Progress Report: Encyclopedia of American Record Companies and Producers, 1888 – 1950

PROGRESS REPORT:

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN RECORD COMPANIES
AND PRODUCERS, 1888 – 1950
By Allan Sutton

Projected Publication Date: Summer 2018

 

EARCP is still on track for a mid-2018 release. For those of you not already familiar with the project, it is a highly detailed, fully documented history all American companies and producers of commercial recordings (cylinder and disc) from the beginning of commercial record production in the late 1880s to the start of LP era in 1950.

We had originally planned to go directly to online-only release; however, we’ve received numerous requests for a printed version. Therefore, we are now planning to make the initial release in book form, currently estimated at 800 pages.

The following 1,129 entries, which are associated with thousands of individual labels, are in final fact-checking and copy-editing. Additional entries, primarily very small independent operations, are still works-in-progress:

 

A — A-1 Recording Co. • A-1 Records of America • Abbey Record Corp. / Abbey Records, Inc. • ABC-Eagle Recordings • Ace Record Co. • Acme Radio & Record Corp. • Acorn Records • Admiral Records, Inc. / Adam Records, Inc. • Advance Records • Adventure Record Co. / Adventure Records, Inc. • Advertiser Publishing Co., Ltd. • Advertisers Recording Service, Inc. • Aeolian Co., The • Aetna Music Corp. • Aguila Record Manufacturing Co. • Alabama Phonograph Co. • Aladdin Records • Alben Record Co. • Alco Recording Co. • Alco Research & Engineering Co. • Alert Records, Inc. • Alegene Sound & Radio Co. / Algene Recording Studios • Allegro Records • Allender Record Distributors • Allentown Record Co. • Allied (Phonograph And) Record Manufacturing Co. • Alpha Records, Inc. • Alvin Records • Am Records / American Music • Ambassador Records • American Elite, Inc. • American Glossite Co. • American Gramophone Co. • American Graphophone Co. • American Institute of Music, Arts & Drama • American Jazz, Inc. • American Music Publishing Co. • American Odeon Corp. • American Phonograph Co. • American Phonograph Record Co. • American Record Co. (I) • American Record Co. (II) • American Record Co. of California • American Record Corp.  • American Record Manufacturing Co. (I) • American Record Manufacturing Co. (II) • American Recording & Transcription Service • American Recording Artists / Ara Records • American Recording Co. • American Recording Laboratories • American Talking Machine Co. [I] • American Talking Machine Co. [II] • American Vitaphone Co. • Americana Records • Amigo Music Publishing Co. • Ammor Record Corp. / Ammor Record Co. • Amuke Record Co. • Ansa Records • Angelophone Records / Angelico Co. • Antillian Music Features, Inc. • Apex Recording Laboratory • Apex Recording Studios • Apollo Record Co. • Apollo Music Enterprises / Apollo Records, Inc. / Rainbow Record Shop • Appliances Co., The • Arcadia Records & Transcription Co., Inc. • Arco Records • Arden Recording Co. • Ardene Record Co. • Arista Record Corp. • Aristocrat Record Corp. • Arrow Phonograph Corp. • Art Floral Record Shop • Art Records Manufacturing Co., Ltd. • Art Service Music • Artist Records, Inc. • Artistic Records • Artists Music Corp. • Arto Co., The • Arvid Records, Inc. • Asa Records • Asch Recording Studios / Asch Records • Associated Cinema Studios • Associated Distributors, Inc. • Associated Music Publishers Recording Studios / Associated Transcriptions • Associated Studios Broadcasting & Recording • Atlas Record Co. • Atlantic Records • Atomic Record Co. / Atomic, Inc. • Atwood–Herscher Publications • Auburn Button Works • Audeon Corp. • Audience Records, Inc. • Audio Co. of America / Aca Recording Studios, Inc. • Autograph Records • Auto-Photo Record Co. • Avalon Record Co. • Ayo Records •

B — B. J. Exploitation Co. • Bacchanal Recordings, Inc. • Bachman Studio • Baclora Records • Baldwin Recording Studios, Inc. • Balkan Record Co. • Ballen Record Co. • Bama Record Co. • Bandwagon Records, Inc. / Bennett Records • Bang Records • Banner Records, Inc. • Barthel Records / Barthel, Inc. • Batt Masian Co. • Beacon Record Co. • Bebe Daniels, Inc. • Bee Bee Bee Records • Belgian Conservatory of Music, Inc. • Bell Record Co. / Bell Record Corp. • Bell Record Co., Ltd. • Bell Recording Corp. • Bell Records, Inc. • Bel-Tone Recording Corp. (I) • Beltone Recording Corp. • Bennett Records • Berger Enterprises • Berliner, Emile: American Gramophone Co. / United States Gramophone Co. (1893–1895) / Berliner Gramophone Co. • Berliner [H. S.] Recording Laboratories • Besa Records • Bethlhem Music Co. / Bethlehem Recording Laboratory • Bettini Phonograph Laboratory • Bibletone • Big Nickel Records • Big Town Recordings • Birdland Records • Birwell Corp. • Black & White Records / Black & White Recording Co. • Blazon Records • Blue Chip Record Co. • Blue Danube Records • Blu-Disc Record Co. • Blue Bonnet Music Co. • Blue Label Records • Blue Note Records • Blue Record Co. • Blue Ribbon Music Co. / Blue Ribbon Records • Blue Star Records • Blu-White Record Co., Ltd. • Bob Miller Enterprises • Bobby Gregory Records • Boney Records • Bongo Record Co. • Bop Records • Bornand Music Box Record Co. • Bost Records Co. • Boston Talking Machine Co. • Bradley, Richard & Associates • Bridgeport Die & Machine Co. • Brinckerhoff & Co., Inc. / Brinckerhoff Studios, Inc.–Time Abroad • Broadcast Recorders, Inc. • Broadcast Recording Studios / Broadcast Records • Broadway Reord Company • Bronze Recording Studio / Bronze Record & Recording Co. • Broome, George • Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. • Brunswick Radio Corp. / Brunswick Record Corp. • Bullet Recording & Transcription Co. / Bulleit Enterprises, Inc. • Burke & Rous • Burnette, Smiley • Burt (Manufacturing) Co. •

