical talent on recorded [versus live] programs is much higher than anyone in the industry would have guessed.”  [3]

Petrillo made his case at the AFM’s convention on June 9, 1941. He contended that although AFM members earned approximately $3 million annually in royalties from recordings, they lost $100 million as the result of what he termed “reduced employment opportunities” from the substitution of recorded for live music:

There are 800 radio stations in the United States and Canada, and 550 of them have no live music. They just use canned music twenty-four hours a day. There is a question of who survives—we or they. If the stations can’t get records and won’t hire live bands, that will be their funeral, not ours… We are scabbing on ourselves.

Admitting he had no verifiable statistics to back up his claims, Petrillo nevertheless estimated that eight- to nine-thousand AFM musicians could be put back to work if recordings were banned  and establishments were forced to rely on live music.

The issue came to a head in June 1942, when Petrillo forced a strike by unwilling members of the Ringling Brothers–Barnum & Bailey Circus Band. Director Merle Evans’ assurance that he and his musicians were “perfectly satisfied” with salaries and working conditions were ignored, and John Ringling North’s request to personally negotiate with Petrillo went unanswered. [4] Petrillo’s  demands included higher wages, with time-and-a-half for Sunday performances, which were refused. After a brief postponement to allow the band to play a benefit for handicapped children, the strike order was enforced. “We wanted to play today,” Evans told a Billboard reporter on June 6, “but the union refused to let us.” Management responded by substituting recorded music over a public-address system during the band’s involuntary absence. [5] It apparently was lost on Petrillo that by ordering the strike, gainfully employed musicians had been replaced by recordings—the very situation he had recently railed against at the AFM conference.

Having successfully shut down a circus band, Petrillo next banned the broadcasting of a popular high-school music festival in Interlochen, Michigan, declaring that the teen-aged musicians were not union members. The action brought universal condemnation from the public, the broadcast industry, and members of Congress. Iowa Senator D. W. Clark filed a formal, if ineffectual, resolution charging Petrillo with depriving the students of their freedom to make their musical talents known, while undermining the national music education program. [6] Stanley E. Hubbard, president of station KSPT (St. Paul, Minnesota), issued a scathing denouncement of Petrillo that read in part,

Ten days ago, [Petrillo] forbade the broadcast…from the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Mich., in which 160 teen-age boys and girls from 40 states hoped to play for their folks at home. He stopped eight Chinese Boy Scouts from blowing a fanfare in Chicago unless eight union musicians were hired to stand by while the scouts tooted… That is the kind of power Fuehrer Petrillo wields today… That is the power, and that is the man, and that is the kind of outrageous tyranny which we and the other radio stations in this country…are fighting.” [7]

Undeterred, Petrillo was soon threatening to bar AFM musicians from making radio transcriptions. Key figures in the broadcast industry responded swiftly with a threat of their own. Five years earlier, broadcasters had informally agreed to retain house orchestras in response to Petrillo’s charge that their use of recorded music was causing widespread unemployment of union musicians. Now, Broadcasting magazine predicted,

If transcriptions and recordings are banned, as ordered by Mr. Petrillo, it is generally expected that the [broadcast] industry, almost as a unit, will be disposed to release staff orchestras, since the gentlemen’s agreement will have been violated… In a nutshell, the overall view appears to be that AFM has walked out on its 1937 agreement by banning transcription performance, and that the next move is up to Mr. Petrillo. [8]

Petrillo’s next move was to threaten a strike that had the potential to destroy a recording industry already crippled by wartime personnel and materials shortages. On June 27, 1942, he served notice to all transcription and record companies that he intended to ban recording by union musicians beginning on August 1. [9] The New York Times reported,

As part of a campaign to force radio stations, soda fountains, bars and restaurants to employ union musicians instead of using recordings, Mr. Petrillo has informed all the record manufacturers that the 140,000 members of his A.F. of L. organization will not make “records, electrical transcriptions or any other form of electrical reproduction of music” after July 31…

Even if Mr. Petrillo’s economics were not fantastic, it is intolerable that a labor leader should dicatate to the American people what kind of music it shall or shall not hear. But if we need waste little time in exposing the nonsense in Mr. Petrillo’s economics, we should waste less in denouncing Mr. Petrillo as an individual. It is much more important to remind ourselves that it is our political muddle-headedness and spinelessness that have made the Petrillo type of dictator possible. [10]

Petrillo agreed informally to exempt the production of transcriptions for the armed forces and government agencies involved in the war effort, although he soon reneged on even that meager concession. Recordings for motion-picture soundtracks would be allowed, provided that the recordings did not find their way onto the airwaves or commercially issued records. Private recording for home use was allowed to continue under the ban, but only if the manufacturers of recording blanks guaranteed the records would not be broadcast or used in jukeboxes—an obvious impossibility. Blanks and portable recording units remained readily available, and an underground market soon sprang up for custom-duplicated discs from private recording sessions, live performances, and broadcast captures.

There would be no immediate concessions from the record companies, nor full-fledged support from most AFM musicians. Black band-leaders in Philadelphia loudly protested the ban, claiming a potential loss of a half-million dollars in income. [11] In New York, Eli Oberstein recruited union musicians for clandestine hotel-room recording sessions, the results of which were issued on his Hit label under some imaginative aliases. Some small labels turned to non-union talent, giving at least a temporary  boost to some rural and African-American artists the AFM had declined to accept.

Record-company executives, according to the New York Times, were content “to sit back and try to outwait Mr. Petrillo,” allowing the mounting public outrage to work in their favor. Directors and officials of the National Association of Broadcasters met informally with record company executives to plan their strategies, but apparently neither group felt any compulsion to meet with Petrillo.

The record companies were allowed to continue manufacturing and selling their pre-ban recordings, so with the strike looming, they scrambled to stockpile enough new material to sustain them during the work stoppage. “This they did on a 24-hour-per-day schedule,” Billboard reported; “when August 1 arrived, they emerged from their studios with enough masters to last well into 1943.” [12] The same article predicted a return to normal recording operations around January 1943, “assuming that all goes as expected.” It did not.

The Justice Department failed in a last-minute attempt to delay the ban, but Petrillo’s actions quickly drew fire from members of Congress. Senator Clark, still seething over the Interlochen incident, took the floor on August 29 to denounce Petrillo as a thug whose actions jeopardized national morale during a time of crisis:

An ugly note has reared its head, causing great disunity in the war effort. That ugly note is a gentleman by the name of James Caesar Petrillo. By virtue of his power, by virtue of his gangster acts, if you please, he undertakes to put out of business a whole industry and prevent working people in that industry from making a living.” [13]

At Clark’s urging, a Senate resolution was drafted empowering the Interstate Commerce Commission to investigate whether the recording ban constituted restraint of trade under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. [14]  AFM’s counsel moved for dismissal on the grounds that anti-trust laws did not apply to label disputes; the Department of Justice countered with a request for an injunction forbidding the AFM to enforce the ban, which was denied.  As the ban dragged on, the case was referred to the Supreme Court, which in February 1943 upheld a lower-court decision that the ban was merely a labor dispute, and thus not covered under the Sherman act. [15]

Of the major consumer publications, only Life magazine sided with Petrillo. Robert Coughlan’s fawning, six-page feature article, published two days after the recording ban took effect, depicted Petrillo as a rough but good-hearted defender of the working class who was only looking out for his “boys.” [16] Coughlan was largely alone in his assessment. Three weeks after his story appeared, the American Institute of Public Opinion released the results of a George Gallup poll concerning Petrillo and the AFM action. Seventy-five percent of participants said they opposed the ban, and seventy-three percent favored intervention by the federal government. Dr. Gallup reported,

A majority of those who disapprove Petrillo’s actions feel strongly, even vehemently, about the subject. Typical of their views were such statements as, “he’s a petty dictator,” “he’s suffering from a bad case of overgrown ego,”  “it’s disgraceful,” and “he ought to go over and join Mussolini.” [17]

Some small-label producers attempted to negotiate with Petrillo, to no avail. Hazard E. Reeves (Reeves Sound Studios) and E. V. Brinckerhoff (Brinckerhoff Studios) launched a trade association comprising thirteen New York–area recording studios that Reeves felt would give them a negotiating advantage. [18] So far as is known, they received no acknowledgment  from Petrillo. Neither, initially, did Muscicraft president Paul Puner. In February 1943, he attempted to contact Petrillo with a proposal that Musicraft, as a small company, be allowed to pay a lower royalty rate than what Petrillo was demanding, in return for which Musicraft would affirm its support of the AFM’s basic principles. [19]

After receiving no response, Puner followed up on March 11 with a letter requesting a prompt reply. Petrillo’s reply was a curt rejection letter. [20] Puner persisted, next dispatching what Billboard termed an “impassioned wire” to Petrillo offering to negotiate with him under any circumstances, at a date of Petrillo’s choosing. This time Puner received a note stating the matter would be referred to the AFM’s International Executive Board on April 15. [21] Eventually Puner received a final rejection from Petrillo, who dismissed the offer as “peanuts.” [22]  Clearly, Petrillo was not looking to negotiate settlements on a company-by-company basis. [23]

The major labels at first seemed well-positioned to weather what they expected to be a short strike. For a time they made-do by drawing down their stockpiles of new masters, combing the vaults for unissued pre-strike recordings, and reissuing vintage material, including re-pressings of some 1920s jazz classics. But as the strike dragged on, they were forced to become more creative. In mid-January 1943, Billboard reported that Decca was about to release the last of its pre-ban masters, and speculated that Victor and Columbia might to have to follow suit. [24] With no more new material to offer, Decca’s solution was to resume recording, substituting vocal ensembles (vocalists generally not being AFM members, and thus not legally bound to honor the strike) for instrumental backing. The idea was soon being copied by Columbia, Victor, and a host of minor labels.

“The wholly vocal disks are not being taken seriously as a long-term substitute,” Billboard reported. [25] But  they infuriated Petrillo, who resorted to his usual strong-arms tactics in an attempt to stem the flow. “Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and other leading vocalists have been contacted,” he told a reporter, “and have promised AFM they won’t make records.” [26] Petrillo next  stepped up pressure on the recording-studio directors.  In June 1943, he summoned Muzak’s Ben Selvin and RCA’s Leonard Joy before the board of Local 802 to demand they take no actions “against the best interests of the union.” A Billboard reporter observed,

Although AFM officials made no threats, their “requests” can be quickly enforced, as arrangers and copyists employed for vocal waxings are AFM members. The union has made it plain that it expects cooperation from all its members, and indicated that practically all the record and transcription firms have executives who hold union cards. [27]

One producer refused to be cowed. New band recordings continued to flow on Eli Oberstein’s Hit label, although they were not by any recognizable groups. One anonymous informant, identified in a 1976 interview only as “the music director of a major label,” remembered participating in a clandestine Oberstein session:

One day I found this ad for an arranger… I was told to report to a certain room at the Hotel Claridge at nine that night…and there was Eli Oberstein. In the room with him was a nine-piece orchestra and a disc cutter. Eli had hung blankets over the windows so that the noise from the street wouldn’t be too loud and had stuffed towels under the door so that we wouldn’t bother other guests. Between nine and six the following morning, that band must have cut a dozen hit tunes. I sat right there and did the arrangements, and they sight-read them. Eli paid us all in cash as we left. I don’t know who those guys were, but they were good. [28]

The records were attributed to such apparently fictitious band-leaders as Johnny Jones, Peter Piper, and Willie Kelly, [29] leading to a popular guessing game among record reviewers (and later, discographers) as to who was actually responsible. In his later years, Pee Wee Irwin reportedly admitted that, being short of cash at the time, he had taken a risk and directed the “Willie Kelly” sessions for Oberstein. [30]

The band recordings caught the attention of Petrillo, who questioned whether Oberstein had obtained AFM clearance to record the titles. But it was Arthur Fields’ vocal rendition of “Der Fuehrer’s Face” on the Oberstein’s Hit label [31] that sparked what would become an epic clash between Oberstein and the AFM. The record included a sparse instrumental backing, placing it within the AFM’s jurisdiction. Oberstein initially claimed that it was a pre-ban recording made with a “local pickup crew.” [32] He also insisted that “Arthur Fields” was simply “a name that’s been used for house dates for years,” which was not entirely without some basis in fact. [33] When that explanation failed to satisfy AFM officials, Oberstein changed his story dramatically. The masters, he said, had come from Mexico, leading insiders to joke that he must mean Mexico, New Jersey. [34] “Call it bootlegging,” Oberstein told Down Beat magazine, “but it’s legal.” [35]

Oberstein apparently did have connections with one or more Mexican studios, as evidenced by the earlier release of some Mexico City recordings on his Varsity label. But “Der Fuehrer’s Face” appeared to be from the same American studio as Hit’s pre-ban recordings, and the voice was unmistakably that of Arthur Fields, a New Yorker who was unlikely to have journeyed south of the border just to cut record. [36]

Oberstein’s tale failed to convince the officials of AFM Local 802, who summoned him before the board to demand he reveal the names of the musicians involved. Oberstein ignored the summons and was given until October 22, 1942, to either face the board or be judged “guilty without explanation.” [37] The outcome was eagerly awaited by industry officials, some of whom expressed hope that Oberstein would successfully defy the union. [38]  They would be disappointed.

Examination of the union logs failed to reveal any evidence that “Der Fuehrer’s Face” had been recorded prior to the ban. Finally facing the AFM board on October 22, Oberstein elaborated on his revised tale, claiming the masters had been purchased by an unnamed “associate” from an unknown Mexican studio through one Manuel Valdez, who was not available to corroborate the story because he was “on his way back to Mexico.” [39] Oberstein went on to claim that Victor and Decca were also obtaining many of their pop-tune recordings  from Mexican studios, which officials of both companies vehemently denied. [40]

On December 24, Oberstein submitted to another grilling by the AFM board, at which he agreed to turn over a list of all masters he supposedly had obtained from Mexico. It was not forthcoming, but in the meantime, union officials were investigating some suspicious artist credits on Oberstein releases that had them “scratching their heads,” according to a Billboard report. No one had heard of Oberstein’s mysterious new band leaders, and their names did not appear on Local 802’s membership rolls. The break for Petrillo came after it was discovered that “Peter Piper” was identified on the union rolls as a pseudonym for Jack Small, who was immediately summoned to testify before the AFM’s trial board. [41]

Petrillo finally had his evidence that Eli Oberstein was secretly recording with union musicians, in defiance of the AFM ban. Oberstein was expelled from the union in June 1943, on the grounds that his continued release of instrumental recordings was “damaging to the interests of the Federation.” [42] Having vanquished Oberstein, Petrillo went after his associates. Nineteen music publishers whose songs had been recorded by Hit during the ban were summoned to Petrillo’s office. There, they were pressured into withholding recording rights from any company (like Classic Records, the maker of Hit) whose operations were deemed “unfair” by the union. [43]

However, Petrillo largely failed in his attempts to intimidate the transcription companies. Many were involved in work for the war effort and could rely on support from Congress, which had already made clear its disdain for Petrillo. Having reneged on his early promise not to interfere with war-related transcription work, Petrillo found himself facing a group of influential executives who charged him with bypassing governmental agencies. They asked that the matter be referred to the National War Labor Board. Just hours after the executives released their statement on June 23, 1943, Petrillo agreed to accept mediation, narrowly avoiding intervention by the board.

Petrillo brushed off his defeat at a press conference, dismissing the transcription business as too small to be of any interest to the AFM. [44]  Several month later, V-Disc director Robert Vincent, with the backing of Pentagon officials, began applying pressure to Petrillo to exempt the V-Disc recording program from the AFM  ban. Petrillo finally acquiesced on October 27, 1943, but only after insisting on a long list of conditions.

In the meantime, negotiations between AFM officials and a committee comprising representatives of CBS, Decca, and RCA had broken down. However, Decca attorney Milton Diamond continued to meet privately with Petrillo. [45] On September 18, 1943, president Jack Kapp announced that Decca and its World Broadcasting subsidiary had signed four-year contracts with the AFM that would allow them to  resume recording immediately. [46]  The terms were not immediately disclosed, although within the month Petrillo let it be known that they included payment of a percentage of Decca’s gross revenue directly to the AFM. [47] The proceeds—later revealed to be a flat half-cent royalty per new recording sold—were to be held in an “employment fund” that was intended to finance make-work projects for AFM members deprived of “normal employment opportunities” because of competition from recorded music. [48]

Capitol Records, which had barely begun operations before the ban was enacted, capitulated on October 9, agreeing to the same terms as Decca. [49] Four independent transcription companies signed slightly modified agreements several weeks later, amidst charges from the National Association of Broadcasters that the payment plans were “as economically and socially unsound as extortion is immoral and illegal.” [50]

With the prospect of Decca and Capitol dominating the pop-record market, industry observers predicted a rush by other labels to sign with the AFM. Within a matter of months, virtually all had done so, leaving RCA and Columbia as the last significant holdouts. “Privately,” Broadcasting magazine reported, “industry leaders made no bones about their feeling that had been ‘sold out’ and are now ‘over a barrel.’” [51]

In April 1944, attorneys for RCA and Columbia called for the War Labor Board to allow their companies to resume recordings, pending a challenge to the AFM’s “employment fund” provision. When a meeting between record-company and AFM officials ended in a stalemate, more-radical solutions (including a temporary government takeover of the Columbia and RCA facilities) were floated in some quarters. [52]

Facing rapidly escalating pressure from politicians and industry officials, the National War Labor Board ordered an end to the recording ban on June 15, which went unheeded. At a show-cause hearing held on August 18, Petrillo refused to comply with order, and the case was referred to the Office of Economic Stabilization for enforcement. President Roosevelt finally weighed in on October 4, 1944, declaring in a strongly worded telegram to Petrillo,

It is the opinion of the Director of Economic Stabilization that under all the present circumstances, the noncompliance by your union is not unduly impeding the war effort. But this noncompliance may encourage other instances of noncompliance which will impede the war effort… Therefore, in the interest of respecting the considered decision of the Board, I request your union to accept the directive orders of the National War Labor Board. What you regard as your loss will certainly be your country’s gain.” [53]

However, it would not be the AFM’s loss. After considering the matter for a week, Petrillo rejected the president’s request in a rambling nine-page response. Since nearly every other record and transcription company had already settled with the AFM, Petrillo declared, he saw no reason to offer any concessions to the final holdouts, for whom the ban remained in effect. [54] With no viable alternatives left, Columbia and RCA (including the latter’s NBC Thesaurus division) finally capitulated to Petrillo’s demands on the evening of Saturday, November 11, 1944, with a formal signing set for the following Monday.

