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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Discography Update • Victor Orchestra Personnel (1904)

The Victor Talking Machine Company files prior to 1938 rarely list band and orchestra personnel, including its own (the pre-1938 Victor personnel listings in discographies like American Dance Bands are not from the recording ledgers, for the most part) — but this Victor roster offers valuable documentation of the Victor house orchestra’s chief members in 1904. This group was responsible for most of Victor’s orchestral accompaniments (which had just begun to replace the usual piano accompaniments at the time) in addition to the recordings it made under its own name. Arthur Pryor, who originally conducted the studio orchestra according to recording engineer Harry Sooy, had recently resigned to form his own band, leaving the group in Walter B. Rogers’ capable hands.

This group was originally assigned to Victor’s Philadelphia studio, then moved across the river when the Camden studio opened in 1907. (Despite what many discographies say, Victor did not operate a studio in Camden from late September 1901 until November 6, 1907; see Camden, Philadelphia, or New York? The Victor Studio Conundrum for details.) Victor’s New York studio orchestra, which didn’t become a permanent fixture until some years later, used different personnel and conductors, occasionally supplemented by “Camden men” (as the recording ledgers referred to them).

Some of the musicians pictured here, including C.H.H. Booth, were already nearing the end of their time with Victor. Others, including Theodore Levy (who later became a Victor studio conductor), remained with the company into the 1920s. Walter B. Rogers left Victor in 1916 to work for Paroquette and then, after that company’s collapse, the New York Recording Laboratories (Paramount), before joining the Brunswick staff in late 1919.