C — C & S Phonograph Record Co. • C. H. Bourne Recording Co. • Cadet Record Co. • Cadillac Record Co. (I) • Cadillac Record Co. (II) • California Record (Manufacturing) Co. • California Recording Co. • Cameo Record Corp. • Campus Christian Recording Corp. • Canzonet Record Co. • Capital Sound Studios • Capitol Records, Inc. • Capitol Roll & Record Co. • Capri Records • Cardinal Records, Inc. • CA-Song Record Co. • Castle Record Co.  (Los Angeles) • Castle Records, Inc. (I) • Castle Records, Inc. (II) • Cavalcade Music Co. • Cavalier Recording Co. • Cava-Tone Recordings • Cecille Music Co. • Celebrity Records Inc. • Celesta Records Co. • Celps Record (& Supply) Co. • Celtic Record Co., Inc. • Central Nebraska Phonograph Co. • Century Record Co. • Champion Record Co. • Champion Recording Corp. • Chance Record Co. • Changer Publications, Inc. • Charles E. Washburn Co. • Charm Records, Inc. • Charles Eckard Co. • Charter Records • Cherokee Record Co. • Chess Records • Chicago Central Phonograph Co. • Chicago Gramophone Society • Chicago Record Co. • Chicago Recording Studios, Inc. • Chicago Talking Machine Co. • Chief Record Co. • Cincinnati Record Manufacturing Co. • Circle Records / Circle Sound, Inc. • Clark Phonograph Record Co. • Clarion Record Co. • Clarion Record Manufacturing Co., Inc. • Classic Record Co. • Claude Record Co. • Clef Publications • Clef Records, Inc. • Cleveland Phonograph Co. • Click Record Co. • Clipper Records • Clover Records Co., Ltd. • Club Records • Co-Art Records Co. • Coast Record (Manufacturing) Co. • Cobra Records • Coda Record Co. • Coleman Recording Co. • Collectors Items, Inc. • Collegiate Recording Co. • Colonial Records, Inc. • Colony Record Co. • Colorado Phonograph Co. / Colorado & Utah Phonograph Co. • Columbia Broadcasting System: Columbia Recording Corp. / Columbia Records, Inc. • Columbia Phonograph & Related Companies: American Graphophone Co. / Columbia Graphophone Co. / Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Co. / Columbia Phonograph Co., Inc. / Columbia Phonograph Co., General • Columbine Records • Comar Records • Comet, Inc. • Commodore Music Shop / Commodore Record Co., Inc. • Compo Co., Ltd. (New York operations) • Command Records • Commercial Record Co. • Compass Record Co. • Concert Hall Society, Inc. • Concert Music Shop, Inc. • Concert Phonograph Record Co., Inc. • Consolidated Film Industries • Consolidated Phonograph Companies, Ltd. • Consolidated Record(ing) Corp. / Consolidated Recording Laboratories • Consolidated Records, Inc. • Consolidated Talking Machine Co. • Constellation Records • Continental Phonograph & Record Co. • Continental Record Co., Inc. • Cook Laboratories • Cormac Records • Coral Records, Inc. • Coronet Records, Inc. • Cosmo Records, Inc. • Country Music Co. • Courtney Records • Cova Recording Corp. • Covered Wagon Records • Cowboy Record Co. • Cozy Records • Crescent Music Corp. • Crescent Record Co. • Crest Records • Criterion Laboratories / Criterion Records, Inc. • Crown Record Co. • Crown Record Corp. • Crown Recording Corp. • Crown Records • Crystal Recording Studio • Crystal Tone Record Co. • Crystalette Records of California / Crystalette Records, Inc. • Cudahy Recording Corp. •

D — D. E. Boswell & Co. • Damon Recording Studios, Inc. / Damon Transcription Laboratory & Sound Service • Dana Records / Dana Music Co. • Danceland Record Co. • Dance-Tone Record Co. / Dance-Tone Records, Inc. • Dansrite Record Co. • Davis, Joe: Beacon Record Co. / Celebrity Records / Joe Davis Record Co. / Davis Record Corp. / Jay-Dee Records • Day Distributing Co. • Dc Records • De Luxe Record Co., Inc. • Decca Records, Inc. • Delmac Record Co. • Delray Recording Co. / Paradise Recording Co. • Delvar Recording Co. • Derby Records Corp. • Dial Records • Diamond Record Co., Inc. • Diamond Record Corp. • Diapason Records • Diccha Industries • Disc Co. /Corp. of America • Discos Allegro, Inc. • Discos Peerless • Discovery Records, Inc. / Discovery Records of New York, Inc. • Dixie Record Co. • Dolphin, John: Dolphin’s of Hollywood / Recorded In Hollywood • Dome Records (Inc.) • Domestic Talking Machine Corp. • Domino Phonograph Corp. • Domino Record Co. • Domino Records • Donett Hit Record Co. • Dot Records • Down Beat Recording Co. • Down Home Corp. • Down Home Record Co. • Down River Records • Down Town Recordings • Dublin’s • Dude Records • Dudley Records • Duke Record Co. • Duplex Phonograph Co. • Duranoid Manufacturing Co. • Durium Products Corp. / Durium Products, Inc.