After a twenty-eight–month hiatus, RCA resumed commercial recording activities on Sunday, November 12, at 1:43 pm. Columbia followed suit six hours later. [55] RCA recording manager James W. Murray conceded, “We had no alternative but to meet the demands that we make direct payment to the union’s treasury or to abandon our record business.”

Columbia’s Edward Wallerstein fixed the blame firmly on Washington, declaring, “We are finally accepting because of the government’s unwillingness or incapacity to enforce its orders.” [56] Although Petrillo denied that the contracts offered to CBS and RCA were punitive, they contained clauses not found in those the AFM had signed with other companies, including a provision allowing artists to cancel their recording contracts in the event of another AFM strike.

In the end, industry experts estimated that the AFM ban had done little damage to most record companies, and might actually have helped some. There had been no significant decline in record sales or profits during the first two years of the ban. The lack of significant growth was attributed more to wartime shortages, and the fact that a vast number of record customers were out of  the market until their enlistments ended, than to the ban. In addition, Capitol and other promising newcomers had gained a competitive edge by signing early with the AFM and resuming production while the two industry behemoths remained locked in battle with Petrillo. [57] The end of the ban also marked the beginning of a shift by start-up companies to the West Coast, where support for the AFM was relatively weak and non-union talent plentiful. Recording companies large and small were about to enjoy an unprecedented boom, but Petrillo was not finished with them yet.

 

© 2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

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Notes

[1] O’Connell, Charles. The Other Side of the Record, pp. 260-261. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (1947).

[2] Selvin, who had begun his recording career in the late ’teens as the director of a popular dance orchestra, was by this time the vice-president of Associated Music Publishers, and a long-time member of the American Federation of Musicians.

[3] “Cost of Record Music Talent Is Found Above Expectations.” Broadcasting (April 14, 1941), p. 54.

[4] “Settlement Talk Rumored After RB Drops Band in Pay Dispute.” The Billboard (June 13, 1942), p. 38. The strike involved the main circus band, under Merle Evans’ direction, as well as the smaller sideshow band directed by Arthur Wright.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Senate Quiz on Petrillo; Clark and Vandenberg Hits Music ‘Tyranny’ by AFM.” Billboard (September 5, 1942), p. 62.

[7] “Hubbard Labels Petrillo as ‘Fuehrer’ of Musicians, Seeking to Wreck Radio.” Broadcasting (July 27, 1942), p. 8.

[8] “Industry Remains Calm on Petrillo Ban.” Broadcasting (July 13, 1942), p. 12.

[9] “Highlights of the Petrillo Recording Ban that Went Before; From 1942 to 1944.” Billboard (November 1, 1947), p. 20.

[10] “Mr. Petrillo Gives the Word.” New York Times (July 10, 1942), reprinted in Broadcasting (July 13, 1942), p. 12.

[11] “Hubbard Labels Petrillo as ‘Fuehrer’ of Musicians,” op. cit.

[12] “Shellac Shortage, Petrillo and War Have Little Fellows Groggy.” Billboard (August 29, 1942), p. 19.

[13] “Senate Quiz on Petrillo,” op. cit.

[14] “D of J Must Prove That AFM Conspires; ‘Labor Disputes’ Can’t Be Hit By Trust Laws.” Billboard (August 1, 1942), p. 19.

[15] “Chronological Chart of Events in the A.F.M. Tecord Ban.” The Billboard 1944 Music Yearbook, p. 147.

[16] Coughlan, Robert. “Petrillo.” Life (August 3, 1942), pp. 68–70, 72, 74, 76.

[17] “75% of People Against Petrillo.” Billboard (September 5, 1942), p. 62.

[18] “Independents Form Record Association.” Broadcasting (August 10, 1942), p. 58.

[19] “Tiny Disker Tries to Steal Play from Big Firms with Petrillo Personally, But No Dice.” Billboard (April 3, 1943).

[20] “AFM Rejects Plan.” Broadcasting (March 29, 1943). P. 52.

[21] “Musicraft Asks Petrillo Again, Get Second ‘No.’” Billboard (April 10, 1943), p. 22

[22] Chasins, Gladys. “Recording Ban Grows Tighter; Vocalists Agree to Stop Recording Until AFM Lifts Ban.” Billboard (July 3, 1943).

[23] “Petrillo Won’t Settle Individually with Discers; April 15 Meeting Set.” Variety (March 31, 1943), p. 35.

[24] “Petrillo Stands Pat.” Billboard (January 16, 1943), p. 20.

[25] “Tune Pile Getting Low.” Billboard (October 31, 1942), p. 62.

[26] Chasins, op. cit.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Quoted in Angus, Robert: “Pirates, Prima Donas, and Plain White Wrappers.” High Fidelity (December 1976). An attempt by record researcher George Blacker in the 1980s to discover the anonymous music directors’ identity was unsuccessful.

[29] Pee Wee Irwin reportedly told writer Roy Evans that he was responsible for the Willie Kelly side

[30] Evans, Roy. Undated letter to George Blacker. William R. Bryant Papers, Mainspring Press.

[31] Hit 7023, released on October 14, 1942.

[32] “Big Recording Whodunit; 802 to Investigate Oberstein’s Recording of Mysterious Bands.” Billboard (October 17, 1942), p. 20.

[33] “802 No Savvies New ‘Hit’ Discs of Current Pops.” Metronome (November 1942), p. 8. Fields (nee Finkelstein) was one of the most prolific studio singers of the 1920s, and his name had been used on occasion as a cover for Fred Hall’s band, as well as other groups that remain to be identified. He was largely forgotten by 1942; so much so, that some reporters failed to recognize the voice and thus accepted Oberstein’s suggestion that the name was fictional. A Billboard article on November 28, 1942, stated, “Admittedly, the name carrying the billing is merely a handy handle for label purposes.”

[34] “Whither Disk Biz, Petrillo?” Billboard (July 26, 1947), p. 23.

[35] “Discs Cut in Mexico, Says EO.” Down Beat (November 1, 1942); clipping, n.p.

[36] In a bizarre twist, Fields claimed not have made the recording  (despite indisputable aural evidence to the contrary) and reportedly sued for an injunction halting distribution and sales of the record (“Now Oberstein Says Discs Are Mexican.” Billboard, October 31, 1942, p. 21). Further references to the supposed suit have not been found, and based on the large number of surviving copies of Hit 7023, it seems unlikely an injunction was granted.

[37] “Discs Cut…,” op. cit.

[38] “Big Recording Whodunit,” op. cit.

[39] “Oberstein Defends Records.” Billboard (October 31, 1942), p. 62.

[40] Ibid.

[41] “Oberstein’s ‘Peter Piper’ May Be 802’s Jack Small; Union Wants Some Answers.” Billboard (January 16, 1943), p. 20.

[42] Oberstein was later readmitted to the union, but only after threatening a half-million dollar defamation suit against Petrillo, the AFM, and its officers, raising fears that “a lot of dirty linen will be washed in public” (“Obie Planning 500G Suit”; Billboard, July 10, 1943). Classic Records’ recording license was restored in early November 1943 (“AFM Okays Classic Recording License;” Billboard, November 13, 1943, p. 16).

[43] “Calls on Pubs to Put Screws on Black Market Recorders.” Billboard (June 5, 1943), p. 21.

[45] Robertson, Bruce.“Disc Meeting Discusses Performance Fee.” Broadcasting (August 9, 1943), p. 12.

[46] “Petrillo’s Permission.” Motion Picture Herald (September 25, 1943), p. 8. The AFM contracts signed by Decca, World, and the many companies that followed were effective as of January 1, 1944, but Petrillo allowed them to resume recording immediately upon signing.

[47] Robertson, Bruce. “Other Disc Firms May Yield to AFM Pact.” Broadcasting (October 4, 1943), p. 9.

[48] Ibid.

[49] “Capitol Records Signs with AFM.” Broadcasting (October 18, 1943), p. 60.

[50] “NAB Hits AFM Fees; Four Disc Firms Sign.” Broadcasting (October 25, 1943), p. 9.

[51] Robertson, “Other Disc Firms,” op. cit.

[52] “Editorial: Jimmy’s Opportunities.” Broadcasting (October 9, 1944), p. 44.

[53] “FDR Telegram to Petrillo.” Broadcasting (October 9, 1944).

[54] “Chronological Chart of Events in the A.F.M. Record Ban,” op cit.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Stone, Floyd E. “Victorious Caesar Petrillo Talks; Hollywood Waits.” Motion Picture Herald (November 18, 1944), p. 13.

[57] “Ban Background and Effects.” Billboard 1944 Music Year Book, p. 146.

The Chicago Premium-Scheme Labels Revisited (1904 – 1920)

The Chicago Premium-Scheme Labels Revisited
(1904 – 1920)
By Allan Sutton

 

In 1902, the Victor Talking Machine Company began producing inexpensive Type P “Premium” phonographs that retailers could give away as an incentive to purchase other merchandise. There had been similar premium schemes earlier, employing both disc and cylinder machines as the bait, but Victor’s machines were the first to enjoy any significant popularity. Unlike later premium-scheme models, the Type P played standard records.

Beginning in 1904, several Chicago distributors took the idea a step further, employing a tied-products model (sometimes referred to as the “razor-and-blade ploy”). The phonographs were modified in various ways, most often with nonstandard spindles or mandrels, to ensure that they were compatible only with the matching records. They usually were the manufacturers’ cheapest or discontinued models, given new brand names. According to the distributors’ sales pitch, any loss the dealer took by giving the machines away would quickly be recouped by sales of the compatible, high-margin records to a captive audience.

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ROBERT JOHNS AND THE STANDARD TALKING MACHINE COMPANY

The first to successfully exploit the tied-product models on a large scale was the Chicago-based Standard Talking Machine Company. Launched in 1904, and it was advertising nationally by December of that year. In reality, as later court records make clear, Standard Talking Machine was simply a trade name of Robert Johns, a jobber in pottery and other household goods who was affiliated with the East Liverpool China Company of East Liverpool, Ohio. Standard initially occupied offices at 196–202 Monroe Street and was unrelated to several other identically named firms. (An identically named company was incorporated in Chicago in March 1905, with a meager capitalization of $2,500, but none of its incorporators are persons known to have been associated with Johns’ operation, and its connection, if any, remains unclear.)

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Early Standard ads, from (top to bottom) December 1904, January 1905, and March 1905. These dealers gave away the machines with the purchase of other merchandise; later offers often required the purchase of two-dozen or more Standard records to receive the free machines. Standard’s first phonograph offering, shown here, was Columbia’s bare-bones Model AU; refitted with a ½” spindle, it became the Standard Model AA. More-substantial models were soon made available.

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East Liverpool China was a major manufacturer of tableware and crockery. Much of its output was employed in premium schemes, being given away to stimulate the sale of more profitable items. Johns would employ that model for Standard Talking Machine, offering a free phonograph to individual customers or dealers who purchased a specified number of discs. (Terms of the plans varied considerably, and retailers at first had some leeway to set their own conditions. in later years, Standard also wholesaled the discs outright, unencumbered by any “free” phonograph offers.) The phonographs employed oversized (½”) spindles to thwart the use of ordinary pressings, forcing owners to purchase Standard discs. That was the theory, at least; in reality, there were some fairly easy work-arounds, the simplest of which involved simply drilling-out ordinary discs to fit the oversized spindles.

American Graphophone (Columbia) supplied the records and phonographs, which were rebranded with the Standard name. The phonographs were obsolete or low-end Columbia models with slight modifications, the most obvious being the oversized spindles.

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A rare, early sunken-label Standard 7″ pressing (left), with Standard’s conditions sticker pasted over the Columbia original (right). Produced only briefly, the sunken-label pressings used delicate, tissue-thin labels that that were original to the discs (i.e., not paste-overs).

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Standard originally offered both 7″ and 10″ black-and-silver label single-sided discs, using the same catalog numbers as the corresponding Columbia issues. The 7″ series was phased out after Columbia discontinued production of small-diameter discs in 1906. The black-and-silver (and later, black-and-gold) labels were applied at the time the discs were pressed, disproving the widely circulated tale that all Standard records were simply relabeled dead stock. The later Standard catalogs, in particular, were reasonably up-to-date, sometimes lagging Columbia’s release of a new title by just a few months.

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Contrary to some hobbyists’ accounts, Standard was not solely a dumping-ground for Columbia’s dead inventory (although it did serve that purpose admirably). Current hits sometimes turned up on Standard just a few months after they were released on Columbia. This 1914 Standard catalog includes new titles that Columbia released in the late spring of that year.

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There were, of course, plenty of relabeled surplus Columbia pressings as well, including many titles whose sales potential had long since been exhausted. They are easily distinguished by their slightly oversized labels (at first in green-and-white labels, later in black-and-white), which were pasted over the Columbia originals.

 

BUSY BEE AND THE O’NEILL-JAMES COMPANY

At about the same time that Robert Johns was organizing Standard Talking Machine, Columbia began supplying Arthur J. O’Neill with cylinder phonograph and records for use in premium schemes, under the Busy Bee trademark. The O’Neill-James Company (originally of 185 Dearborn Street, and later Fifth Avenue at Lake Street, Chicago) was founded by O’Neill, Winifred B. James, and Sherwin N. Bisbee, with an initial capital stock offering of $25,000. Incorporation papers for the O’Neill-James Company were filed with the Illinois Secretary of State on April 14, 1904, and the final certificate of incorporation was issued on April 22.

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A December 1904 ad for the Busy Bee cylinder phonograph, in this case given free with a $10 purchase. The machine was Columbia’s bottom-of-the-line Type Q, fitted with a nonstandard mandrel that prevented the use of ordinary cylinders. More-substantial models were later offered.

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O’Neill was a master of the tied-product model, having already employed it successfully in selling non-phonographic goods. In 1904, the O’Neill-James Company began marketing a slightly modified version of the inexpensive Columbia Model Q cylinder phonograph under the Busy Bee brand. By substituting a mandrel with a nonstandard taper, O’Neill was able to create a captive market for Busy Bee cylinders, which Columbia manufactured with a corresponding nonstandard inner taper. Following the same model, in late 1905 or early 1906 O’Neill-James introduced Busy Bee disc phonographs with a large, rigid rectangular lug projecting from the turntable, which required the use of special Busy Bee discs with a corresponding cut-out through the label area. This proved to be less effective than the cylinder design, since the lug could be removed from the turntable with a bit of effort.

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John O. Prescott (of Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott / American Record Company) belatedly filed his patent for pressing Busy Bee discs, with their characteristic rectangular slots, in January1907 — the same month that Columbia won its case against the American Record Company, effectively putting it out of business. Later Busy Bee discs were supplied by several other manufacturers, including Columbia (indirectly, by way of Hawthorne & Sheble minus Prescott).

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The sequence of Busy Bee’s suppliers can be determined from its catalogs and supplements. The earliest advertised Busy Bee discs were single-sided 7″ American Record Company (Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott) pressings, duplicating material from that company’s short-lived 7″ series, but pressed in standard black shellac rather than American’s distinctive blue. Busy Bee probably was the unnamed customer that The Talking Machine World reported had ordered a half-million 7″ pressings in February 1906. American Record’s Busy Bee releases included recordings made as early as 1904 (and some later Columbia-made releases used 1903 recordings), which has led some collectors to mistakenly assume that the label was introduced earlier than was actually the case.

American also supplied 10¾” (and, slightly later, 10″) Busy Bee pressings drawn from its catalog of 1904–1906, again pressed in standard black shellac. Some early 10¾” Busy Bee issues used the full American Record catalog numbers, but most used only the last four digits of the corresponding American issues (e.g., American Record Company 031129 = Busy Bee 1129). Like other American Record Company client-label pressings, these records often have spoken announcements that omit the artist and company credits.

Records from several suppliers appear concurrently in later Busy Bee catalogs, in different numerical blocks. Leeds & Catlin was a major supplier to Busy Bee and produced some of the highest-numbered 7″ issues. They also remade some issues that replaced the earlier American Record Company–derived versions, retaining the original titles and catalog numbers but often using different artists (much to the befuddlement of some early discographers).

Leeds’ 10″ single-sided Busy Bee issues (shown as “Grand Busy Bee Records” in the catalog, although not on the labels, and numbered in an A-prefixed series) used the same recordings as Leeds, Imperial, Sun, and related labels. They are easily recognized by Leeds’ mirror-image master-number stampings. Some of the same material was later issued in double-sided form in a short-lived D- prefixed catalog series, examples of which rank among the rarest Busy Bee issues. A wide outer band was added to labels on double-sided pressings to accommodate the disclaimers that normally appeared on the reverse-side stickers.