E — E. A. Eily Record Co. • E. O’byrne De Witt & Son(S)  / James O’byrne Dewitt, Inc. • E. T. Herzog Recording Co. • E. T. Paull Music Co.  • Eagle Record Co. • Early American Dances • Eastern Pennsylvania Phonograph Co. • Ebony Records • Echo Recording Co. • Echo Records  [I] • Edison, Thomas A.: Edison Phonograph Co. / Works; National Phonograph Co.; North American Phonograph Co.; Thomas A. Edison, Inc. • Edison Phonograph Co. of Ohio • Edn Records • Eily Record Co. • Ekko Recording Corp. • Electric Recording Laboratories • Electrical Research Products, Inc. • Electro Broadcasters • Electro-Vox Recording Studios • Elite Record Manufacturers • Emanon Record Co. • Embassy Record Co. • Emerald Record Co. • Record Products: Emerald • Emerson Phonograph Co., Inc. • Emerson Recording Laboratories, Inc. • Empey Records, Inc. • Empire Broadcasting Corp. • Empire Record Co. / Corp. • Empire Recording Studios • Encore Record Co. • Englewood Records • Enterprise Records (Inc.) • Eslava Recording Co. • Esquire Record Co. • Esquire Records • Etna Recording Co., Inc. • Everstate Records • Everybodys Record, Inc. • Excellent Record Corp. • Excelsior Phonograph Co. / Excelsior & Musical Phonograph Record Co. • Excelsior Records • Exclusive Records • Exner Record Co. / F. B. Exner

F — F & P Records • Faith Records • Famous Record Co. • Famous Record Co., Inc., of New York • Famous Records, Inc. • Famous Singers Records, Inc. • Fanfare Records • Fargo Records • Favorite Recording Co. • FBC Distributing Co. • Federal Record Corp. • Federal Records • Fentone Enterprises • Fidelity Records [I] • Fidelity Records [II] • Fine Arts Recording Co. • Fine Recording Co. / Fine Recording Studios • Fletcher Record Co., Inc. • Flint Records, Inc. • Flexo Pacific Coast Record Corp. / Flexo Theater Record Co. • Flora Records • Florida Phonograph Co. • Florida Records • FM Records / FM Recording Co. • Folkraft Records • Folkways Records & Service Corp. • Ford, Mr. & Mrs. Henry • Fortune Records • Fox Record Co. • 4-Star Record Co. • 49th State Hawaii Record Co. • Frank’s Folk Tune Record Co. • Fran-Tone Records • Freedom Recording Co. • French-American Phonograph Distributors • Franwil Record Co. • Fraternity Record Co. • Friends of Recorded Music, The • Frisco Records • Frontier Records

G — Gaelic (Phonograph) Record Co., Inc. • Gala Record Co. / Gala Record Corp. • Gamut Records • Gee Bee Records • Geddins, Robert L. (Bob): Big Town Recordings / Down Town Recording, Inc. / Cava-Tone Recording • Gem Records, Inc. • Gene Austin Record Co. • General Phonograph Corp. • General Records, Inc. • General Sound Corp. • Gennett Recording Laboratories / Gennett Records • General Sound Corp. • Georgia Phonograph Co. • G. I. Records, Inc. • Gilt-Edge Record Co. • Glenn Wallichs Recording Studios • Globe Distributors • Globe Phonograph Record Co. • Globe Record Co. [I] • Globe Record Co. [II] • Glo Tone Records • Gold Medal Records, Inc. • Gold-Rain Recording Co. • Gold Seal Record Co. • Gold Tone Record Co. • Goldband Record Co. / Goldband Recording Studio • Golden Gate Record Co., Inc. • Golden Record Co., Inc. • Good Time Jazz • Goody Record Corp. • Gospel Record Co. • Gospel Trumpet Co. • Gotham Record Co. • Gotham Record Co. / Corp. • Gramophone Shop, The • Grand Central Music Co. / Rego Re cords • Grand Record Co. • Greater New York Phonograph Co. • Greek Record Co. • Green Recording Studios • Gregol Enterprises • Gregory Record Co. • Grey Gull Records, Inc. • Grimes Music Publishers • Guild Records, Inc. • Gold Star Records • Gulf Record Co., Inc.

H — H. K. S. Publishing Co. • H & M Laboratories • Hamp-Tone Records, Inc. • Handy Record Co. • Happiness Records • Harding, Roger • Hardman Record Co. • Hargail Records • Harlem Records, Inc. • Harmonia Record Corp. • Harmony Record Co. • Harmony Recording Laboratories • Harmony Records • Harms, Kaiser & Hagen • Harris Record Co. / Harris Recording Laboratories • Harry Lim Recordings • Harry Smith Recordings • Hart-Van Record Recording Co. • Haven Records, Inc. • Hawthorne & Sheble [Manufacturing] Co. • Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott • Headline Record Corp. of New York • Heart Records, Inc. • High Time Records • Hi-Lite Recording Co. • Hit Record Co. • Holiday Record Co. • Holiday Records • Holiday Records (of Hollywood) • Hollywood Enterprises, Inc. • Hollywood Flexo Record Co. • Hollywood House of Music • Hollywood International Records • Hollywood (Phonograph) Record Co. • Hollywood Recording Co. • Hollywood Records • Hollywood Star Records • Holmes Royal Record Co. • Hot Record Society / H. R. S. Recordings • Hot Rod Record Co. • Houston Records • Howard Records, Inc. • Hub Records • Hucksters Record Co. • Hunting, Russell • Hy-Tone Recording Co. / Hy-Tone Manufacturing & Distributing Co.

I — Ideal Records • Idessa Malone Distributors / Idessa Malone Enterprises • Imperial Record Co. (I) • Imperial Record Co. (Inc.)  (II) • Imperial Records, Inc. • Imperial Talking Machine Co. • Impresario Records • Indestructible Phonographic Record Co. • Independent Record Co. • Independent Recording Laboratories • Indigo Recordings, Inc. • “Ink,” Inc. • International Phonograph & Record Co. • International Record Collectors Club • International Record Co. [I] • International Record Co. (II) • International Recording Studio • International Records • International Records Agency • Intro Records • Iowa Phonograph Co. • Island Music & Recording Co. • Israel Record Co. • Ivory Recording Co.