Masters in Busy Bee’s 2000, 3000, 4400, and 5000 catalog series are from Columbia, by way of Hawthorne & Sheble, which substituted their Star catalog numbers for Columbia’s along the way. The short-lived “Grand Busy Bee Twelve-Inch” series was from the same source, using the same 1200-series catalog numbers as Star, with the addition of a T- prefix. Most of the Columbia-derived Busy Bee discs were pressed in the Hawthorne & Sheble plant, on solid stock. A few late Star issues were laminated pressings,  almost certainly made by Columbia (which held the patent on that process) but still showing Hawthorne & Sheble’s markings and substitute catalog numbers in the wax. The Universal Talking Machine Company (Zonophone) also supplied pressing to Busy Bee for a short time before a Columbia lawsuit put an end to that relationship.

 

HARMONY AND THE GREAT NORTHERN MANUFACTURING COMPANY

Harmony, a new premium-scheme label, appeared in 1907. The records were originally marketed by the Great Northern Manufacturing Company (147–153 Fifth Avenue, Chicago), which actually was the recently reorganized East Liverpool China Company. Thus, the Harmony and Standard labels shared a common connection from the start, although at first they used different suppliers and distributors.

Great Northern marketed a wide array of crockery, tableware, and similar merchandise. Harmony records initially were part of a premium-scheme operation in which inexpensive phonographs were given free to retailers who purchased a certain quantity of Great Northern’s household goods. The company oversaw a network of traveling salesmen who peddled Harmony discs and the accompanying “free” phonographs to small-town and rural dealers. Complaints over deceptive advertisements and sales contracts were common, as exemplified by the 1911 case of Great Northern Mfg. Co. v. Brown, in which Great Northern was found guilty of misrepresentation and fraud in the wording of their advertising materials.

Harmony phonographs were manufactured with ¾” spindles, a ¼” step up from Standard. The records originally were pressed by Hawthorne & Sheble, using many of the same renumbered Columbia masters that appeared on Busy Bee. All known Hawthorne & Sheble-produced Harmony issues are single-sided pressings, with no artist credits on the labels. Hawthorne & Sheble also manufactured the early Harmony phonographs, which infringed patents on lateral recording and reproduction.

Hawthorne & Sheble’s Harmony series was discontinued in 1909, after H&S was forced into bankruptcy. Production for Great Northern was taken over by Columbia, which reintroduced Harmony as a double-sided brand, using the same couplings and catalog numbers as corresponding Columbia releases. The Columbia pressings included reissues of material recorded as early as 1903 and, unlike the earlier Hawthorne & Sheble series, they often credited the performers on the labels.

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An early Columbia-produced Harmony (left), still crediting the Great Northern Manufacturing Company; the anonymous baritone is veteran minstrel-show producer Lew Dockstader. Later versions of the Harmony label (right) credited the Harmony Talking Machine, a trade name of Robert Johns’ reorganized Standard Talking Machine Company.

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As with Standard, the labels usually were applied directly at the time of pressing, dispelling the notion that all Harmony records were relabeled surplus stock. However, many surplus Columbia pressings were also sold under Harmony paste-over labels. One of the most interesting examples is Paul Southe’s “Cubanola Glide,” the original Columbia issue of which was quickly replaced by a Collins & Harlan remake. The unsold Southe pressings ended up as anonymous Harmony paste-overs (and perhaps Standard as well, although we’ve not seen one). Southe’s “Cubanola Glide,” by the way, is not nearly the great rarity that Hobbies columnist Jim Walsh once made it out to be. A fair number of the original Columbia pressings apparently got into circulation before the delisting, and in addition to the paste-overs,  the recording even appeared later on the Climax and D&R labels, in entirely different couplings.

,Great Northern ended its involvement with the record business in late 1911. Although the company was still selling household goods late as January 1918, Harmony records from 1912 onward were marketed by the Harmony Talking Machine Company, a trade name of Robert Johns’ Standard Talking Machine Company.

 

THE BUSY BEE–TO–ARETINO TRANSITION

Although Busy Bee records continued to sell well during this period, the O’Neill-James Company’s reliance on distant, competing suppliers eventually led to the line’s downfall. Shipments from the East Coast pressing plants were often late, and O’Neill filed several lawsuits during 1908–1909 to recover damages and overcharges on rail shipments of the records. There were legal obstacles as well. In 1909, Victor sued Columbia for “the supplying of records to O’Neill-James Company of Chicago for use on infringing machines manufactured by Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company.” In turn, Columbia sued Victor’s Universal Talking Machine subsidiary to prevent it from supplying Zonophone pressings to O’Neill-James and Aretino. In the meantime, Leeds & Catlin had been forced to discontinue operations after losing to Victor in a patent-infringement suit that was decided in the latter’s favor by the Supreme Court.

With its supply line severed, O’Neill-James dropped the Busy Bee line in 1909. The last known advertisements for Busy Bee records appeared during the summer of that year. O’Neill-James continued to use the Busy Bee brand for vacuum cleaners and other household appliances for a time.

Busy Bee was not O’Neill’s only record venture, however. On June 3, 1907, he had launched The Aretino Company, which according to a Talking Machine World report was controlled by O’Neill-James. Aretino marketed phonographs equipped with massive 3″ spindles. They initially were supplied by the Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company, then later by Columbia. O’Neill’s patent application of April 11, 1907, covering the oversized spindle, as well as square and polygonal spindles that were never put into production, was granted on December 31, 1907. He also patented and sold adapters that allowed Aretino discs to be used on Busy Bee and ordinary turntables. Aretino’s gaping spindle holes reduced the labels to narrow bands with barely enough room for even basic label information.

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Arthur J. O’Neill’s 1907 patent on the Aretino disc, along with square- and hexagonal-spindle versions that were never produced. The specimen pictured is a scarce Leeds & Catlin double-sided pressing, produced just shortly before the company was forced out of business by an adverse Supreme Court decision in 1909.

 

The earliest known Aretino releases were anonymous, single-sided pressings from Leeds & Catlin masters, with A-prefixed catalog numbers (not to be confused with Columbia’s A-prefixed Double Discs). Leeds also produced a series of now-rare D-prefixed double-sided Aretino pressings shortly before suspending operations in 1909. Single-sided pressings from Hawthorne & Sheble matrices, showing Busy Bee catalog numbers in the pressing (which were simply renumberings of Columbia masters) have also been reported.

Ironically (considering that Victor had successfully sued Aretino for patent infringement in 1909), O’Neill turned to Victor’s Zonophone subsidiary as its source of pressings following Leeds & Catlin’s demise. The series was brought to a quick halt by the American Graphophone Company (Columbia), which in the same year sued Universal to prevent its supplying discs to Aretino, the O’Neill-James Company, and other companies whose machines infringed its patents.

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Aretino products were used in several different premium schemes. Some companies gave the machines away with the purchase of other merchandise (top). More often, they were given away with the purchase of a specified number of records (bottom). In the case shown here, the phonograph would not have been truly “free,” since the records were marked up by a total of $6.30 to partially compensate for the cost of the machine.

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After the O’Neill-James Company’s Busy Bee label was discontinued in 1909, the company took over distribution of Aretino records, although its name never appeared on the labels. With Zonophone, Hawthorne & Sheble, and Leeds & Catlin eliminated a suppliers, O’Neill was forced to turn to Columbia, which agreed to supply the records on consignment. Columbia pressed double-sided discs for Aretino in at least two series, both of which drew on standard Columbia masters: An A-prefixed series (which duplicated Columbia’s couplings and should not be confused with Leeds & Catlin’s earlier single-sided A-prefixed series), and a D-prefixed series (which used different couplings). Columbia also produced a few 12″ Aretino pressings. Some late Aretino pressings are known with ordinary spindle holes.

The last known advertisements for Aretino record appeared in the summer of 1915, shortly before O’Neill-James Company (which had recently become a Pathé distributor) was declared bankrupt on June 12. Post-mortem reports claimed that the company’s financial troubles had begun during 1906–1907, with losses incurred from patent litigation, and were compounded by the failure of the Boston Talking Machine Company (the makers of Phono-Cut records), for which O’Neill-James was a jobber.

Columbia filed suit in July 1915 to recover unsold records it had shipped on consignment to O’Neill-James. The petition was dismissed on December 7, and the company’s trustee requested permission to sell the remaining inventory. Some of the records found their way to the obscure Duplex Record Company (unrelated to the earlier Duplex Phonograph Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan), which filled the large center holes and covered over the patch with its own Duplex labels. Similar Aretino patch-up jobs have been seen with Musique labels.

O’Neill announced his intention to re-enter the record business, but nothing further was reported in that regard. Following his death in 1916, the remains of O’Neill James and Aretino businesses were merged with the Johns brothers’ Harmony, Standard, and United operations to form the Consolidated Talking Machine Company of Chicago.

 

DOUBLE AND REVERSIBLE

The D & R Record Company was the last significant new entrant in the Chicago premium-scheme market. Launched in 1908, it was advertising nationally by December of that year. The acronym stood for “Double and Reversible,” a strong selling point at a time when double-sided discs were making their first inroads. Early D & R ads promised that a “splendid talking machine” would be given away to advertise the new records:

We are not selling talking machines, but actually giving them away, without money and without price. We are doing this to quickly advertise and introduce our wonderful D&R (Double and Reversible) Talking Machine Records in every home. … Bear in mind that you simply agree to buy “D&R” Records as you need them — and the machine becomes yours without once cent of cost…. We are absolutely independent. Hence this remarkable offer. Our business is selling records — not machines.

D&R’s early advertising was often vague, with no mention of the strings attached to the free machine. Later D&R advertisements were more forthcoming, disclosing that the machines were indeed free, but only to customers who signed agreements to purchase from twelve to twenty D&R records, depending upon the model of phonograph desired.

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Early D&R advertisements were often vague regarding what was required to secure a “free” machine. This one, from 1909, mentions near the bottom of the ad that a monthly record purchase is required, but doesn’t state how many had to be purchased, or the price.

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Initially, D&R’s records were supplied by Leeds & Catlin, which had recently begun producing double-sided pressings for other client labels. After Leeds was forced to discontinue production in 1909, the label was turned over to Columbia. Unlike the other Chicago premium-scheme labels, the D&R discs were not “handicapped” in any way. They were pressed with ordinary spindle holes, and the artists were usually credited on the labels.

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An early Leeds & Catlin D&R (left). Much to the confusion of some discographers, Leeds retained the original Imperial single-face numbers on its couplings,one of which was chosen to serve as the D&R catalog number; thus, one side will be correctly numbered, while the other will not. For the specimen above, #45179 is actually the number of Henry Burr’s “Will the Angels Let Me Play,” on the reverse side. Columbia’s later D & R offerings included Paul Southe’s “Cubanola Glide,” which had been almost immediately dropped from Columbia’s own catalog in favor of a Collins & Harlan remake.

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D&R also differed from its counterparts in not using Columbia’s catalog numbers or couplings. Many D&R couplings — such as banjoist Vess L. Ossman’s tremendously popular “St. Louis Tickle” and “The Smiler,” each of which had been paired with negligible “filler” titles on Columbia — were more appealing than Columbia’s own. By the end of 1912, however, D & R was no more.

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THE STANDARD – HARMONY – UNITED CONSOLIDATION

While O’Neill-James was struggling, and D&R was just getting its foot in the door, Roberts Johns was building Standard Talking Machine into a major business with strong nationwide sales. He was now managing three premium-scheme operations operating out of three separate offices — the Standard, Harmony, and United Talking Machine companies.

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The latter was a newly added line, sporting 1½” spindles and spindle holes. Also supplied by Columbia, United offered basically the same material as Standard and Harmony. Its dealings were not always the most ethical, if the number of lawsuit filed against the company is any indication. The case of United Talking Machine Co. v. Metcalf (175 S.W. 357) reveals its selling methods. Like Harmony, United employed traveling salesmen who required retailers to sign binding sales contracts. For $20.80, dealers were supposed to receive 32 discs United records (paying the full list price of 65¢ per record), a “free” Symphony Hornless Talking Machine, and a package of 100 needles. Under terms of their contracts, United retailers were required to give away the machines to customers who purchased a specified number of records. The retailers were assured verbally (never in writing) that they would easily recoup their losses on the machine give-aways from sales of the matching discs. Dealers could also order individual records, without the “free” machines, for 39¢ each wholesale. However, as testimony in several lawsuits revealed, the contract terms were not always made clear to United’s customers (who were often rural shopkeepers with little business acumen), the records proved to be unsalable to owners of ordinary phonographs, and the “free” machines did not always arrive as promised.

Such complaints did nothing to stall the growth of the Standard, Harmony, and United operations, which in 1912 were finally consolidated in the Heiser Building at Dearborn and Harrison Streets in Chicago. The Standard Talking Machine Company was reorganized and incorporated in 1913 to manage all three lines, with Robert Johns handling the Standard and United divisions, and Thomas E. Johns handling Harmony. Although each marketed essentially the same merchandise, court records make it clear that the three divisions continued to maintain separate legal identities.

Labeling errors sometimes occurred after the 1912 consolidation. It is not uncommon, for example, to find pressings with Standard labels on one side and Harmony labels on the other. Around 1914, decorative concentric rings were added to the Harmony and Standard labels, spaced at the exact intervals to serve as drilling guides for those label’s larger spindle holes. In a final blurring of the lines, some late Standard issues were produced with regular spindle holes, some Harmony issues appeared with Standard holes, and some pressings carried Harmony labels on one side and Standard labels on the other.

Robert Johns died in February 1915, and Standard appears to have suspended operations a short time later.

 

THE CONSOLIDATED TALKING MACHINE COMPANY

 In January 1916, the Standard, Harmony, United, and Aretino operations were merged as the Consolidated Talking Machine Company. Operating at 227 West Lake Street (later, 227–229 West Washington Street) in Chicago, Consolidated advertised itself as “Successors to Standard Talking Machine Co., United Talking Machine Co., Harmony Talking Machine Co., O’Neill-James Co., Aretino Co.” It offered surplus inventory from those companies for several years, along with a repair service for obsolete premium-scheme machines and with its own line of Consola phonographs.

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Although the company soon introduced its own Consolidated label, it was still advertising surplus Standard, Harmony, and United pressings as late as 1918 when, amazingly, the retail price of those records was raised from 75¢ to $1 each, probably killing what few sales might otherwise have remained. Like the various lines they eventually replaced, Consolidated-label records were simply modified Columbia pressings, often with Consolidated labels pasted over the originals. Harmony-type pressings (¾” spindle hole) pressings seem to have been the default, but Consolidated records are also known with normal, ½” (Standard-type), and 1½” (United-type) spindle holes, reflecting the company’s commitment to supply records for nearly the full range of nonstandard-spindle machines (Busy Bee and Aretino being the notable exceptions).

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The once-orderly allocation of spindle-hole sizes became rather haphazard during Standard Talking Machine’s last days. The Harmony pressing above has a Standard (½”) hole rather than Harmony’s usual ¾” hole, with circular drilling guides for Harmony and United. Consolidated offered pressings to fit all of the Johns brothers’ obsolete premium-scheme machines, as well as ordinary phonographs. The late example shown here has typeset label information, which was typewritten or rubber-stamped on earlier labels.

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Consolidated’s couplings and catalog numbers were identical with those of the corresponding Columbia releases, but Columbia’s “A” prefixes often were dropped from the catalog numbers. The labels were cheaply printed, with a blank space for typed or rubber-stamped titles and credits (some late printings used typeset label information). Catalog numbers confirm that Consolidated continued to purchase and relabel Columbia pressings through at least early 1920. The records were later sold at a deep discount, but any remaining stock probably was destroyed when the Consolidated Building burned in January 1924.

In the meantime, the Consolidated Talking Machine Company had become affiliated with the General Phonograph Corporation (the makers of Okeh records), and it went on to become a major distributor for Okeh. Consolidated invoices and letterheads from the early 1920s state that the company was a “Manufacturer of Talking Machines, Repair Parts, Records, and Accessories and Distributor of Okeh Records, Bubble Books, and Granby Phonographs.”

Consolidated underwent a major shift in its method of operation in the early 1920s, as it became more closely affiliated with General Phonograph. Under E. A. Fearne’s expert management, the company became actively involved in recruiting and promoting Okeh’s race-record talent. Beginning in 1923 it provided space for Chicago’s Okeh studio, and a branch office for Ralph Peer, in the Consolidated Building. The last remnant of the Chicago premium-scheme operations, Consolidated Talking Machine Company finally closed in the early 1930s.

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If you enjoyed this posting, be sure to check out A Phonograph in Every Home: The Evolution of the American Recording Industry, 1900-1919, available from Mainspring Press. Quantities are limited — order soon.

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Selected References

Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Illinois (Fiscal Years Beginning October 1, 1902, and Ending September 30, 1904), p. 113. Springfield: Illinois State Journal Company (1905).

Blacker, George, William R. Bryant, et al. Busy Bee ephemera, research notes, and discographical data (unpublished, n.d.). William R. Bryant papers, Mainspring Press archive.

D & R (Double & Reversible) Talking Machine Records. (1909 catalog).

Grand Busy Bee Records — Catalog D (undated).

Great Northern Mfg. Co. v. Brown. Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (February 12, 1915). 113 Me. 51, 92 A. 993.

Johns v. Jaycox et al. March 9, 1912. 67 Wash. 403, 121 P. 854.

Johns v. Wilbur. May 28, 1915. 169 A.D. 905.