J — J. & J. Clano • J. B. Allison Recording Laboratories • J. O. B. Records • J. W. Myers Standard Phonograph Record Co. • Jade Record Co. • Jamboree Records, Inc. • James D. Vaughan, Publisher • Jay-Gee Record Co., Inc. • Jazz Disc • Jazz Information Records • Jazz Ltd. • Jazz Man Record Shop • Jazzology Records • Jel Records, Inc. • Jewel Record Co. (I) • Jewel Record Co. (II) • Jim Beck Records / Jim Beck Recording Studios • Joco Records • Joe Davis Record Co. • John Currie Enterprises • John F. Dahl Recording Co. • Johnson Sound Recording Co. • Jones (Recording) Laboratories / Jones Research Sound Products   • Joy Records • Jubilee Records Co., Inc. • Jugoslavia Jewelry & Phonograph Co. • Juke Box Record Co. • Jump Records

K — Kansas City Talking Machine Co. • Kansas Phonograph Co. • Kappa Records, Inc. • Karl Zomar Library, The • Keen-O-Phone Co., Inc. • Keltic Record Corp. • Kem Records, Inc. • Kentucky Phonograph Co. • Keynote Records • Keystone Recording Co. • Keystone Records • Khoury’s Recordings • King Jazz, Inc. • King Record Co. • Kismet Record Co. • Ku Klux Klan–Affiliated Producers • K-W Record Corp.

L — La Bonita Records • La Marr Record Co. • Laborator Ed. Jedlicka • Laboratory Association, The • Lamb’s Recording Studios • Lambert Co., The • Lamplighter Records • Lark Record Co. • Lasso Record Co. • Latin American Records • Laurent Records, Ltd. • Lee Sales Co., Inc. • Leda Records Co. • Leeds & Catlin Co. • Leeds & Co. • Lei Record Co. • Leo Kupana’i Studio • Leslie Records, Inc. • Liberty Music Shop(S) • Liberty Phonograph Co. • Liberty Record Co. [I] • Liberty Record Co. [II] • Liberty Recording Co. • Library of Congress—Division of Music • Life Record Co. • Life Records • Lina Records • Lincoln, Benjamin • Lincoln Record Corp. • Lincoln Records, Inc. • Linden Recordings / Linden Records • Lindwood Recording Co. • Little Wonder Record Co. • Lissen Records, Inc. • Lloyd’s Novelty & Curio Shop • Lloyd’s Records • London Gramophone Corp. • Lone Star Music Publishers • Lone Star Publishing & Recording Co. • Louisiana Phonograph Co., Ltd. • Lucky Music Corp. • Lucky 7 Recording Co. • Lyraphone Co. of America • Lyric Phonograph Co.

M — M & S Distributing Co. • M & S Electric Co. • Macy’s Recording Co. • MacGregor & Sollie, Inc. / MacGregor & Ingram Recording Laboratories / MacGregor Transcriptions Studios • Maestro Music Co. / Maestro Record Co. • Macksoud, A. J. • Magnolia Records Co., Inc. • Main Stem Music Shop • Main Street Records • Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc. / Majestic Record Corp. • Majestic Records, Inc. • Major Records • Maloof Phonograph Co. • Manhattan Music Corp. • Manhattan Recording Laboratories • Manor Record Co. • Maratone Records • Margo Record Co. • Mar-Kee Records • Mars Records • Marsh Laboratories, Inc. • Marshall, Charles • Marshall Record Co. • Marvel Record Co. • Marvel Records • Mary Howard Recordings • Master Record Co. [I] • Master Record Co. [II] • Master Records, Inc. • Masterpiece Co. • Mastertone Record Co., Inc. • Maunay Records • Mayfair Record & Recording Corp. • Mayhams & Co-Ed Records • Mecca Records • Melford Record Co. • Mello-Strain Records, Ltd. • Mellow Music Shop / Mellow Record Co. • Mel-Mar Records • Melmore, Inc. • Melodisc Recording Co. • Melody Lane Recording Co. • Melody Moderne, Inc. • Melody Records, Inc. • Melody Trail Records • Melrose Records • Meltzer, Sam • Memo Records Corp. • Memphis Recording Service / Phillips Recording Service • Mercer Records • Mercury Record Corp. • Merit Records • Mero Records • Metro Records • Metropolitan Phonograph Co. • Metropolitan Record Co. • Metrotone Record Co. • M-G-M Records, Inc. / Loew’s, Inc. • Michigan Phonograph Co. • Mida Record Co. • Midget Music, Inc. / Midget Music Productions • Midwest Recording Co. • Miller & Hagen • Miller Publications, Inc. • Minnesota Phonograph Co. • Miracle Record Co. • Miltone Record Co. • Mirror Recordings • Missouri Phonograph Co. • Modern Music Records / Modern Records • Modern Record Co. • Monarch Records, Inc. • Monroe, John • Montana Phonograph Co. • Mood Records • Morrison Music Co. • Motif Record Manufacturing Co. • Movietone Music Corp. • Murray Singer Records • Music Art Records • Music Enterprises, Inc. • Music For Society Record Co. • Music, Inc. • Music-Mart Records • Music of The Orient Co. • Music On Parade Records • Music You Enjoy, Inc. • Musicart Records • Musical Phonograph Record Co. • Musicraft Records / Musicraft (Recording) Corp. • Mutual Records • Muzak (Transcriptions), Inc. • Muzicon

N — National Film & Recording Co.  • National Gramophone Corp. • National Phonograph Co. • National Record Co. • National Records Co. • National Vocarium, The • Nation’s Forum • Natural Hit Record Co., A • Natural Records • Neale Music / Neale Wrightman Publishers • Nebraska Phonograph Co. • New England Phonograph Co. • New Jazz Record Co. / Prestige Records • New Jersey Phonograph Co. • New Music Quarterly Recordings • New Orleans Bandwagon • New Orleans Record Shop • New York Phonograph Co. • New York Phonograph Recording Co. • New York Recording Laboratories • Newark Recording Laboratories • Norcross Phonograph Co. • Nordskog Phonograph Recording Co. • North American Phonograph Co. • North American Recording Co. • Novelty Record Co. • Numelody Records • Nutmeg Record Corp.

O — O’Dowd, Thomas • Ohio Phonograph Co. • Ohio Talking Machine Co. • Okeh Phonograph Corp. • Oklahoma Tornado Recording Co. • Old Dominion Phonograph Co. • Oliver Record Co. • Olympic Disc Record Corp. • Olympic Recording Co. • Opal Records • Opera Record Co. / Opera Recording Co. • Opera Records • Operaphone Co., Inc. / Operaphone Manufacturing Corp. • Opus Records • Ora Nelle Record Co. • Orchid Record Co. • Oriole Records Corp. • Orpheum Record Co. • Orpheus Record & Transcription Co. • Otto Heineman Phonograph Supply Co., Inc.

P — Pace Phonograph Corp. • Pacemaker Record & Transcription Co. • Pacific Record Co. • Pacific Coast Record Corp., Ltd. • Pacific Phonograph Agency / Pacific Phonograph Co. • Page Recording Co. • Palda Record Co. • / Pan-Am Transcriptions  / Pan-American Publications • Pan-American Record Co. / Birwell Corp. • Panhellenion Phonograph Record Co., Inc. / Panhellenic Record Co. • Parade Record Co. • Paradise Recording Co. • Paradise Records • Paradox Industries, Inc. • Paragon Records, Inc. • Paramount Record Manufacturing (And Recording) Co. • Paramount Recording Corp. • Paramount Records • Parkway Records • Parody Records • Paroquette Record Manufacturing Co., Inc. • Party Record Co. • Pathé Frères Phonograph Co. / Pathé Phonograph & Radio Corp. • Pavilon Recording Co. • Peacock Recording Co. • Peak Records, Inc. • Pearl Records • Pearson’s Productions, Inc. • Penguin Recording Corp. • People’s Artists, Inc. • People’s Songs • Perfect Record Co. • Peter Bacigalupi (& Sons) • Peter Doraine, Inc. • Pharos Record Co. • Philo Recordings • Phoenix Publications & Recordings • Phono Record Manufacturing Co. • Phono-Cut Record Co. • Phonograph Record & Supply Co. • Phonograph Recording Co. • Photo & Sound, Inc. • Phototone Records • Pilot Radio Co. / Corp. • Pioneer Recording Co. • Pix Records • Planet Record Co. • Plaza Music Co. • Pleasant Records • Plymouth Recording Co. • Polo Record Corp. • Polonia Phonograph Co. • Poloron Records • Polotone Music Corp. • Polyphone Co., The • Premier Radio Enterprises, Inc. / Premier Records • Premier Record Co. • Premium Record Corp. • President Records • Prestige Records • Preview Records • Producers Recording Co. • Process Record Co. • Public Records, Inc.

Q — Q.R.S Co. • Quaker Music Co. • Quality Records, Inc. • Quinn Recording Co.

R — Rabson’s Music Shop • Radio Artist Records • Radio Corp. of America: Victor Talking Machine Division / Radio-Victor Co. of America  / RCA Victor Co., Inc. / RCA Manufacturing Co. • Radio Recorders, Inc. • Radio-Rundfunk Corp. of America • Radio Transcription Co. of America, Ltd. • Rainbow Record Co. • Rainbow Records, Inc. / Rainbow Recording Corp. • Rancho Records • Raven Recording Co. • Raymor–Mccollister Music / Raymor Record Co. • Rec-Art Recordings / Rec-Art Studios • Record Broadcasting Corp. • Record Corp. of America • Record Corp. of New England • Record Manufacturing Co. • Record Merchandising Co. • Record Syndicate Trust • Recorded In Hollywood • Red Barn Recording Co. • Red Bird Recordings • Reed & Dawson / Reed, Dawson & Co. • Reeves Sound Studios / Reeves Soundcraft Corp. • Regal Record Co., Inc. • Regal Record Corp. • Regal Records • Regent Records • Regis Record Co. / Regis Records, Inc. • Rego Records • Reina Record Co. • Relax Records • Remington Records, Inc. • Relax Records • Renaissance Records • Rex Talking Machine Corp. • Reynard, James Kent • Rhapsody Records  [I] • Rhapsody Records  [II] • Rhumboogie Recording Co. • Rhythm Recordings, Inc. • Rhythm Records Co. • Rich-Art Enterprises / Records • Rich Publications / Rich-Art Enterprises, Inc. / Rich-Art Records • Rich Recordings • Rich-R’-Tone Record Co. • Richtone Record Co. • Rko Pathe Studios • Rodeheaver Record Co. / Rodeheaver Recording Laboratories • Robin Records • Rockett Record Co. • Rodeo Records • Rondo Records (Inc.) • Roost Records, Inc. • Roy Milton Record Co. • Roy Records • Royal Record Co. • Roycrofters, The • ’R-Tist Record Co. • Rumpus Record Co.