O’Neill, Arthur J., Assignor to the Aretino Company. “Talking Machine.” U.S. Patent #874,985 (filed April 11, 1907; issued December 31, 1907).

O’Neill-James Co. Grand Busy Bee Records, Catalogue D (n.d.).

Standard Talking Machine Co.: Standard Double-Disc Record Catalogue (1911–1914 inclusive).

United Talking Mach. Co. v. Metcalf. Court of Appeals of Kentucky (April 22,

Untitled obituary (Robert Johns). The Pottery & Glass Salesman (February 25, 1915), p. 29.

 

© 2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

 

 

 

Progress Report: “American Record Company and Producers, 1888 – 1950” (865 Entries, and Counting)

American Record Companies and Producers, 1888 – 1950:
Progress Report
By Allan Sutton

 

American Record Companies and Producers, 1888 – 1950 is on track to release online in mid-2018. For those of you not already familiar with the project, it covers in detail all American companies and producers of commercial recordings (cylinder and disc) from the beginning of commercial record production in the 1880s to the start of LP era in 1950.

Unlike my earlier American Record Labels and Companies, this work focuses primarily on the companies themselves. The label information is still there, of course, but is now incorporated within the entries on each label’s respective producer.

Not  covered are non-commercial and special-use recordings (radio transcriptions, film sound-track discs, audition recordings, etc.); children’s labels and educational or instructional records; one-off promotional or personal records, etc. You will find numerous jukebox-only labels, record divisions set up by schlocky music publishers to plug tunes the major labels wouldn’t take, and short-lived ventures whose only purpose seems to have been to sell off their masters to larger companies as quickly as possible, deposit the check, and shut down.

You’ll also meet a colorful cast of characters, ranging from the industry’s true heroes to an American Nazi, a Soviet spy, a four-time loser who just didn’t know when to quit, any number of record pirates, and a Texas furniture dealer-turned-studio owner who ran for president on an eerily familiar “throw the Washington bums out and let us real smart business guys run the country” platform (he lost; folks weren’t quite so gullible back then).

Plans are for this to be an online-only publication, because of the opportunity afforded to revise and expand on-the-fly, something essential with a work of this scope and magnitude. Headings to each entry include date range for record production, office and studio addresses, master sources, pressing plants used, and labels  produced. Entries range from several paragraphs to twenty pages, and full source citations (mainly primary-source) appear in each. There are no plans to illustrate the work at the moment, but that’s always an option as things evolve.

As of today, the following 865 entries are essentially “complete” and in final fact-checking and editing (an additional 125 entries not listed here are still in various stage of completion):

 

A-1 RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   A-1 RECORDS OF AMERICA  (Discs)  •   ABBEY RECORD CORPORATION / ABBEY RECORDS, INC. / PETER DORAINE, INC.  (Discs)   •   ACME RADIO & RECORD CORPORATION, et al.  (Discs)   •   ADMIRAL RECORDS, INC. / ADAM RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ADVANCE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ADVENTURE RECORD COMPANY / ADVENTURE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ADVERTISER PUBLISHING COMPANY, LTD.  (Discs)   •   ADVERTISERS RECORDING SERVICE, INC.  (Discs)   •   AEOLIAN COMPANY, THE  (Discs)   •   AETNA MUSIC CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   AGUILA RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ALABAMA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   ALADDIN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ALBEN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ALCO RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ALCO RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ALERT RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ALEGENE SOUND AND RADIO COMPANY / ALGENE RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   ALLEGRO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ALLENDER RECORD DISTRIBUTORS  (Discs)   •   ALLENTOWN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ALLIED (PHONOGRAPH AND) RECORD MANUFACTURING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ALPHA RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ALVIN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   AM RECORDS / AMERICAN MUSIC  (Discs)   •   AMBASSADOR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN ELITE, INC. (Discs)   •   AMERICAN GLOSSITE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, ARTS AND DRAMA  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN JAZZ, INC.  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN ODEON CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY   •   AMERICAN PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   AMERICAN RECORD COMPANY (I)  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORD COMPANY (II)  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY (I)  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY (II)  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORDING AND TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORDING ARTISTS / ARA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN TALKING MACHINE COMPANY [I]  (Cylinders)   •   AMERICAN TALKING MACHINE COMPANY [II]  (Discs)   •   AMERICAN VITAPHONE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AMERICANA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   AMIGO MUSIC PUBLISHING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AMMOR RECORD CORPORATION / AMMOR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AMUKE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ANTILLIAN MUSIC FEATURES, INC.  (Discs)   •   APEX RECORDING LABORATORY  (Discs)   •   APEX RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   APOLLO RECORDS, INC. / RAINBOW RECORD SHOP  (Discs)   •   APPLIANCES COMPANY, THE  (Discs)   •   ARCADIA RECORDS AND TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   ARCO RECORDS   •   ARDEN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ARDENE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ARISTA RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ARISTOCRAT RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ARROW PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ART SERVICE MUSIC  (Discs)   •   ARTIST RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ARTISTIC RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ARTISTS MUSIC CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ARTO COMPANY, THE  (Discs)   •   ARVID RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ASA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ASCH RECORDING STUDIOS / ASCH RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ASSOCIATED CINEMA STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   ASSOCIATED DISTRIBUTORS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ASSOCIATED STUDIOS BROADCASTING AND RECORDING  (Discs)   •   ATLAS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ATLANTIC RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ATOMIC RECORD COMPANY / ATOMIC, INC.  (Discs)   •   AUBURN BUTTON WORKS  (Discs)   •   AUDEON CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   AUDIENCE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   AUDIO COMPANY OF AMERICA / ACA RECORDING STUDIOS, INC.  (Discs)   •   AUTOGRAPH RECORDS  (Discs)   •   AVALON RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   AYO RECORDS  (Discs)

B. J. EXPLOITATION COMPANY (Discs) •   BACCHANAL RECORDINGS, INC.  (Discs)  •   BACHMAN STUDIO  (Discs)   •   BACIGALUPI, PETER & SONS  (Cylinders)   •   BACLORA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BALDWIN RECORDING STUDIOS, INC.  (Discs)   •   BALKAN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BALLEN RECORD COMPANY / GOTHAM RECORD CORPORATION)  (Discs)   •   BANDWAGON RECORDS, INC. / BENNETT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BANNER RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   BARTHEL RECORDS / BARTHEL, INC.  (Discs)   •   BATT MASIAN COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BEBE DANIELS, INC.   •  BEE BEE BEE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BELL RECORD COMPANY / BELL RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   BELL RECORD COMPANY, LTD.  (Discs)   •   BELL RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   BEL-TONE RECORDING CORPORATION (I)  (Discs)   •   BELTONE RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   BERLINER COMPANIES: American Gramophone Company; United States Gramophone Company; Berliner Gramophone Company  (Discs)   •   BESA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BETTINI PHONOGRAPH LABORATORY  (Cylinders)   •   BIBLETONE  (Discs)   •   BIG NICKEL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BLACK AND WHITE RECORDS / BLACK AND WHITE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BLUE DANUBE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BLU-DISC RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BLUE BONNET MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BLUE LABEL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BLUE NOTE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BLUE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BLUE RIBBON MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BLUE STAR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BLU-WHITE RECORD COMPANY, LTD.  (Discs)   •   BONEY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BONGO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BOP RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BORNAND MUSIC BOX RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BOST RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BOSTON TALKING MACHINE COMPANY / PHONO-CUT RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BRADLEY, RICHARD AND ASSOCIATES  (Discs)   •   BRIDGEPORT DIE & MACHINE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BRINCKERHOFF & COMPANY, INC. / BRINCKERHOFF STUDIOS, INC.–TIME ABROAD / GENERAL SOUND CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   BROADCAST RECORDERS, INC.  (Discs)   •   BROADCAST RECORDING STUDIOS / BROADCAST RECORDS  (Discs)   •   BRONZE RECORDING STUDIO / BRONZE RECORD & RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BROOME, GEORGE  (Discs)   •   BRUNSWICK-BALKE-COLLENDER COMPANY  (Discs)   •   BRUNSWICK RADIO CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   BRUNSWICK RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   BULLET RECORDING AND TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY / BULLEIT ENTERPRISES, INC.  (Discs)   •   BURKE & ROUS  (Cylinders)   •   BURNETTE, SMILEY  (Discs)   •   BURT (MANUFACTURING) COMPANY, THE  (Discs)

C & S PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   C. H. BOURNE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CADET RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CADILLAC RECORD COMPANY (I)  (Discs)   •   CADILLAC RECORD COMPANY (II)  (Discs)   •   CALIFORNIA RECORD (MANUFACTURING) COMPANY (Discs)   •   CALIFORNIA RECORDING COMPANY (Discs)   •   CAMEO RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   CANZONET RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CAPITAL SOUND STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   CAPITOL RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CAPITOL ROLL & RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CAPRI RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CARDINAL RECORDS, INC.   •   CA-SONG RECORD COMPANY / AUTO-PHOTO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CASTLE RECORD COMPANY ( (Discs)   •   CASTLE RECORDS, INC. (I)  (Discs)   •   CASTLE RECORDS, INC. (II)  (Discs)   •   CAVALCADE MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CAVALIER RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CECILLE MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CELPS RECORD (& SUPPLY) COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CELTIC RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   CENTRAL NEBRASKA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY   •   CHAMPION RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CHAMPION RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   CHANCE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CHANGER PUBLICATIONS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CHARLES E. WASHBURN COMPANY / COAST RECORD (MANUFACTURING) COMPANY / RODEO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CHARM RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CHARLES ECKARD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CHARTER RECORDS  (Discs)  •   CHEROKEE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CHICAGO CENTRAL PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   CHICAGO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CHICAGO RECORDING STUDIOS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CHICAGO TALKING MACHINE COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   CHIEF RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CINCINNATI RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CIRCLE RECORDS / CIRCLE SOUND, INC.  (Discs)   •   CLARK PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CLARION RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CLARION RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   CLASSIC RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CLAUDE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CLEF RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CLIPPER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CLOVER RECORDS COMPANY, LTD.  (Discs)   •   CLUB RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CO-ART RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)   •   COBRA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COLEMAN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   COLLECTORS ITEMS, INC.  (Discs)   •   COLORADO PHONOGRAPH COMPANY / COLORADO AND UTAH PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   COLUMBIA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY AND RELATED COMPANIES: American Graphophone Company; Columbia Graphophone Company; Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Company; Columbia Phonograph Company, Inc.; Columbia Phonograph Company, General  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   COLUMBIA RECORDING CORPORATION / COLUMBIA RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   COMAR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COMET, INC.  (Discs)   •   COMMODORE MUSIC SHOP / COMMODORE RECORD CO., INC.  (Discs)   •   COMPO COMPANY, LTD. / H. S. BERLINER LABORATORIES (New York branch)  (Discs)   •   COMMAND RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COMMERCIAL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   COMPASS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CONCERT HALL SOCIETY, INC.  (Discs)   •   CONCERT PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Cylinders)   •   CONSOLIDATED PHONOGRAPH COMPANIES, LTD. / CONSOLIDATED PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   CONSOLIDATED RECORD(ING) CORPORATION / CONSOLIDATED RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   CONTINENTAL PHONOGRAPH AND RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CONTINENTAL RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   COOK LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   CORMAC RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CORONET RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   COSMOPOLITAN RECORDS, INC. / COSMO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COURTNEY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COVA RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   COVERED WAGON RECORDS  (Discs)   •   COWBOY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   COZY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CRITERION LABORATORIES / CRITERION RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CROWN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CROWN RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   CROWN RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   CROWN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   CRYSTAL RECORDING STUDIO  (Discs)   •   CRYSTAL TONE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   CRYSTALETTE RECORDS OF CALIFORNIA / CRYSTALETTE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   CUDAHY RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)

D. E. BOSWELL & COMPANY (Cylinders) •   DAMON RECORDING STUDIOS, INC. / DAMON TRANSCRIPTION LABORATORY  (Discs)   •   DANA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DANCELAND RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DAVIS, JOE: Beacon Record Company / Celebrity Records / Joe Davis Record Company / Davis Record Corporation / Jay-Dee Records  (Discs)   •   DAY DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DC RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DE LUXE RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   DECCA RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   DELMAC RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DELRAY RECORDING COMPANY / PARADISE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DELVAR RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DERBY RECORDS CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   DIAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DIAMOND RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   DIAMOND RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   DISCOVERY RECORDS, INC. / DISCOVERY RECORDS OF NEW YORK, INC.  (Discs)   •   DOLPHIN, JOHN: Dolphin’s of Hollywood / Recorded in Hollywood  (Discs)  •   DOME RECORDS (INC.)  (Discs)   •   DOMESTIC TALKING MACHINE CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   DOMINO PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   DOMINO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DONETT HIT RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DOT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DOWN BEAT RECORDING COMPANY / SWING BEAT RECORDS / SWING TIME RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DOWN HOME CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   DOWN HOME RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DOWN RIVER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DUDLEY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   DUKE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DUPLEX PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Discs)   •   DURIUM PRODUCTS CORPORATION / DURIUM PRODUCTS, INC.  (Discs)

E. A. EILY RECORD COMPANY (Discs) •   E. O’BYRNE De WITT & SON(S) / JAMES O’BYRNE DeWITT, INC.  (Discs)   •   E. T. HERZOG RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   E. T. PAULL MUSIC COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   EAGLE RECORD COMPANY / ABC-EAGLE RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   EBONY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ECHO RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ECHO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   EDISON, THOMAS A.: Edison Phonograph Works; National Phonograph Company; North American Phonograph Company; Thomas A. Edison, Inc.  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   EDISON PHONOGRAPH COMPANY OF OHIO  (Cylinders)   •   EKKO RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ELECTRIC RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   ELECTRO-VOX RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   EMANON RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   EMBASSY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   EMERALD RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   EMERSON PHONOGRAPH COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)  •   EMERSON RECORDING LABORATORIES, INC.  (Discs)   •   EMPEY RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   EMPIRE BROADCASTING SYSTEM  (Discs)   •   EMPIRE RECORD COMPANY / CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   EMPIRE RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   ENCORE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ENGLEWOOD RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ENTERPRISE RECORDS (INC.)  (Discs)   •   ESLAVA RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ESQUIRE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   ETNA RECORDING COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   EVERSTATE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   EVERYBODYS RECORD, INC.  (Discs)   •   EXCELSIOR PHONOGRAPH COMPANY / EXCELSIOR & MUSICAL PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   EXCELSIOR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   EXCLUSIVE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   EXNER RECORD COMPANY / F. B. EXNER  (Discs)

F AND P RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FAMOUS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FAMOUS RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   FAMOUS SINGERS RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)  •   FANFARE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FARGO RECORDS  (Discs)  •   FAVORITE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FBC DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FEDERAL RECORD CORPORATION  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   FINE ARTS RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FINE RECORDING COMPANY / FINE RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   FLETCHER RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   FLINT RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   FLORA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FLORIDA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   FLORIDA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FM RECORDS / FM RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FOLKRAFT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FOLKWAYS RECORDS & SERVICE CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   FORTUNE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FOX RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   49th STATE HAWAII RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FRANK’S FOLK TUNE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   FRAN-TONE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   FREEDOM RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FRANWIL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   FRIENDS OF RECORDED MUSIC, THE  (Discs)   •   FRONTIER RECORDS  (Discs)

GAELIC (PHONOGRAPH) RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   GALA RECORD COMPANY / CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   GAMUT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   GEE BEE RECORDS   •   GEDDINS, ROBERT L. (BOB): Big Town Recordings; Down Town Recording, Inc.; Cava-Tone Recording  (Discs)   •   GEM RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   GENE AUSTIN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GENERAL PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   GENNETT RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   GEORGIA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   G.I. RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   GILT-EDGE RECORD COMPANY / 4 STAR RECORD COMPANY, INC  (Discs)   •   GLOBE DISTRIBUTORS  (Discs)   •   GLOBE PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   GLOBE RECORD COMPANY [I]  (Discs)   •   GLOBE RECORD COMPANY [II]  (Discs)   •   GLO TONE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   GOLD MEDAL RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   GOLD-RAIN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GOLD SEAL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GOLD TONE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GOLDBAND RECORD COMPANY / GOLDBAND RECORDING STUDIO  (Discs)   •   GOLDEN RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   GOOD TIME JAZZ  (Discs)   •   GOTHAM RECORD COMPANY / GOODY RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   GRAMOPHONE SHOP, THE  (Discs)   •   GRAND CENTRAL MUSIC COMPANY / REGO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   GRAND RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GREATER NEW YORK PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   GREEK RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   GREEN RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   GREGOL ENTERPRISES  (Discs)   •   GREGORY RECORD COMPANY / BOBBY GREGORY RECORDS / CATHY-BOBBY GREGORY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   GREY GULL RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)  •   GRIMES MUSIC PUBLISHERS / CLEF PUBLICATIONS  (Discs)   •   GUILD RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   GOLD STAR RECORDS   •   GULF RECORD COMPANY, INC.