S — S & D Records • S & G Records • S & S Recording Studios • S. B. W. Recording Co. / Sobie Publishing • S. D. Records • Sacred Records, Inc. • San Antonio Phonograph Co. • San Antonio Records, Inc. • Sapphire Record & Talking Machine Co. • Sapphire Record Co. • Sarafian Sohag / Sokhag Record Co. • Sarco Record Co. • Sauvenair Records Co. • Savoy Record Co. • Scandinavian Music Co. • Scandinavian Music House • Schirmer Records • Schooler Record Co. • Schriber & Gustafson • Scoop Record Co. [I] • Scoop Record Co. [II] • Scoop Records • Scott Record Co. • Scranton Button Co. / Scranton Record Co. • Sears, Roebuck & Co.–Silvertone Record Club • Security Records • Seeco Records, Inc. • Select Records • Selective Record Co. • Sensation Record Co. • Sellers Co., The  / Sellers, Inc. • Sepia Records, Inc. • Serenade Recording Corp. • Serenade Records • Session Records, Inc. • Seva Record Corp. • Seymour Records • Sharp Record Co. • Siemon Hard Rubber Co. • Signature Record Co. / Signature Recording Corp. • Silver Spur Records • Silver Star Record Co. • Silver Star Recording Co. • Sittin’ In With Records, Inc. • Skyline Music, Inc.  • Slate Enterprises, Inc. • Solar Recording Co. • Solo Art Recordings • Sonart Record Corp. • Song Bird Record Co. • Song of the Month Club • Songcraft, Inc. • Sonora Phonograph Co., Inc. / Sonora Phonograph Corp. • Sonora Radio & Television Corp.–Sonora Record Co. Division • Sonorous Music Co., Inc. • Sorority Fraternity Records & Publications • Sound Studios of New York • South Dakota Phonograph Co. • Southern Record Corp. • Spanish Music Center / Coda Record Co. • Specialty Record Co., Inc. • Specialty Records, Inc. • Specialty Sales • Spikes Brothers Phonograph Co. • Spin Records, Inc. • Spire Records Co., Inc. • Spire Records, Ltd. • Spiro Record Corp. • Spokane Phonograph Co. • Spotlight Records, Inc. • Spotlite Record Co. • Square Deal Recording Co. • Staff Record Co. • Stanchel Record Co. • Standard Phonograph Co., Inc. [I] • Standard Phono / Phonograph Co., Inc. [II] • Standard Records, Inc. • Standard Talking Machine Co. (New York) • Stan-Lee Records • Stanley Recording Co. of America, Inc. • Stapleton Industries • Star Melodies Music Publishers • Star Record Co. • Star Talent Records • Starr Piano Co.–Gennett Records Division • State Phonograph Co. of Illinois • Steiner, John • Stellar Records, Inc. • Sterling Records, Inc. • Stinson Records / Stinson Trading Co. • Stork Record Co. • Strand Records, Inc. • Strong Record Co., Inc. • Sullivan Records • Sultan Recording Co. • Sun Recording Corp.  F • Sun Records (Detroit) • Sun Records (Memphis) • Sunbeam Recording Co. • Sunrise Record Corp. • Sunset Record Co. • Sunset Recordings • Sunshine Recording Co. / Sunshine Productions & Records • Super Discs • Superior Recording Co. • Supreme Records, Inc. • Swan Recording Co., Inc. • Swank Records • Swing Beat Records / Swing Time Record Co. • Swing-Master Record Corp. • Swing Record Co.

T — Talent Records • Talking Photo Corp. • Talk-O-Phone Co., The • Tanner Manufacturing & Distributing Co. • Taxco Recording Co. • Taylor-Lee Recording Co. • Tech-Art Recordings • Technicord Records • Tele-Records, Inc. • Tempo-Tone Recordings • Texstar Records • Tempo Record Co. of America • Tennessee Phonograph Co. • Tennessee Records • Texas Phonograph Co. • Theme Records • Thomas A. Edison, Inc.–Phonograph Division • Thomas W. Hatch, Publisher • Three Minute Record, Inc. • Thrillwood Records • Time Abroad, Ltd. • Time Record • Timely Recording Co. • Tin Pan Alley Records Co. • Titan Production Co. • Token Records • Tone Records • Top Record Co. / Top Records, Inc. • Top Tune Records • Top Tunes • Tops Music Enterprises / Tops Records • Tower Records • Town & Country Record Co., Inc. • Transcriptions Inc. • Trell Records • Trilon Record Manufacturing Co. • Tri-Color Records • Trident Records Corp. • Tri-State Recording Co. • Triumph Records • Trope Records • Trophy Record Co. • Tru Tone Productions, Inc. / Tru Tone Records, Inc. • Trumpis-Collar & Associates • Tune-Shop Music Publishers, Inc. / Tune Disk Record Corp. • 20th Century Records

U — U. S. Phonograph Co. • Ultra Record Co. • Union of Irish Industries, Inc. • Unique Music Publishers & Recording Co. • Unison Records • United Artist Records • United Broadcasting Co. • United Hebrew Disk & Cylinder Co. / United Hebrew Record Co. • United Hot Clubs of America • United Masters, Inc. • United Sound Studios / United Sound Systems • United Record Co. (Los Angeles) • United Recorders • United States Gramophone Co. • United States Phonograph Co. • United States Record Corp. • United States Record Manufacturing Corp. • Unity School of Christianity • Universal Phonograph Co. • Universal Record Co. • Universal Recording Laboratories / Universal Recording Corp. / Universal Records • Universal Recording Studios / Universal Record Co. • Universal Records • Universal Talking Machine (Manufacturing) Co. • University Records Corp. • Uptown Records • Urab Recording Studio (United Recording Artists Bureau) • Urban Record Co. • Utah Phonograph Co.

V — Value Records • Van-Es Recording Co. • Van Kampen Press • Vargo, Inc. / Vargo Record Co. • Variety Records, Inc. • Vega Records • Velvet Records • Velvet Tone Record Co. • Venus Records • Verdi Music Shops (E. E. Verdi) • Verne Recording Corp. of America • Vernon Records • Victor & Victor Predecessor Companies: Johnson Sound Recording Co. / Consolidated Talking Machine Co. / Eldridge R. Johnson / Victor Talking Machine Co. • Viking Record Co. • Vitacoustic Record Co. / Vitacoustic Records, Inc • Vocalion Records, Inc. • Vogue Recordings, Inc. • Von Battle Recording Co. • Vox Corp. of America • Vox Productions, Inc. • Vulcan Record Corp. • Vulcan Records

W — W & W Recordings & Distributors • Wabine Record Co. • Walcutt, Miller & Co. / Walcutt & Leeds / The Walcutt & Leeds Ltd. • Wallin’s Music Shop • Wallis Original Record Co. • Warner Recording Laboratories / Warner Record Co. • Webster Records • West Coast Phonograph Co. • West Coast Recordings • Western Pennsylvania Phonograph Co. • Western Records / Western Recording Co. • Western Recording Co. / Constellation Record & Distributing Co. • Western Recording Studios • Westminster Records • Wheeling Recording Co. • Williams & Rankin  • Williams, J. Mayo (“Ink”): Southern Record Corp. / Harlem Records, Inc. / “Ink,” Inc. / Mayo Music / Ebony Records • Whirling Disc • White Church Recording Co. • Willow Walk Industries • Winchester Sound • Winsett Recording Laboratory • Winston Holmes Music Co. • Wisconsin Phonograph Co. • Wonder Records • WOR Electrical Recording & Transcription Services / WOR Recording Studios • World Broadcasting System, Inc. / World Transcription Studios • World Records, Inc. • World’s Greatest Music • Wright Record Corp. • Wrightman, Neale: Neale Wrightman Publishers / Wrightman Music, Inc. / Wrightman Record Co. / Wrimus Co. • Wyoming Phonograph Co.

 Y — Yaddo • Yale Record Co. • Yerkes Recording Laboratories • Your Record Co.

Z — Zarvah Art Record Co. • Zenith Recording Co. • Zimra Corp. • Zora Record Co. / Zora Recording Studios

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110 Years Ago at the Victor Talking Machine Company (November 1907)

November 1907 marked the return of the Victor studio to Camden, from Philadelphia, after an absence of more than six years. The impending move got only a vague mention in that month’s Talking Machine World, in a story on a visit by distributor Max Landay, who said, “I understand the company will remove their recording laboratory from Philadelphia to Camden, into premises that are ideal.” The move was documented by Harry O. Sooy, Victor’s chief recording engineer:

During November [1907] we moved the Laboratory from 424 So. 10th St., Philadelphia, to the building S.W. Corner Front and Cooper Streets, Camden, N.J., in which we occupied the fourth floor. The first large type “D” recording machine was installed in the Camden Laboratory prior to our moving into same. [“D” refers to Wilbur N. Dennison, who assigned a large number of patents to Victor over the years.]

To repeat a point we’ve made often (and wish we didn’t still have to, but old myths die hard): Any discography showing a Camden recording location between early September 1901 and late November 1907 is in error. For a detailed, documented chronology of Victor’s early studio sites, see Camden, Philadelphia, or New York? Fact-Checking the Victor Studio Locations, 1901-1920.

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Here’s the complete pictorial section of Victor’s November 1907 catalog, courtesy of Victor expert John Bolig:

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By the way, John’s landmark Victor Discography Series titles are selling out quickly as Mainspring winds down its book operation. Several are already out of print, and remaining inventory is in very short supply. If there are any titles you need, hurry over to the Mainspring Press website and order while you still can!

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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.

 

 

 

Early Columbia Cylinder Phonograph Outfits (Chicago Projecting Company, c. 1901 – 1902)

Some tantalizing ads for Columbia cylinder outfits from a rare catalog issued by the Chicago Projecting Company (225 Dearborn Street). In addition to projectors, films, stereoptions and slides, and related items, the company stocked a wide array of Columbia and and Victor merchandise.

The catalog is undated but includes Victor Monarch “pre-matrix” discs that were recorded as late as October 1901, suggesting a late 1901 or early 1902 publication. By that time, high-volume molded cylinders were beginning to enter the market, and the ear-tubes, oversized “exhibition horns,” and Concert-type cylinders offered here were on the verge of obsolescence.

One page implies that the company was making its own cylinders, picturing an unbranded cylinder and bragging that “our records…made with much greater care than the ordinary records,” while another shows a Concert-type cylinder in a special Chicago Projecting Company box (but with a Columbia lid). In fact, they were all Columbia cylinders, using Columbia’s catalog numbers.

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The Phonograph – Lamp Combinations (1920s)

The Phonolamp was one of the early hybrids. The Electric Phonograph Corporation (New York) filed its trademark application on June 28, 1918, claiming use of the Phonolamp since “approximately” April 1, 1917. Several models were produced, including one mounted on a pole. Phonolamp also briefly marketed its own record label in 1921, mainly using masters from Grey Gull. The example above  was originally issued on Grey Gull L-1045 (mx. 11117).

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Modernola was another early combo producer. It filed its first trademark application on November 8, 1918, claiming use of the brand since August 5, 1918 (a later filing claimed July 1918 for first use). Unlike most hybrids, which used electric motors, this model used the traditional spring motor.

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One of the gaudiest phono-lamp combinations, Lampagraph advertised heavily during 1920–1921, but information on its manufacturer is lacking.

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Another obscure combination, the Fairy Phonograph Lamp also advertised during 1920–1921.

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If you enjoyed these ads, be sure to check out Vintage Phonograph Advertisements 1895–1925, available exclusively from Mainspring Press while supplies last:

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78 Online Discographical Projects • An Introduction to the Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR)

By now, many of you are familiar with the free online Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR) at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the largest and most exciting online discographical project to date. For newcomers, here’s a quick overview:

DAHR is an entirely free service, with no registration or log-in required. The database currently includes the following content, comprising more than 150,000 entries:

  • Victor Talking Machine Company recordings made in the United States through 1942, in Central and South America up to 1935, releases derived from masters recorded in Europe by the Gramophone Company, and trial recordings of new artists and sessions from which no discs were issued
  • Columbia Records 10″ domestic masters recorded between 1901 and 1934
  • Columbia Records 12″ domestic masters recorded between 1906 and 1931
  • Berliner Gramophone Co. domestic recordings from 1892 to 1900
  • OKeh masters recorded between 1918 and 1926
  • US Zonophone 10″ and 12″ masters recorded between 1904 and 1912 (In progress: 7″, 9″, and 11″ masters recorded between 1899 and 1905)

In the offing are Brunswick-Vocalion and (on Mainspring’s part) the complete American Record Corporation output, among many other projects. Data are obtained from original company documentation, material licensed from Greenwood Press and Mainspring Press (including our extensive William R. Bryant / Record Research Associates archive), and other trusted sources, and they undergo careful proofing and fact-checking by DAHR’s expert staff.

You can search by artist, title, catalog or matrix number, date, etc. Below are two results screens for a search on the U.S. Marine Band’s “Maple Leaf” rag, the first showing the details of the issued discs, and the second, all matrix details:
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With DAHR, you can also instantly generate full listings by artist, composer, etc.:
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Another nice touch — The listings contain links to the Library of Congress’ “National Jukebox” sound and label-scan files, when available. The library has already digitized more than 10,000 early Victor records, which can be heard in streaming format.