H & M LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   HAMP-TONE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   HANDY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HAPPINESS RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HARDING, ROGER  (Cylinders)   •   HARDMAN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HARGAIL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HARMONIA RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   HARMONY RECORD COMPANY   •   HARMONY RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   HARMONY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HARMS, KAISER & HAGEN  (Cylinders)   •   HARRIS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HARRY LIM RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   HART-VAN RECORD RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HAVEN RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   HAWTHORNE & SHEBLE [MANUFACTURING] COMPANY  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   HEADLINE RECORD CORPORATION OF NEW YORK  (Discs)   •   HEART RECORDS, INC.  (Disc)   •   HIGH TIME RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HI-LITE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)  •   HIT RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOLIDAY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOLIDAY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HOLIDAY RECORDS (OF HOLLYWOOD)  (Discs)   •   HOLLYWOOD ENTERPRISES, INC.  •   HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HOLLYWOOD (PHONOGRAPH) RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOLLYWOOD RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOLLYWOOD STAR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HOLMES ROYAL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOT RECORD SOCIETY / H. R. S. RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   HOT ROD RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HOUSTON RECORDS  (Discs)  •   HOWARD RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   HUB RECORDS  (Discs)   •   HUCKSTERS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   HUNTING, RUSSELL  (Cylinders)   •   HY-TONE RECORDING COMPANY / HY-TONE MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)

IDEAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   IDESSA MALONE DISTRIBUTORS / IDESSA MALONE ENTERPRISES / STAFF RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   IMPERIAL RECORD COMPANY (I)  (Discs)   •   IMPERIAL RECORD COMPANY, INC. (II)  (Discs)   •   IMPERIAL RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   IMPERIAL TALKING MACHINE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   IMPRESARIO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   INDESTRUCTIBLE PHONOGRAPHIC RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   INDEPENDENT RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   INDIGO RECORDINGS, INC.  (Discs)   •   INTERNATIONAL PHONOGRAPH AND RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   INTERNATIONAL RECORD COMPANY [I]  (Discs)   •   INTERNATIONAL RECORD COMPANY (II)  (Discs)   •   INTERNATIONAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   INTERNATIONAL RECORDS AGENCY  (Discs)   •   IOWA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   ISLAND MUSIC AND RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ISRAEL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   IVORY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

J. B. ALLISON RECORDING LABORATORIES • J. O. B. RECORDS  (Discs)   •   J. W. MYERS STANDARD PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   JADE RECORD COMPANY   •   JAMBOREE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   JAMES D. VAUGHAN, PUBLISHER  (Discs)   •   JAZZ DISC  (Discs)   •   JAZZ INFORMATION RECORDS  (Discs)   •   JAZZ LTD.  (Discs)   •   JAZZ MAN RECORD SHOP  (Discs)   •   JAZZOLOGY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   JEWEL RECORD COMPANY (I)  •   JEWEL RECORD COMPANY (II)  (Discs)   •   JOCO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   JOHN CURRIE ENTERPRISES  (Discs)   •   JONES (RECORDING) LABORATORIES / JONES RESEARCH SOUND PRODUCTS  (Discs)   •   JUBILEE RECORDS COMPANY, INC. / JAY-GEE RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   JUKE BOX RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   JUMP RECORDS  (Discs)

KANSAS CITY TALKING MACHINE COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   KANSAS PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   KAPPA RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)  •   KARL ZOMAR LIBRARY, THE / COLUMBINE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   KEEN-O-PHONE COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)  •   KEM RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   KENTUCKY PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   KEYNOTE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   KHOURY’S RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   KING JAZZ, INC.  (Discs)   •   KING RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   KISMET RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

LA BONITA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LA MARR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LABORATOR ED. JEDLICKA  (Cylinders)   •   LABORATORY ASSOCIATION, THE (Discs)   •   LAMB’S RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   LAMBERT COMPANY, THE  (Cylinders)   •   LAMPLIGHTER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LARK RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LASSO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LATIN AMERICAN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LAURENT RECORDS, LTD.  (Discs)   •   LEE SALES COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   LEDA RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LEEDS & CATLIN COMPANY  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   LEI RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   LEO KUPANA’I STUDIO  (Discs)   •   LESLIE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   LIBERTY MUSIC SHOP(S)  (Discs)   •   LIBERTY PHONOGRAPH COMPANY   •   LIBERTY RECORD COMPANY [I – Hollywood] / BLAZON RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LIBERTY RECORD COMPANY [II – New York]  (Discs)   •   LIBERTY RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LIBRARY OF CONGRESS  (Discs)   •   LIFE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LIFE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LINA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LINCOLN, BENJAMIN  (Discs)   •   LINCOLN RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   LINDEN RECORDINGS / LINDEN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   LINDWOOD RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LITTLE WONDER RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LISSEN RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   LLOYD’S NOVELTY AND CURIO SHOP  (Discs)   •   LONDON GRAMOPHONE CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   LONE STAR MUSIC PUBLISHERS   •   LONE STAR PUBLISHING AND RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LOUISIANA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY, LTD.  (Cylinders)   •   LUCKY 7 RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   LYRAPHONE COMPANY OF AMERICA  (Discs)   •   LYRIC PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)

M & S DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   M & S ELECTRIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MACY’S RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MacGREGOR & SOLLIE, INC. / MacGREGOR & INGRAM RECORDING LABORATORIES / MacGREGOR TRANSCRIPTIONS STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   MAESTRO MUSIC COMPANY / MAESTRO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MACKSOUD, A. J.  (Discs)   •   MAGNOLIA RECORDS COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   MAIN STEM MUSIC SHOP  (Discs)   •   MAIN STREET RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MAJESTIC PHONOGRAPH COMPANY, INC. / MAJESTIC RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   MAJESTIC RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MAJOR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MALOOF PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MANHATTAN MUSIC CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   MANHATTAN RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   MANOR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MARGO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MAR-KEE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MARS RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MARSH LABORATORIES, INC.  (Discs)   •   MARSHALL, CHARLES  (Cylinders)   •   MARSHALL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MARVEL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MARVEL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MARY HOWARD RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   MASTER RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MASTER RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MASTERTONE RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   MAUNAY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MAYFAIR RECORD & RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   MELFORD RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MELLO-STRAIN RECORDS, LTD.  (Discs)   •   MELLOW MUSIC SHOP / MELLOW RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MEL-MAR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MELMORE, INC.  (Discs)   •   MELODISC RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MELODY LANE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MELODY MODERNE, INC. / MEMO RECORDS CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   MELODY RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MELODY TRAIL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MELROSE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MELTZER, SAM  (Discs)   •   MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE  (Discs)   •   MERCURY RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   MERIT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MERO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   METROPOLITAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   METROPOLITAN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   METROTONE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   M-G-M RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MICHIGAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   MIDA RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MIDGET MUSIC, INC. / MIDGET MUSIC PRODUCTIONS / FIDELITY RECORDS [I]  (Discs)   •   MILLER PUBLICATIONS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MINNESOTA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   MIRACLE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MIRROR RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   MISSOURI PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)  •   MODERN MUSIC RECORDS / MODERN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MONARCH RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MONROE, JOHN  (Cylinders)   •   MONTANA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY   •   MORRISON MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MOTIF RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MOVIETONE MUSIC CORPORATION   •   MURRAY SINGER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MUSIC ART RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MUSIC ENTERPRISES, INC.  (Discs)   •   MUSIC FOR SOCIETY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   MUSIC, INC.  (Discs)   •   MUSIC-MART RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MUSIC ON PARADE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MUSIC YOU ENJOY, INC.  (Discs)   •   MUSICAL PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   MUSICRAFT CORPORATION / MUSICRAFT RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   MUTUAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   MUZAK, INC. / ASSOCIATED MUSIC PUBLISHERS RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)

NATIONAL FILM AND RECORDING COMPANY / RICHARD BRADLEY AND ASSOCIATES  (Discs)   •   NATIONAL PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NATIONAL RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)   •   NATION’S FORUM  (Discs)   •   NATURAL HIT RECORD COMPANY, A  (Discs)   •   NEBRASKA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NEW ENGLAND PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NEW JAZZ RECORD COMPANY / PRESTIGE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   NEW JERSEY PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NEW MUSIC QUARTERLY RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   NEW YORK PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NEW YORK PHONOGRAPH RECORDING COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   NEWARK RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   NORCROSS PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)  •   NORDSKOG PHONOGRAPH RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   NORTH AMERICAN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)  •   NUMELODY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   NUTMEG RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)

OHIO PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   OHIO TALKING MACHINE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   OKEH PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   OKLAHOMA TORNADO RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   OLD DOMINION PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   OLYMPIC DISC RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   OPERA RECORD COMPANY / OPERA RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   OPERA RECORDS  (Discs)   •   OPERAPHONE COMPANY / OPERAPHONE MANUFACTURING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   ORA NELLE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ORPHEUM RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ORPHEUS RECORD AND TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY  (Discs)   •   OTTO HEINEMAN PHONOGRAPH SUPPLY COMPANY, INC. (Discs)

PACE PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION / BLACK SWAN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PACEMAKER RECORD AND TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PACIFIC RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PACIFIC COAST RECORD CORPORATION, LTD.  (Discs)   •   PACIFIC PHONOGRAPH AGENCY / PACIFIC PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   PAGE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PALDA RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PAN-AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS / PAN-AM TRANSCRIPTIONS  (Discs)   •   PAN-AMERICAN RECORD COMPANY / BIRWELL CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PANHELLENIC / PANHELLENION PHONOGRAPH RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   PARAGON RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   PARAMOUNT RECORD MANUFACTURING AND RECORDING COMPANY   •   PARAMOUNT RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PARAMOUNT RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PARADE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PARKWAY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PAROQUETTE RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   PATHÉ FRÈRES PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PATHÉ PHONOGRAPH & RADIO CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PEACOCK RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PEAK RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   PEARL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PEARSON’S PRODUCTIONS, INC.  (Discs)   •   PENGUIN RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PEOPLE’S ARTISTS, INC.  (Discs)   •   PEOPLE’S SONGS  (Discs)  •   PHILO RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   PHONO RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PHONOGRAPH RECORD AND SUPPLY COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   PHONOGRAPH RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PHOTO & SOUND, INC.  (Discs)   •   PHOTOTONE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PILOT RADIO COMPANY / CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PIX RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PLANET RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PLEASANT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   POLONIA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Discs)   •   POLORON RECORDS  (Discs)   •   POLYPHONE COMPANY, THE / TALKING MACHINE COMPANY, THE  (Cylinders)   •   PREMIER RADIO ENTERPRISES, INC. / PREMIER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PREMIER RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PREMIUM RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   PRESIDENT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PREVIEW RECORDS  (Discs)   •   PRODUCERS RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)  •   PROCESS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   PUBLIC RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)

Q.R.S COMPANY  (Discs)   •   QUAKER MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   QUALITY RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   QUINN RECORDING COMPANY / GOLD STAR RECORDS RECORDS  (Discs)

RABSON’S MUSIC SHOP  (Discs)   •   RADIO CORPORATION OF AMERICA — RCA VICTOR DIVISION  (Discs)   •   RADIO RECORDERS, INC.  (Discs)   •   RADIO-RUNDFUNK CORPORATION / EUROPA IMPORT COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RADIO TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY OF AMERICA, LTD.  (Discs)   •   RAINBOW RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RAINBOW RECORDS, INC. / RAINBOW RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   RAVEN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RAYMOR–McCOLLISTER MUSIC / RAYMOR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   REC-ART RECORDINGS / REC-ART STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RECORD MERCHANDISING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RECORD SYNDICATE TRUST  (Discs)   •   RED BARN RECORDING COMPANY   •   RED BIRD RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   REED & DAWSON / REED, DAWSON & COMPANY  (Cylinders)  •   REEVES SOUND STUDIOS / REEVES SOUNDCRAFT CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   REGAL RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   REGAL RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   REGAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   REGENT RECORDS  (Discs)   •   REGIS RECORD COMPANY / REGIS RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)  •   RELAX RECORDS  (Discs)  •   REMINGTON RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   RELAX RECORDS  (Discs)   •   REX TALKING MACHINE CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   REYNARD, JAMES KENT  (Discs)   •   RHAPSODY RECORDS [I]  (Discs)   •   RHAPSODY RECORDS [II]  (Discs)   •   RHUMBOOGIE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RHYTHM RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)  •   RHYTHM RECORDINGS, INC.  (Discs)   •   RICH PUBLICATIONS / RICH-ART ENTERPRISES, INC. / RICH-ART RECORDS  (Discs)   •   RICH RECORDINGS  (Discs)  •   RICH-R’-TONE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RICHTONE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RKO PATHE STUDIOS Discs)   •   RODEHEAVER RECORD COMPANY / RODEHEAVER RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   ROBIN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   RODEO RECORDS  (Discs)   •   RONDO RECORDS / RONDO RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ROOST RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ROY MILTON RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   ROY RECORDS  (Discs)  •   ROYAL RECORD COMPANY / SEPIA RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   ROYCROFTERS, THE  (Discs)   •   ’R-TIST RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   RUMPUS RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

S & D RECORDS  (Discs)  •   S & G RECORDS  (Discs)   •   S. B. W. RECORDING COMPANY / CARL SOBIE PUBLISHING  (Discs)   •   SACRED RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SAN ANTONIO PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   SAN ANTONIO RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SAPPHIRE RECORD & TALKING MACHINE COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SAPPHIRE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SARAFIAN SOHAG / SOKHAG RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SARCO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   SAUVENAIR RECORDS COMPANY  (Discs)  •   SAVOY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   SCANDINAVIAN MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SCANDINAVIAN MUSIC HOUSE  (Discs)   •   SCHIRMER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SCHRIBER AND GUSTAFSON  (Discs)  •   SCOOP RECORD COMPANY [I]  (Discs)   •   SCOOP RECORD COMPANY [II]  (Discs)   •   SCOOP RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SCOTT RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SCRANTON BUTTON COMPANY / SCRANTON RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SEARS, ROEBUCK & COMPANY – SILVERTONE RECORD CLUB  (Discs)   •   SECURITY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SEECO RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SELECTIVE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SENSATION RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SELLERS COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SERENADE RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SESSION RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SEVA RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SEYMOUR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SHARP RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SIEMON HARD RUBBER COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SIGNATURE RECORD COMPANY / SIGNATURE RECORDING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SILVER SPUR RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SILVER STAR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SILVER STAR RECORDING COMPANY   •   SITTIN’ IN WITH RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SLATE ENTERPRISES, INC.  (Discs)   •   SOLO ART RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   SONART RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SONGCRAFT, INC.  (Discs)  •   SONORA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY, INC. / SONORA PHONOGRAPH CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SONORA RADIO AND TELEVISION CORPORATION / SONORA RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SONOROUS MUSIC COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   SORORITY FRATERNITY RECORDS AND PUBLICATIONS / MAYHAMS AND CO-ED RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SOUTH DAKOTA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   SPANISH MUSIC CENTER / CODA RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SPECIALTY RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SPIKES BROTHERS PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SPIN RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SPIRE RECORDS COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   SPIRE RECORDS, LTD.  (Discs)   •   SPIRO RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   SPOKANE PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)  •   SPOTLIGHT RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SPOTLITE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SQUARE DEAL RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   STANCHEL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   STANDARD PHONO / PHONOGRAPH COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   STAN-LEE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   STANLEY RECORDING COMPANY OF AMERICA, INC.  (Discs)   •   STAPLETON INDUSTRIES  (Discs)   •   STARR PIANO COMPANY – GENNETT RECORDS DIVISION  (Discs)   •   STATE PHONOGRAPH COMPANY OF ILLINOIS  (Cylinders)   •   STEINER, JOHN  (Discs)   •   STERLING RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   STINSON RECORDS / STINSON TRADING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   STRAND RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   STRONG RECORD COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   SULLIVAN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SULTAN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SUNBEAM RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   SUNRISE RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)  •   SUNSET RECORD COMPANY  •   SUNSET RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   SUNSHINE PRODUCTIONS AND RECORDS  (Discs)   •   SUPER DISCS  (Discs)   •   SUPREME RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   SWAN RECORDING COMPANY, INC.  (Discs)   •   SWING RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

TALENT RECORDS / STAR TALENT RECORDS  (Discs)  •   TALKING PHOTO CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   TALK-O-PHONE COMPANY, THE  (Discs)   •   TANNER MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   TECH-ART RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   TECHNICORD RECORDS  (Discs)   •  TELE-RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   TEMPO RECORD COMPANY OF AMERICA  (Discs)   •   TEMPO-TONE RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •    TENNESSEE PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  •   TENNESSEE RECORDS  (Discs)   •   TEXAS PHONOGRAPH COMPANY   •   TEXSTAR RECORDS  (Discs)    •   THOMAS W. HATCH, PUBLISHER  (Discs)   •   3 MINUTE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   TIMELY RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   TITAN PRODUCTION COMPANY  (Discs)   •   TIME ABROAD, LTD.   •   TOKEN RECORDS  (Discs)  •   TOP RECORD COMPANY / TOP RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   TOPS MUSIC ENTERPRISES / TOPS RECORDS  (Discs)   •   TOWER RECORDS  (Discs)   •   TRILON RECORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   TRI-COLOR RECORDS  (Discs)  •   TRIUMPH RECORDS  (Discs)  •   TROPHY RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   TRU TONE PRODUCTIONS, INC. / TRU TONE RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)

UNION OF IRISH INDUSTRIES, INC.  (Discs)  •   UNIQUE MUSIC PUBLISHERS AND RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   U. S. PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   UNITED ARTIST RECORDS  (Discs)   •   UNITED BROADCASTING COMPANY / MASTER RECORD COMPANY / SWING-MASTER RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   UNITED HEBREW DISK & CYLINDER COMPANY / UNITED HEBREW RECORD COMPANY  (Cylinders and Discs)   •   UNITED MASTERS, INC.  (Discs)   •   UNITED SOUND STUDIOS / UNITED SOUND SYSTEMS  (Discs)   •   UNITED STATES PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   UNITED STATES RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   UNITED STATES RECORD MANUFACTURING CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   UNIVERSAL PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   UNIVERSAL RECORDING LABORATORIES / UNIVERSAL RECORDING CORPORATION / UNIVERSAL RECORDS  (Discs)   •   UNIVERSAL RECORDING STUDIOS / UNIVERSAL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   UNIVERSAL TALKING MACHINE (MANUFACTURING) COMPANY  (Discs)   •   UPTOWN RECORDS  (Discs)   •   URAB RECORDING STUDIO (UNITED RECORDING ARTISTS BUREAU)  (Discs)   •   URBAN RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

VAN-ES RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   VARGO, INC. / VARGO RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   VARIETY RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   VELVET TONE RECORD COMPANY   •   VERNE RECORDING CORPORATION OF AMERICA  (Discs)   •   VICTOR AND VICTOR PREDECESSOR COMPANIES: Johnson Sound Recording Company / Consolidated Talking Machine Company / Victor Talking Machine Company  (Discs)   •   VITACOUSTIC RECORD COMPANY / VITACOUSTIC RECORDS, INC  (Discs)   •   VOGUE RECORDINGS, INC.  (Discs)   •   VON BATTLE RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   VOX CORPORATION OF AMERICA  (Discs)   •   VOX PRODUCTIONS, INC.  (Discs)   •   VULCAN RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)

WALCUTT, MILLER & COMPANY / WALCUTT & LEEDS / THE WALCUTT & LEEDS, LTD.  (Cylinders)   •   WALLIS ORIGINAL RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WARNER RECORD COMPANY / WARNER RECORDING LABORATORIES / WABINE RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WEST COAST PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   WEST COAST RECORDINGS  (Discs)   •   WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   WESTERN RECORDS / WESTERN RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WESTERN RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   WESTERNAIRE RECORDS / CONSTELLATION RECORD AND DISTRIBUTING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WHEELING RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WILLIAMS & RANKIN  (Cylinders)   •   WILLIAMS, J. MAYO: Southern Record Corporation / Harlem Records, Inc. / “Ink,” Inc. / Mayo Music / Ebony Records)  (Discs)   •   WHITE CHURCH RECORDING COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WILLOW WALK INDUSTRIES  (Discs)  •   WINSETT RECORDING LABORATORY  (Discs)   •   WINSTON HOLMES MUSIC COMPANY  (Discs)   •   WISCONSIN PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)   •   WOR ELECTRICAL RECORDING AND TRANSCRIPTION SERVICES / WOR RECORDING STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   WORLD BROADCASTING SYSTEM, INC. / WORLD TRANSCRIPTION STUDIOS  (Discs)   •   WORLD RECORDS, INC.  (Discs)   •   WORLD’S GREATEST MUSIC  (Discs)   •   WRIGHT RECORD CORPORATION  (Discs)   •   WRIGHTMAN, NEALE: Neale Wrightman Publishers / Wrightman Music, Inc. / Wrightman Record Company / Wrimus Company  (Discs)   •   WYOMING PHONOGRAPH COMPANY  (Cylinders)

YADDO  (Discs)  •   YERKES RECORDING LABORATORIES  (Discs)   •   YOUR RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)  •   ZARVAH ART RECORD COMPANY  (Discs)

NEW • The “World’s Greatest Music” Discography (RCA Victor Series) – Revised & Expanded by John Bolig

Our thanks to Victor expert John Bolig for revising and greatly expanding the very basic “World’s Greatest Music” listing that we posted a few weeks ago. The data are from RCA’s original documentation at the Sony archives in New York. A complete listing of RCA’s “World’s Greatest Operas” series is also being posted later today.

(By the way, several of John’s landmark Victor Discography titles have sold out recently. The remaining volumes are still available on the Mainspring Press website, but supplies are very limited. The listing below will give you a good idea of the high-quality data and attention to detail you’ll find in all of John’s books.)

Note that this listing is only for the original RCA-produced series of 1938-1940. Other producers took over the series after the RCA Victor connection was severed, and later pressings are not RCA products.
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Camden, Philadelphia, or New York? Fact-Checking the Victor Studio Locations (1901-1920)

Camden, Philadelphia, or New York: Fact-Checking the Victor Acoustic-Era Studio Locations
By Allan Sutton

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.

.The facts:

  • There is no documentary evidence that the Victor Talking Machine Company operated a recording studio in Camden, New Jersey, from September 1901 through early December 1907.
  • During that period, most Victor recording sessions were held in Philadelphia. A much smaller number, by Red Seal artists only, were held in New York at that time.
  • Very early Victor recording locations are only occasionally noted in the surviving company files.
  • Brian Rust and other early discographers, when confronted with this omission, behaved as usual — They guessed (incorrectly assuming Camden for September 1901 – November 1907 sessions that were actually held in Philadelphia), and then passed off their guesses as fact.

Now that the key points are out of the way, let’s look at the supporting evidence, from the memoirs of a man who was there at the time — Harry O. Sooy, Victor’s chief recording engineer. The following studio chronology is based upon Sooy’s memoirs (Sarnoff Library, Princeton, New Jersey), with corroborating circumstantial evidence from the surviving Victor files:

The Camden > Philadelphia > Camden Chronology
(1900 – 1907)

 

Late 1890s – February 1900: Collings Carriage Factory Building (Front & Market Streets), Camden, NJ

According to Sooy, this was the site of Eldridge R. Johnson’s first experimental recording studio. No documentation of the recordings made there is known to have survived

 

February 1, 1900 – c. August 1, 1901: Johnson Factory Building, Camden, NJ

In late 1899, Eldridge Johnson began construction of a four-story factory building in Camden. Sooy recalled having moved Johnson’s recording equipment from the carriage factory to the new building on or around February 1, 1900. By that time, according to Sooy, Johnson was recording masters for Berliner.

Recording of Johnson’s own masters (i.e., those issued on his various Victor predecessor labels) began on May 1, 1900. The last of Johnson’s Berliner masters for which a date is confirmed was recorded two days later.

Johnson’s studio was moved from Camden to Philadelphia in September 1901, according to Sooy (and the Victor Talking Machine Company was incorporated on October 3). The move was made to provide more space for the machine shop. Recording in Camden appears to have ended on August 1, 1901, and it would not resume there until December 9, 1907.

 

August 2 – September 4, 1901: No recording activity

 

September 5, 1901 – November 22, 1907: 424 S. 10th Street, Philadelphia

Sooy recalled that the Victor studio was moved to Philadelphia from its original Camden location during September 1901. The Victor files, which show that no recordings were made during August 2 – September 4, 1901, lend credence to  Sooy’s recollection.

Assuming this thirty-four day hiatus marks the Camden-to-Philadelphia transition, the last Camden session would have been Rogers & Pryor’s “Answer” (“pre-matrix” Victor 837, an August 1 remake of a May 31 session); and the first Philadelphia session would have been Frank Seiden’s “Rosinkes und Mandlein” (“pre-matrix” Victor 928, recorded September 5, 1901). The large numerical gap occurs because the Rogers & Pryor catalog number was allocated at the time of the original session.

Sooy recalled, “The moving of the Laboratory from Camden [to] Philadelphia was done…by Mr. MacEwan, a bob-tail horse and Mr. Nafey. Money in these days not being overly plentiful, MacEwan acted as teamster on the job, and Nafey, I guess, was boss; however, the moving was done in a very creditable manner… Upon entering our new quarters at 424 So. 10th St., or 10th and Lombard Sts., which was known as the colored belt of Philadelphia, we were furnished with considerable excitement in the neighborhood outside of making records.”

Philadelphia would host Victor’s main studio for six years. The studio was located on the second floor of a building formerly occupied by the Berliner Gramophone Company. A matrix-plating plant was housed in the basement, and a blank-processing department was opened on the third floor in January 1904. Stampers  were shipped to the Duranoid Company (and, for a time, to the Burt Company as well) for pressing. Victor also maintained a Philadelphia branch office in the Girard Building during this period.

As far as can be ascertained from documentary and circumstantial evidence, no Victor recording studio existed in Camden while the Philadelphia studio was in operation. Thus, the many modern citations of Camden recording sessions from September 5, 1901 through November 1907 are in error.

 

November 23 – December 8, 1907: No recording activity

 

From December 9, 1907: Front & Cooper Streets, Camden, NJ

During November 1907, the Philadelphia studio was closed, and a new studio was opened on the fourth floor of what would later come to be known as Building #15 in Camden. The transitional period is apparent in the Victor files, which show no recordings were made during November 23–December 8, 1907.

Assuming this sixteen-day hiatus marks the Philadelphia-to-Camden transition, the last Philadelphia recording would have been Alan Turner’s “The White Squall” (mx. B 4961, recorded November 22, 1907; delayed release on Victor 16006); and the first Camden recording would have been the Victor Orchestra’s “Army and Navy Medley Reel” (mx. B 4962, rejected takes 1 and 2, recorded December 9, 1907).

While many Red Seal sessions continued to be held in New York, the Camden studio was also used for Red Seal sessions beginning December 11, 1907. “From this time on,” Harry Sooy stated, “recording dates of a Red Seal nature were alternated between the Camden and New York laboratories to suit the convenience of the artists.”

On March 13, 1911, the studio was moved to the newly added seventh floor of Building #15. Additional studios were installed in the building over the years, the last major addition being a large room for orchestral sessions in late 1924. After RCA’s acquisition of Victor in 1929, the Camden studios were slowly phased out in favor of New York.

After attempts to record a large symphony orchestra in the regular studio proved unsatisfactory, the eighth-floor auditorium of the Executive Building in Camden was converted to a temporary studio in the autumn of 1917. The hundred-member Boston Symphony Orchestra under Karl Muck made its first recordings in the auditorium studio on October 2, followed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski on October 22.

In early 1918, Victor purchased the Trinity Church at 114 North Fifth Street, Camden, which it converted to a studio for large vocal and instrumental ensembles, as well as sessions requiring a pipe-organ regardless of ensemble size (the original church organ was eventually replaced with a more robust model). Recording commenced there on February 27, 1918. During 1928, the main floor of the church was used on occasion as a supplemental Vitaphone sound-stage, and a basement studio was used for soundtrack dubbing.

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Victor’s New York Studios (1903 – Early 1920s)

Initially, Victor maintained a New York studio solely for the convenience of its Red Seal artists. Less-stellar  artists were required to travel to Philadelphia (or later, to Camden). Sooy stated that all Red Seal sessions prior to July 22, 1907, were held in New York, and file evidence seems to support his assertion.

 

March 26, 1903 – October 8, 1904: Carnegie Hall Annex (Room 826), New York

Victor leased studio space in the annex, not in the theater itself as has been stated in some works. Enrico Caruso made his first Victor recordings there, and as far as can be ascertained, all Carnegie Hall sessions involved Red Seal artists. Sooy recalled, “It was a great relief to get out of Carnegie Hall, and away from the Vocal Studios where vocal teachers were constantly trying voices, good, bad and otherwise.” The Carnegie Hall Annex studio was not a full-time operation.

 

October 8, 1904 – June 1, 1909: 234 Fifth Avenue, New York

As with the Carnegie Hall studio, this location was reserved primarily for Red Seal sessions and was not a full-time operation.

 

After June 1, 1909:

By the later ’teens, Victor’s New York studios were being used for popular as well as classical sessions, and cities usually are listed in the files (see DAHR’s free online Victor data for locations of each session). Victor operated its main New York studios at the following addresses during the remainder of the acoustic era:
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June 2, 1909 – April 1912: 37–39 E. 29th Street, New York (first full-time New York studio)

April 1912 – January 18, 1917: 12–14 W. 37th Street, New York

January 19, 1917 — January 5, 1921: 46 W. 38th Street, New York

From January 6, 1921: National Association Building (28 W. 44th Street, 22nd floor), New York

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By the later 1920s, Victor was operating at least three New York studios simultaneously, including leased space in Liederkranz Hall. These studios, as well as Victor’s Midwestern and West Coast studios and its field-recording locations, will be the subject of a future article.

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© 2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

 

Mainspring Press Website Changes – August 2017

We will be deleting the Articles section of the Mainspring Press website later this month. Some articles date back to the early 2000s, and many could use some updating. The best and most popular of the group will be revised and reposted as blog features over the next few months.

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The rest will go to their well-earned rest in offline storage. You’re still welcome to download the articles for personal use while they’re available — just keep in mind that copyrights and publication restrictions continue to apply, even to deleted articles.

 

“Paramount’s Rise and Fall” Has Sold Out – Others to Follow Soon

Alex van der Tuuk’s Paramount’s Rise and Fall sold out this morning, after a long and successful run (in two editions) as one of our most important titles. We have no further copies available for sale.

The following titles are now in very short supply (less than one carton of each) as we continue to phase out book sales in favor of online data distribution, in affiliation with UC-Santa Barbara’s DAHR project. These titles will not be reprinted once current supplies are gone — Best to order soon, if interested:

Bolig: Victor Black Label Discography, Vol. II

Bolig: Victor Black Label Discography, Vol. IV

Bryant, et al.: American Record Co., Hawthorne & Sheble

Bryant, et al.: Leeds & Catlin Records

Charosh: Berliner Records in America

Sutton: Recording the ‘Twenties

You can browse and order all remaining titles on the Mainspring Press website, while supplies last.

Please note that Mainspring Press does not sell on Amazon.com; Mainspring titles on Amazon are being offered by third parties (sometimes at ridiculously inflated prices) with whom we are not affiliated. Most are used copies and are duly noted as such, but some copies being offered as “new” may be remaindered hurt/second-quality copies, which we have made available to resellers on occasion. Mainspring Press sells only on its own website, and on eBay as mspBooks.

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The John Fletcher Story — Part 1: “Music for Everybody” (1900 – 1921)

THE JOHN FLETCHER STORY
Part 1: “Music for Everybody” (1900 – 1921)
By Allan Sutton

This article is a substantially expanded version of a posting that originally appeared on the Mainspring Press website in 2001.

 

John Fletcher isn’t a name that normally comes up in discussions of recording industry pioneers. He managed to fail at virtually every venture he undertook (and there were many), and his involvement with Black Swan almost certainly contributed to that label’s demise. And yet, he was typical of many entrepreneurs who challenged the major companies during the record industry’s early boom years and, in doing so, managed to produce some intriguing records.

Fletcher, who began his career as a professional musician, claimed to have first recorded as a member of the Edison studio orchestra in the late 1890s. In a July 1918 interview with the Talking Machine World, Fletcher recalled, “My first phonographic experience was as a player in the old Edison cylinder laboratory in Orange, N.J., when you had to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, be on the job, in your chair, and ready to play at 8 o’clock.” [1]

By the early 1900s, John Fletcher was performing and recording with  Sousa’s Band, as a cornetist. He is almost certainly the “_Fletcher” cited by Brian Rust in early editions of Jazz Records (the name was deleted in some later editions, with no explanation offered).

Fletcher recalled, “The band was engaged for three weeks to make records for the Victor Company. At the time, the company’s laboratory consisted of a small room on the third floor in a building in the neighborhood of Tenth and Lombard streets, Philadelphia, and it was in this small room that I got my first insight into the mysteries of sound recording.” [2] (A search of the Victor files failed to turn up a contiguous three-week block of Sousa sessions. Perhaps Fletcher was referring to the period of May 31 through June 26, 1902, during which the band was in the studio on thirteen days.)

Fletcher toured Europe with Sousa’s Band, then reportedly joined the New York Symphony Orchestra upon his return. He is known to have made at least two recordings as a cornet soloist, for Indestructible cylinders in 1908 and 1910, [3] but his growing interest in sound recording soon eclipsed any desire to continue working as a musician. “During this time,” he told TMW, “I realized how imperfect were the methods then in vogue to record symphonic music with a few instruments, and I finally resolved to devote my future career to recording the various instruments comprising the grand orchestra, in sufficient numbers to produce the musical sensation caused by the combined tonality of such a large number of instruments.” [4]

Fletcher began to experiment with recording processes. He eventually devised what he termed “an extremely narrow” vertical-cut groove playable with an ordinary steel needle, for which he filed a patent application on July 3, 1915. Fletcher claimed that his process produced a record “found to be extremely durable in use,” a claim not supported by many of the surviving specimens in which it was employed. By the time the patent was finally granted in mid-1918, Fletcher had abandoned the fine-groove vertical cut.

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Fletcher’s fine-groove vertical-cut patent, 1915 (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.)

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On December 15, 1914, The Talking Machine World reported that Fletcher, E. F. Gerner, and M. Naughton had filed incorporation papers in New York for the Operaphone Manufacturing Corporation, which was to produce phonographs and records. [5] George Thomas served as president of the company, and Fletcher managed recording and manufacturing. The company opened a New York office at 2 Rector Street (which was later moved to 200 Fifth Avenue), a pressing plant at 156 Meadow Street in Long Island City, and a recording studio at an unknown location. The latter was moved into the pressing plant in late 1916. [6]

The exact date on which Operaphone records were first sold remains uncertain, but a trademark application, filed belatedly by Fletcher on September 13, 1919, claimed use of the Operaphone name on records beginning March 1, 1915. [7] The initial offerings were seven-inch discs employing Fletcher’s fine-groove vertical cut, bearing pressed labels (using a “frosted” background, reminiscent of the Edison Diamond Disc, but with sharply raised type) and retailing for 25¢ each. Fletcher did little advertising during Operaphone’s earliest days; in fact, Crescent (an Operaphone client label) began advertising in The Talking Machine World a month before Operaphone itself. [8]

Fletcher was pursuing two conflicting goals — the production of a cheap record that virtually anyone could afford (reflected in his “Music for Everybody” slogan), and the recording of serious symphonic repertoire, an inherently costly undertaking. In the end, he opted for the former. Despite its name and Fletcher’s lofty ambitions, the Operaphone label leaned heavily toward current popular tunes, public-domain “standards,” and light-classical snippets, most often rendered by the house band or the usual studio free-lance performers.