Clearly, this is the future of discography, and Mainspring is pleased to be a contributor. We hope you’ll visit the site often!

 

 

The Playlist • “Some Of These Days,” Four Ways (1910–1930)

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Four very different treatments of Shelton Brooks’ 1910 hit, beginning with a Victor release by studio singer Billy Murray in auto-pilot mode. Given what we know of Victor’s musical assembly-line of the period, Murray’s first encounter with the song quite likely came when a company representative handed him the score and gave him a few days to prepare for the recording.

The song might have died on the spot, given such treatment, but Sophie Tucker made it her own. She brought audiences to their feet (and folks of the sort who carped about “white coon shouters” to near-apoplexy), and it would serve as her signature tune for the rest of her career. Here are two of Tucker’s many recorded versions — the original, and a mid-1920s reworking with the Ted Lewis band that incidentally marks one of the earliest fruits of the Columbia-Okeh merger. Lewis was exclusive to Columbia, Tucker to Okeh; the fact that Columbia got the release was perhaps a not-so-subtle reminder of who was boss in the new relationship.

And finally, a full jazz treatment by The Missourians, the sensationally hot band that Cab Calloway had recently taken over. Within a few months he would begin adjusting personnel and reducing them to glorified accompanists, but here we have them in their final, untampered-with glory.

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BILLY MURRAY & AMERICAN QUARTET: Some of These Days

Camden NJ: December 27, 1910 (Released March 1911)
Victor 16834 (mx. B 9740 – 3)

Personnel not listed in the Victor files. The American Quartet at this time normally included Murray (lead tenor),  John Bieling (tenor), Steve Porter (baritone), and William F. Hooley (bass).

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SOPHIE TUCKER: Some of These Days

New York: February or March 1911 (Released May 25, 1911)
Edison Amberol 691 (four-minute cylinder)

The Edison studio cash books list Tucker four-minute sessions on February 17 and 24, and March 2, but do not indicate the titles recorded at each.

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TED LEWIS & HIS BAND with SOPHIE TUCKER: Some of These Days

Chicago: November 23, 1926
Columbia 826-D (mx. W 142955 – 2)

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CAB CALLOWAY & HIS ORCHESTRA (Cab Calloway, vocal):
Some of These Days

New York: December 23, 1930
Brunswick 6020 (mx. E 35880 – A)

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Dick Spottswood’s Columbia “C” Series Discography (1908 – 1923) • Free Download Now Available

We’re happy to announce that the next installment in Dick Spottswood’s Columbia ethnic-series discography is now available for free download. This section covers the C-prefixed series, which was intended for the Spanish-speaking markets — a tantalizing mixture of performances by Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other Latino artists (most of them recorded in their native countries by traveling Columbia engineers), operatic arias and light classics from domestic and imported masters, and various odd-and-ends “repurposed” from other catalogs.
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msp_columbia-cuba_1915-4

msp_columbia-mexico-1

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Click here
to download the discography in PDF format (approximately 5 megabytes). As with the previous installment, this material may be copied or distributed for personal use, provided that the source is cited. Sale or other commercial use is prohibited.

Dick’s latest update of his Columbia “E” series discography will be posted soon.

Now In Stock: “Race Records and the American Recording Industry, 1919–1945: An Illustrated History”

IN STOCK — ORDER DIRECTLY FROM MAINSPRING PRESS

MSP_race-records_cover

RACE RECORDS AND THE AMERICAN RECORDING INDUSTRY, 1919–1945: An Illustrated History
By Allan Sutton

388 Pages / 208 Illustrations
6″ x 9″ Quality Paperback

$39 US (Free Shipping)
$59 All Foreign (w/ Insured Airmail)

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MSP-race-records_contents

 

From the Preface:

Race Records and the American Recording Industry is the story of those remarkable companies and individuals who gambled on a new and often unpredictable market in the face of racial prejudice and entrenched business practices, and in doing so made the American recording industry more inclusive, and far more interesting, than it once had been.

This work takes a broad view of what were once termed “race records” — recordings intended primarily for the African-American market, which often were segregated in specially numbered series and not listed in the record companies’ main catalogs. Many modern writers associate race records solely with blues and gospel, the equivalent of assuming that rural whites bought only records of mountaineer tunes, or that Italian immigrants bought only opera. While blues and gospel made up a large portion of race-record offerings, they were only part of a broad spectrum that also included religious material of all sorts, jazz and dance music, mainstream pop, comedy and novelty selections, concert and classical material, and even the occasional country-music offering, all of which are explored in this work

Because the music itself has been amply covered elsewhere, this work instead focuses on the making, marketing, and distribution of race records prior to the late 1940s, exploring the ways in which those activities affected, and were affected by, conditions within the nation and within the recording industry as a whole. That is why (to respond in advance to inevitable criticism by Robert Johnson’s legions of fans) an entire chapter is devoted to Mamie Smith, whereas Johnson is covered in several pages. Were this a musical rather than a business and social history, the ratio, of course, would be reversed.

But Mamie Smith’s early records, whatever their musical shortcomings, had a profound impact on the recording industry, revealing a huge untapped market, opening the way for many other black artists to make records, and encouraging aspiring black entrepreneurs to get involved with record production, which until then had been completely controlled by whites. On the other hand, although Robert Johnson is now revered by mass-media rock stars and the pop-culture establishment (as much for the hoary legends surrounding him as for his music), in the 1930s he was just another talented but obscure local artist whose records went largely unnoticed outside of his home region, and who had no significant impact on the recording industry or American musical culture at the time his records were issued. Johnson receives as much coverage as he does mainly  because his story provides an excellent example of how the record companies handled, or mishandled, their race artists.

The book also debunks many common myths and misconceptions that stubbornly refuse to die, having been perpetuated for decades by writers who are content to parrot anecdotal material from questionable secondary sources. Some long-standing discographical errors have been corrected as well, based upon examination of primary-source materials that have been missed by earlier researchers…

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