There were occasional selections by more distinguished artists, including retired Metropolitan Opera soprano Gertrude Rennyson and Broadway star May Naudain, but they were the exceptions. Some other Operaphone artists, like “Dan Perry,” were purely fictitious; “Perry” turns out to have been studio denizen Arthur Collins, based upon unmistakable aural evidence.

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An early “frosted”-label Operaphone pressing (left), and a re-pressing of the same master using the later etched label. “Dan Perry” was actually Arthur Collins in disguise. (Author’s collection)

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By the time that Operaphone finally began advertising regularly in early 1916, Fletcher had discontinued seven-inch discs and was producing eight-inch fine-groove pressings that he claimed would play “as long as the average twelve-inch records of other makers,” which in fact they did not. The copy was later revised to read, “more music than the ten-inch records of other makes,” which was still a bit of an exaggeration. Truth-in-advertising finally prevailed in 1917, when the wording was changed to “play at least as long as high-priced ten-inch records.”

The initial eight-inch Operaphone releases were listed in the January 1916 edition of The Talking Machine World, as February releases. [9] Retailing for 35¢, the eight-inch discs initially used the same dim, “frosted” labels as the seven-inch discs, which were soon replaced by more legible embossed labels with paint-filled type. In August 1916 the company finally announced, with some fanfare, that it was switching to paper labels. [10]

Fletcher also erred by sometimes coupling mismatched selections on his early releases, placing, for instance, a tired old hearts-and-flowers ballad on the flip side of a current pop tune—the same error Columbia had committed, then corrected, several years earlier. In September 1916, Fletcher promised that Operaphone would offer more compatible couplings on future releases. [11]

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The first paper Operaphone label (left), introduced in August 1916. The design had already appeared very briefly in etched form. Crescent was Operaphone’s earliest known client label. (Kurt Nauck collection)

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Despite such a bumpy start, Operaphone reported in August 1916 that production at the pressing plant had tripled in eight months. [12] Fletcher had also expanded his client list beyond Crescent and was now pressing eight-inch Operaphone discs under an array of labels that included All Star, Elginola, and the earliest version of  Domestic. He soon secured Canadian distribution for Operaphone through the Canadian Phonograph Company of Toronto. During the spring of 1917, offices were moved to 489 Fifth Avenue, to allow easier access to the Long Island plant (which now also housed the recording studio) via the Queensboro subway line. [13]

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Advertisements for eight-inch Operaphone discs, 1916

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To all outward appearances, the Operaphone Manufacturing Corporation was a thriving business in the spring of 1917. And then it seemingly vanished, without explanation or even a passing mention in the trade papers. Fletcher finally alluded to the closing in his 1918 interview, recalling, “After facing abnormal conditions, due to the steadily increasing prices of raw materials, the Operaphone Company seized the psychological moment to shut down its factory… .” [14]

In short, Fletcher had badly under-priced his goods. A price increase might have been feasible had the eight-inch Operaphone disc been a high-quality product, but it was far from that. Weakly recorded, pressed in poor material, and offering little out of the ordinary in the way of artists or repertoire, the records had nothing to recommend them other than their unusually low price. Fletcher later admitted that the eight-inch discs “incurred tremendous expenses with returns that were hardly commensurate.” [15]

*     *     *     *     *

One year later, a new type of Operaphone record suddenly appeared on the market, with no prior notice of its impending arrival. First advertised in April 1918, the records were credited to a reorganized Operaphone Company, Inc. [16] They were an obvious departure from the earlier series, being ten-inch vertical-cut discs that employed a groove of normal dimensions. What was not obvious was that John Fletcher, although still running the company, was no longer making his own recordings.

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Pathé supplied the masters for Operaphone’s new ten-inch series, the labels of which carry Pathé’s usual “U.S. Consumption Only” disclaimer. Many issues, like this one, were pseudonymous; “Albert Faber” was actually Eleanor Rae Ball.

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Fletcher, having mothballed his Long Island City studio, was now obtaining his recordings from the Pathé Phonograph Company. Pathé recorded its masters on oversized cylinders, which could be dubbed in any number of disc formats using the pantograph, a mechanical transcribing device that contributed to the rumbling and clanking heard on acoustic Pathé products.

The new ten-inch Operaphone discs used material from the Pathé catalog, but Pathé’s involvement would not have been apparent to the average record buyer. Having been transcribed using a steel-needle cut, the discs bore no physical resemblance to their sapphire-cut Pathé counterparts, and the artists often were masked by pseudonyms. A TMW reporter opined that the new records “mark a distinct improvement over the former Operaphone products,” but expressed no suspicions as to their true source. [17]

In conjunction with his new series, Fletcher announced that he was “planning to devote more time to…the recording of the entire symphonic repertoire.” In fact, Fletcher so far had not devoted any time to such an undertaking, beyond releasing a few orchestral lollipops on Operaphone. Unsurprisingly, given his track record and the fact that he was now simply leasing existing Pathé material, his plan was never implemented.

During the summer of 1919, a subtle change appeared in the wording of Operaphone’s advertising. Previously, the records had been touted as playing on “all universal tone-arm machines” (i.e., an arm that could be converted to play either lateral- or vertical-cut discs, usually by simply pivoting the reproducer into the proper position). In June, that was amended to read simply, “play on all phonographs.” The reason was that Pathé had begun dubbing Operaphone masters in a universal-cut format that was playable (albeit with rather mediocre result) on lateral or vertical machines without the need for a convertible arm. The earlier label, which pictured a reproducer in the vertical-cut position, was replaced by a redesigned version that dispensed with the illustration and listed the Smallwood universal-cut patent, #639,452.

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The final Operaphone label, showing Smallwood’s universal-cut patent number. Pathé was careful to disguise its more prestigious artists on Operaphone; “Rosner’s Dance Orchestra” was actually Joseph Knecht’s Waldorf Astoria Orchestra, and “Helene Buepre” was Claudia Muzio. (Kurt Nauck collection)

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As with the previous Operaphone series, material came from the Pathé catalog, the artists were often disguised, and the records bore no physical resemblance to their Pathé sapphire-ball counterparts. The records were also pressed under several client labels, including Empire and World. Oddly, a comparison of Talking Machine World advance listings reveals that in some cases, the Operaphone release dates preceded those of the corresponding Pathé records by a month or more. This unusual reversal of normal client-label procedure might have been explained by the fact that Operaphone by then had become a full-fledged Pathé subsidiary. The corporate relationship was never acknowledged to the general public, but it was disclosed in various editions of Moody’s. [18]

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Operaphone’s June 1920 list. “Wilbur Fairbanks” was Noble Sissle in disguise. The many other Operaphone aliases are unmasked in the author’s Pseudonyms on American Records — Third Revised and Expanded Edition (Mainspring Press).

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By the autumn of 1920, there were subtle signs that all was not well with Operaphone. In September, the company opted for a cheaper black-and-white advertisement in TMW, instead of its customary two-color. The color was back in October, but the company did not advertise in December, at the height of the all-important holiday sales season, and no new releases appeared in TMW’s advance list that month. A new ad, with only ten releases rather than the usual twelve, appeared in January 1921—perhaps not coincidentally, the same month in which Pathé entered the lateral-cut market with its new Actuelle label.

A small ad in February, with no new releases listed, would be Operaphone’s last. A month later, TMW reported that the Operaphone Company was “winding up its affairs and will shortly withdraw from the records field.” [19] In the same issue, John Fletcher was listed as secretary of a freshly launched venture — the Olympic Disc Record Corporation. [20]

 

Coming Up:

Part 2 – Fist-Fight in the Boardroom: The Remington-Olympic Saga (1921)

Part 3 – A Not-So-Black Swan (1922–1923)

Part 4 – Beating a Dead Horse in Chicago (1924–1925)

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[1] “Noted Career in Record Field.” Talking Machine World (July 15, 1918), p. 96.
[2] Ibid. Victor moved into the Philadelphia studio in November 1901, according to recording engineer Harry O. Sooy, and did most of its recording there until early November 1907, when a  new Camden studio opened. Contrary to numerous discographies, no Victor recording was done in Camden during this period; for details, see “Camden, Philadelphia, or New York? The Victor Studio Conundrum (1900–1920),” on the Mainspring Press website.

[3] “Pretty Peggy” (Indestructible 940, released c. December 1908); and “Infantry Calls, No. 1” (Indestructible 1308, released April 1910).

[4] “Noted Career in Record Field,” op. cit.

[5] “To Make Phonographs.” Talking Machine World (December 15, 1914), p. 43.

[6] “All Departments Under One Roof.” Talking Machine World (November 15, 1916), p. 71.

[7] Operaphone Company: “Operaphone.” U.S. trademark application #122,654 (filed 9/13/1919).

[8] “Crescent Records for Quick Delivery” (ad). Talking Machine World (December 15, 1915), p. 19. Crescent’s fine-groove discs of 1915–1916 were simply Operaphone pressings under a different label. The company later used other suppliers.

[9] “Record Bulletins for February, 1916—Operaphone Manufacturing Company.” Talking Machine World (January 15, 1916), p. 81.

[10] “Announce New Record Labels.” Talking Machine World (August 15, 1916), p. 26.

[11] “To Revise Operaphone Catalog–All Operaphone Records to Bear Two Selections of the Same Type.” Talking Machine World (9/15/1916), p.82.

[12] “Announce New Record Labels,” op. cit.

[13] “Operaphone Corp. Moves Offices.” Talking Machine World (May 15, 1917), p. 6.

[14] “Noted Career in Record Field,” op. cit.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “Ten Inch Operaphone Records—Hill and Dale—Double Disc” (ad). Talking Machine World (April 15, 1918), p. 96.

[17] “Exhibitors of Talking Machines and Supplies at Music Show.” Talking Machine World (June 15, 1918), p. 101.

[18] “Pathé Frères Phonograph Co.” (lists Operaphone as Pathé subsidiary). Moody’s Manual of Railroads and Corporation Securities. New York: Moody Manual Co. (1922), p. 940.

[19] “Operaphone Co. to Withdraw.” Talking Machine World (Mar 15, 1921), p. 71.

[20] “New Concern to Make Records.” Talking Machine World (March 15, 1921), p. 3.

© 2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

 

John O. Prescott: From “Blue Indians” to Hopi Indians

John O. Prescott ranks high on the list of undeservedly forgotten recording pioneers. Although eclipsed by his brother Frederick (founder of the International Zonophone Company and the Berlin-based International Talking Machine Company, the producers of Odeon records), John O’s accomplishments — which ranged from co-founding what would become the Nipponophone Company in 1910 to serving as Gennett’s chief technician in the 1920s — were equally impressive.

John Prescott’s role in the American Record Company (which was backed by brother Fred’s Odeon operation) and its marketing arm, Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott, is covered in detail in American Record Company, Hawthorne & Sheble, International Record Company: Histories and Discographies (Bryant & Sutton, Mainspring Press, 2015) and need not be repeated here. What we’ll be examining in this article is Prescott’s career after American Record’s demise.
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The American Record Company discs — nicknamed “Blue Indian records” by the trade, for their distinctive blue pressings and American Indian trademark — were quite successful until Columbia succeeded in shutting the company down for patent infringement in January 1907. [1] The partnership split, with Ellsworth A. Hawthorne and Horace Sheble regrouping as the Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company, and John Prescott going his own way. Little more was heard of Prescott until November 1907, when The Talking Machine World reported, “He left last week for a fortnight’s hunting on Long Island, and on returning he may have something of interest to announce to the trade relative to his work in a fresh field.” [2]

The “something of interest” probably was the Twoforone Champion Record (presumably a double-sided disc), for which Prescott filed a trademark application on February 24, 1908. [3] Prescott had been quietly preparing to resume record production ever since the collapse of the American Record Company. In January 1907 he had applied for a U.S. patent on a new pressing process that included a provision for double-sided discs. [4] Two months later, TMW reported that he had taken over the former American Record Company studio, which he was managing in the guise of “The Laboratory Association.” [5] But with the means of production all in place (but not the necessary patents, assuming it was to have been a lateral-cut disc), Champion apparently failed to launched.

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Prescott’s trademark filing for Champion Records (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office).

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Instead, Prescott retired to his home in Summit, New Jersey, where his new neighbor was brother Fred (who, having sold his interest in International Talking Machine and returned home a wealthy man, was now happily engaged in his new hobby of raising chickens). But Prescott could not remain idle for long, and in May 1909 he sailed on the Lusitania for what was to have been a brief visit to London. Instead, he ended up on an extended tour that took him from England and France (where he was highly impressed by Emil Pathé’s demonstration of the vertical-cut disc) to Russia, then on to China and Korea—and, finally, to Japan, where his career would soon take an unexpected turn. Prescott was no fan of the country, as he made clear upon his return in August 1909. “Excuse me from permanently living in Japan,” he declared. “The beautiful pictures we see there of entrancing landscapes … are on postal cards only … Nobody has any money excepting the very rich, and they are comparatively few in the teeming millions of ordinary Japs.” [6]

Back in the U.S., Prescott leased the Laboratory Association studio to the Sonora Phonograph Company in September 1909. The company was planning to produce its own discs in both vertical- and lateral-cut formats (Sonora’s April 1910 TMW ad depicted a vertical-cut Sonora disc and a lateral-cut Crown disc, although the latter is not known to have been produced). However, Prescott does not appear to have had any involvement with the company, other than as landlord. The studio initially was managed for Sonora by former Zonophone engineer George Cheney, who departed for Phono-Cut before production got fully under way. [7]

In the meantime, Prescott had returned to Japan, despite his professed dislike of the place. In January 1910, The Talking Machine World reported that he was managing a recording studio in Tokyo. [8] The owner of that studio (whose name was not given by TMW) was the Japan-American Phonograph Manufacturing Company, Ltd., the only record manufacturer operating in Japan at that time. [9] Financed, owned, and managed by American businessmen, including Prescott, the company initially produced the Symphony Record label.

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The now-rare Symphony label was soon supplanted by the Nipponophone brand. Nipponophone got its start as the sales agent for the Japan-American Phonograph Manufacturing Company. (Author’s collection)

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Japan-American’s sales agent was the Nipponophone Company, which soon substituted its own Nipponophone label for Symphony. By the autumn of 1910, the Japan-American / Nipponophone combine was producing and marketing records on a fairly large scale under Prescott’s management.

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Prescott (seated at left) in Japan, 1910

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In addition to his expertise, Prescott brought along a ready-made catalog of Western recordings — the American Record Company masters. Nipponophone’s “Foreign Records” catalog of c. 1910–1911 included a substantial number of old American recordings that were renumbered and offered in new couplings, sans artist credits, with the occasional amusing mistranslation  (“A Gay Gossoon” became “A Gay Cartoon,” “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend” became “Dream of the Rabbit King”). [10] The records were intended for foreign residents and tourists, but demand for them must have been meager, and they are extraordinarily rare today. A badly damaged specimen, showing the original American numbers in the wax, was found on the West Coast many decades ago. A second specimen was later reported, but as so often happens, the supposed owner did not respond to a request for a confirming photograph or other proof of its existence.

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A page from Nipponophone’s “Foreign Record” catalog listing anonymous reissues from American Record Company masters. The uncredited artists included Arthur Collins, Byron G. Harlan, Frank C. Stanley, Len Spencer, and Steve Porter. (Bryant Papers, Mainspring Press)

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By the end of 1910, Prescott had enough of Japan. He resigned from the Japan-American Phonograph Company, and his place was taken by Thomas Kraemer, [11] who had been associated with the Hawthorne & Sheble Manufacturing Company. Prescott’s stay had done nothing to improve his opinion of that country, its climate, or its workforce. Upon his return to the States in early 1911, he complained,

“The air is so humid that you soon fall into a condition of lassitude difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. To be sure, if you can adapt yourself to Oriental ways; that is, take things as they come in an indifferent, easy-going way, perhaps one could manage. An active American, coming from home full of life, snap, and ginger, and wanting to take hold and accomplish something the way we do it here, is forced to give up or become Orientalized. Excuse me, I am not built that way.” [12]

In June 1911, Prescott departed once again for Europe, where he “expected to look the trade over a little” before attending the coronation of George V in London. [13] Perhaps not coincidentally, his trip occurred at about the time that the London-based Disc Record Company, Ltd., acquired some American Record Company masters, which were parceled out to Britannic, Defiant, Pelican, The Leader, and other minor labels for the British and export markets. Whether the masters came from Prescott, from the Lindstrom organization (which had taken over the International Talking Machine Company’s assets), or from some other source, has not been established.

Little more was heard of John Prescott until August 1912, when The Talking Machine World reported that he had been in Constantinople for “a year or more,” managing an unnamed record company. [14] For the next eight years, Prescott’s name would be largely absent from the American trade papers.

Prescott eventually resurfaced in the 1920s. In 1920, brother Fred had placed some rather boastful ads in The Talking Machine World soliciting work as a consultant, but it was John who landed a steady job, at the Starr Piano Company’s Gennett Records division in Richmond, Indiana.

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Brother Frederick in search of work, 1920 (Talking Machine World)

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In August 1921, Gennett resumed recording in Richmond, after a hiatus there of nearly five years. [15] John Prescott was hired as chief technician of the Richmond facility, with duties that included wax formulation and oversight of the pressing plant. He also seems to have had some say in regard to master approval, and notes referring to “J. O” are sprinkled throughout the Richmond recording ledgers of the mid-1920s. It’s tempting to speculate that he was responsible for naming the company’s budget-priced Champion label, hearkening back to his aborted 1908 venture, but documentary evidence of that is lacking.

The “Blue Indian” man finally came face-to-face with actual Indians in May 1926, as part of a Gennett team that traveled to Arizona’s Grand Canyon to record traditional Hopi songs. The expedition was undertaken in association with the Smithsonian Institution, under the supervision of Dr. J. Walter Fewkes, head of the Smithsonian’s Department of Ethnology. Music Trade Review reported that the Santa Fe Railroad was assisting in moving the recording apparatus from Richmond and had obtained government permission to transport the Indians and their ponies the one-hundred miles from their reservation to the Grand Canyon.

Along with Gennett recording engineer Ezra C. A. (Wick) Wickemeyer, Prescott oversaw the cutting of fourteen masters (# 12526 – 12537, with a single take each for first ten sides, and two takes each for last two) in a makeshift studio at the El Tovar Hotel. The company, having experienced mixed results in its initial attempts at electrical recording, dispatched its more trustworthy acoustic equipment. Twelve masters were received in Richmond on June 2, followed by the two alternate takes on June 15. The masters were processed for commercial release under standard Gennett catalog numbers, after which they were deposited with the Smithsonian. [16]

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KAKAPTI: Ma’Qutu (Rabbit Hunt) (as “Makwatu”)  
El Tovar Hotel. Grand Canyon, Arizona: Late May 1926
Gennett 5759 (mx. 12530)

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Exactly when Prescott left Gennett has not been discovered, but he apparently continued to work in the sound-recording field at least into the early 1930s. On January 27, 1929, he and Frederick A. Kolster filed a patent on a photo-electric sound-recording system that they assigned to the Federal Telegraph Company of Newark, New Jersey. [17] After that, Prescott’s trail grows cold. He died in Pasadena, California, on July 14, 1946.

 

[1] American Graphophone Co. v. American Record Co., 151 F. 595.

[2] Untitled notice. Talking Machine World (November 15, 1907), p. 79.

[3] Prescott, John O. “Twoforone Champion Record.” U.S. Trademark application #32,975 (filed February 24, 1908). Prescott was well acquainted with double-sided pressing methods. American Record had pressed double-sided discs as special-order items, under Ademor N. Petit’s patent #749,092, which was controlled by Frederick Prescott. Assuming the Twoforone was double-sided and had been launched in a timely manner, it likely would have beaten Columbia’s Double Disc to market.

[4] Prescott, John O. “Mechanism for Making Sound Records.” U.S. Patent #847,820 (filed January 15, 1907).

[5] Untitled notice. Talking Machine World (March 15, 1907), p. 39.

[6] “’Talker’ Conditions in Foreign Countries.” Talking Machine World (September 15, 1909), p. 41.

[7] “Geo. K. Cheney to Boston.” Talking Machine World (May 15, 1910), p. 14.

[8] “J. O. Prescott in Japan.” Talking Machine World (Jan 15, 1910), p. 3.

[9] “The Talking Machine Trade in Japan.” Talking Machine World (January 15, 1911), p. 4.

[10] The Nipponophone Company, Ltd. “Foreign Records” (Tokyo, c. 1910–1911). A listing of the Nipponophone issues can be found in American Record Company, Hawthorne & Sheble, International Record Company: Histories and Discographies (Bryant & Sutton, Mainspring Press, 2015), available from Mainspring Press.

[11] Untitled notice. Talking Machine World (April 15, 1911), p. 30.

[12] “Returns from Japan.” Talking Machine World (February 15, 1911), p. 35.

[13] “J. O. Prescott in Europe.” Talking Machine World (July 15, 1911), p. 54.

[14] “A Visitor from Turkey.” Talking Machine World (August 15, 1912), p. 25.

[15] “Starr Recording in New York.” Talking Machine World (February 15, 1917), p. 100. Gennett recorded in Richmond during 1915–1916, using often-obscure Midwestern artists. Recording activities were moved to New York in late 1916 or early 1917, to take advantage of better-known East Coast talent and accommodate those who “found it rather inconvenient to travel out to Richmond.” Regular recording sessions resumed in Richmond on August 20, 1921, according to the Gennett ledgers.

[16] “To Record Hopi Indian Songs on Gennett Records.” Music Trade Review (May 29, 1926), p. 81.

[17] Prescott, John O., and Frederick A. Kolster. “Sound-Reproducing System.” U.S. Patent # 1,776,046 (filed January 7, 1929).

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Mainspring Press Books: Going, Going (and Soon to Be Gone)

Just a reminder that Mainspring Press has discontinued production of CDs and books as it begins the transition to online data delivery, in affiliation with the Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR) at the University of California–Santa Barbara.

We recommend ordering any titles of interest as soon as possible. Several popular books (including Recording the ‘Thirties and The Pathé-Perfect Discography, Vol. 1) have already sold out, and others are in short supply. All CDs have also sold out.

We won’t be reprinting any titles once the current inventory is sold — and buying these books on the used-and-collectible market (if you can even find copies) is often a very pricey proposition. Don’t miss out!

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UPDATE: Mainspring’s long-awaited American Zonophone 7″ and 9″ discographical database has now been incorporated into DAHR (there will be no print edition of this material). It’s the most highly detailed data ever published on these rare recordings, including little-known information on remakes, altered masters, relabelings, reissues, catalog listing dates, artist pseudonyms, and other fine details you just won’t find anywhere else — plus an illustrated history. And it’s free.

 

Free Personal-Use Download: Brian Rust’s Complete “Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897-1942” (6th and Final Edition)

Response to the initial Personal Use Edition of the late Brian Rust’s JR-6 (1917-1934) has been so positive that we’re now making the complete work (1897-1942) available free of charge for the benefit of the collecting and research communities, in keeping with Brian’s wishes.

This edition is in Adobe Acrobat only. (A plain-text file is not being provided, but text files can be created from Acrobat by various methods. Please note that we are unable to provide any technical assistance in this regard; information can be found in your Acrobat or word-processor documentation, or online.)

Be sure to open the Bookmarks sidebar, on the left side of the screen, for easy navigation through the entries. Abbreviation lists  will be found at the end of the file. Indexes are not included, nor are they needed any longer, thanks to Acrobat’s superior search-engine capabilities.

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BRIAN RUST’S
JAZZ & RAGTIME RECORDS, 1897-1842

Free Complete 6th Edition, for Personal Use Only (~ 10mb)

 

LICENSE INFORMATION: By downloading this file, you signify your understanding of and agreement to the following terms:

All data in this work have been placed in the public domain (i.e., released from copyright) by Mainspring Press LLC, the sole copyright holder in this work by 2001 contractual assignment from Brian Rust.

You may copy, print out, distribute, alter, and/or incorporate this data in other works free of charge and without permission, for personal, non-commercial, non-profit use only, provided that you fully cite the source.

Mainspring Press retains the full and exclusive worldwide commercial publication rights (as distinguished from copyright) in this work. This work may not be published or otherwise distributed commercially, by any method (including but not limited to print, digital, and/or online media) without the prior written consent of Mainspring Press.

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Note: Please do not send additions and corrections to Mainspring Press; we are not producing any further editions of this work.

Some Corrections to Johnson & Shirley’s “American Dance Bands,” from Vic D’Ippolito’s Date Books

Horn-man Vic D’Ippolito’s 1920s date book is the sort of primary-source documentation (like Ed Kirkeby’s files) that causes discographers to salivate. The late Woody Backensto transcribed D’Ippolito’s original data in the late 1950s, a portion of which was published in a special (and now quite rare) October 1958 supplement to Record Research magazine. It’s since been largely overlooked — not least of all by Brian Rust and followers Johnson & Shirley, none of whose dance bands discographies include this information. So to set the records straight, here are a few nuggets we’ve uncovered in just our initial skim:

BLACK SWAN 2106
Brashear’s California Orchestra: Crinoline Days / Lady of the Evening

ADB UNDOCUMENTED IDENTITY AND DATE:
Nathan Glantz’s Orchestra (c. late 10/ 1922)

IDENTITY AND ACTUAL DATE IN D’IPPOLITO LOG:
“Sam Lascabza” [sic? Mike LoScalzo?]  (11/28/1922)

A bit of a mystery here. Backensto interpreted  D’Ippolito’s entry to read “Lascabza,” which could easily be a misreading on his part, or a misspelling on D’Ippolito’s part, for LoScalszo. We’ve not found a Lascabza or a Sam LoScalzo making records at this time, but Mike LoScalzo’s band was recording for Olympic (masters from which were frequently issued on Black Swan under pseudonyms); thus, he seems the most likely suspect. At any rate, there’s nothing in D’Ippolito’s entry to suggest Glantz.

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BLACK SWAN 2110
Laurel Dance Orchestra: Burning Sands / You Remind Me of My Mother

ADB UNDOCUMENTED IDENTITY AND DATE:
Listed as an actual orchestra (c. 12/ 1922)

IDENTITY AND ACTUAL DATE PER D’IPPOLITO LOG:
“Sam Lascabza” [sic? Mike Loscalzo?] (11/28/1922)

Same comments as above. The “Laurel Dance Orchestra” pseudonym also appears on other Black Swan issues confirmed as LoScalzo’s.

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CAMEO 289
Blue Bird Dance Orchestra: Whistling
CAMEO 290
Blue Bird Dance Orch: Teddy Bear Blues

ADB UNDOCUMENTED IDENTITY AND DATE:
Possibly Arthur Lange (c. late 10/1922)

ACTUAL IDENTITY AND DATE PER D’IPPOLITO LOG:
Al Burt’s Orchestra (12/14/1922)

“Blue Bird Dance Orchestra” isn’t so much a pseudonym as an incomplete artist credit, probably used because Al Burt was an Edison artist at the time. Burt’s band was appearing at the Bluebird Dancing Palace, as confirmed by a check made out to Burt that was endorsed by the dance-hall, which survives at the Edison National Historic Site.

“Teddy Bear” is an under-appreciated little item (as one might expect of a record condemned to Arthur Lange Hell by the supposed experts), with D’Ippolito front-and-center:

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CAMEO 724
Mike Speciale’s Orchestra: Something’s Wrong

CAMEO 727
Mike Speciale’s Orchestra: Cross Words

ADB UNDOCUMENTED IDENTITY AND DATE:
Orchestra identity is correct, but Vic D’Ippolito not shown in the undocumented personnel listing  (c. 4/20/1925)

ACTUAL IDENTITY AND DATE PER D’IPPOLITO LOG:
Vic D’Ippolito is present (4/21/1925)

 

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VOCALION 14475
Broadway Syncopators: Without You

ADB UNDOCUMENTED IDENTITY AND DATE:
Ben Selvin’s Orchestra (c. 12/6/1922)

ACTUAL IDENTITY AND DATE PER D’IPPOLITO LOG:
Emil Coleman’s Montmartre Orchestra (12/4/1922)

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ACTUAL RECORDING DATES FROM THE D’IPPOLITO BOOK (ADB BAND IDENTITIES ARE CORRECT):

Cameo 256: 9/13/1922 (Apparently for the remake session [takes D-F], based on the master-number gap between these sides and those on the other two sides [takes A-C] from this session) (ADB: c. 7/1922)
Cameo 265 (both sides): 9/13/1922 (ABD: c. 8/20/1922)
Cameo 273 (both sides): 10/13/1922 (ADB: c. 9/20/1922)
Cameo 274 (both sides): 9/25/1922 (ADB: c. 9/19/1922)
Cameo 713 (both sides): 4/7/1925 (ADB: c. 4/6/1925)
Cameo 727 (both sides): 4/21/1925 (ADB: c. 4/20/1924)
Federal 5244 (both sides): 1/5/1923 (ADB: c. 1/1923)
Federal 5245 (Starlight Bay): 1/5/1923 (ADB: c. 1/1923)
To be continued….

 

CHARM: Another Outstanding Online Discographical Project

Not as widely known as the Discography of American Historical Recordings (although it certainly deserves to be), the UK-based CHARM website offers another outstanding online discography — in this case, of historical classical and operatic recordings. Hosted by the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music, CHARM is partnership of Royal Holloway, University of London (host institution) with King’s College, London, and the University of Sheffield.

CHARM is the perfect complement to DAHR, offering hard-to-find data on foreign as well as domestic recordings, primarily from the 1920s onward. The database includes much of The Gramophone Company’s 78-rpm output (from original file data compiled by the late Alan Kelly), as well 78s and some LP series from numerous other US, UK, and European companies, including Columbia and Decca, from data supplied by Michael Gray. *

The CHARM site includes a very flexible search engine, and results can be downloaded as comma-delimited text (.csv) or Microsoft Excel files. Here’s a small part of the results from our search on Cesare Formichi’s Columbia recordings:
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In addition, almost 5000 streaming sound files are available via the Find Sound Files facility. Sound files are transferred from 78-rpm discs held by the King’s Sound Archive at King’s College London.

Like DAHR and the affiliated National Juke Box site from the Library of Congress, CHARM is an entirely free service, with no registration or log-in required.

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* Dr. Alan Kelly compiled the monumental His Master’s Voice Discography for Greenwood Press during its glory days in the 1990s; when new owners pulled the plug, he completed the project on his own, self-publishing the entire run on a set of inexpensive CDs. In 2007 he was honored with the Association for Recorded Sound Collections’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael Gray — besides being one helluva nice guy — has had a distinguished career that includes a long run as director of the Voice of America’s Research Library and Digital Audio Archive projects. He served as series editor for Greenwood Press discographies, has written numerous books and articles, and is the recipient of ARSC’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

The First Jazz Record Did Not Sell a Million Copies — Here’s the Evidence from the Production-History Cards for Victor 18255

Believe the old tale that the first jazz record (Victor 18255, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band) sold a million copies? Or more?

Not even close — and we finally have the evidence from the Victor Talking Machine Company itself.

We recently got the welcome news from record researcher and Phonostalgia host  Ryan Barna that microfilm copies of the “missing” blue production-history cards for Victor 18255 have been found in the Sony archives by Sam Brylawski — filed not under 18255, but under the catalog number of RCA’s 1967 LP reissue (LPV-547)! We then double-checked with Victor expert John Bolig, who was also able to locate his scans of the cards as well, and kindly forwarded them.

The most important news: The blue card states that 250,983 copies of Victor 18255 were pressed. Far short of the common million-seller claim, but more in line with what we’d expect for a best-seller of the period. Assuming this figure is correct, actual sales would have been a bit less (deducting free copies, breakage, dealer returns, leftover inventory destroyed when the record was deleted, etc.). In the interest of full disclosure, the blue-card figures could be off a bit, as John notes:

“Many years later somebody counted the pressings for a trial, and the company reported 250,983 copies had been pressed UP TO THAT TIME. I don’t know when that trial happened, but the record was deleted from the 1927 catalog. If the trial was earlier, more copies may have been pressed. If it was later, then the total is probably final and presumably accurate.”

It’s possible that this was the 1943 RCA–Decca trial, in which RCA submitted a tally of annual Victor record sales from 1901 through 1941. If so, 250,983 copies would likely have been the final tally; and presumably a reasonably accurate one, since the annual tally was formally entered into evidence at the trial.

Whatever the case, this is the only primary-source document  located in the Victor archives so far that relates to the sales of 18255  — and as such, we trust it far more than the claims of some aging ODJB band members, who didn’t produce any documentary evidence to back up their boast, or the countless pop-culture writers who have uncritically swallowed that tale.

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We don’t have permission from Sony to reproduce the card scans here. But the other key bits of information relating to Victor 18255, as relayed by both Ryan and John from the blue card and recording ledger information, are confirmation that these recordings were indeed originally made as trials, and were not accepted and assigned master numbers until March 1; that testing was not completed and approved until March 10 (eliminating any possibility of the March 5 release claimed by Rudi Blesh and others); and that the record was assigned to the May 1917 supplement (which would have been issued in late April). John suspects that the “March 1917 Special” notation might have been added to the card at a later date:

“The blue card for ‘Dixieland Jass Band, One Step’ (‘That Teasin’ Rag’) has handwriting on it that may have been added when the record was issued on LX-3007 [in 1954], and somebody using that pen and much darker ink seems to have added “Mar 1917 Special” above the “Date listed” cell that reads May 1917. That notation about a special release does not appear on the card for the other side. The writer penned the letter S twice in the same distinctive style on the word “Special” and on the words “Side 1” [the latter on a line referring to the 1954 LP reissue, which also gives the track number]. I doubt that employee was at Victor for the 1917 release and later for the LP release.

“I have dealt with these cards most of my life, and I seriously doubt that a record sent to the lab on March 9th could have been listed in a March special announcement. The absence of the notation on the other card supports my belief that a March announcement was almost impossible given the time required to design and print labels, press records and prepare them for distribution.”

 

Ryan has done some excellent sleuthing for ads and other materials confirming that Victor 18255 was on sale in some locations by late April (although apparently not before that) — in other words, a few weeks earlier than the “official” May 17 release date, but far later than Blesh’s logistically impossible March 5 date. He’ll be posting those ads and revealing the results of his investigation (which has turned up many interesting details regarding the initial release that we’ve not presented here) on the Phonostalgia site — be sure to pay him a visit.

— Allan Sutton