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The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

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The Recording Angel Trademark

The Recording Angel trademark was designed by Theodore Birnbaum, Managing Director of the Berlin branch of the Gramophone Company, in 1898, and was accepted by William Barry Owen, Managing Director of the entire company, in early June of that year. It was used on London Berliner issues as early as January 1899 (see illustrations above under Pre-Label or Berliner Labels.) The tademark used on paper labels shows certain differences in appearance from that used for the reverse of the issued record, due chiefly to the difference in size. That on the left below was used on the reverses of Berliner discs as early as March 1901, just before Fred Gaisberg left London for St. Petersburg. The Angel trademark shown on the right below is found on both 10- and 12-inch Schallplatte discs, but not on all of them.

GRAMOPHONE reverse
GRAMMOPHON reverse

The Recording Angel trademark on the left below was used on the reverse of 7-, 10-, and later also 12-inch discs. Early in 1903 the Victor Company began to issue a series of some 83 Gramophone & Typewriter recordings, with catalog numbers from 5000 to 5127. In October 1903 67 of these recordings, plus another 24 imports, were reissued in the 91000 series. All of these issues have the Angel trademark on the reverse as shown on the right below. Note that the two forms used by G&T and the Victor company are quite different.

Gramophone & Typewriter
Victor Talking Machine

 

 

trademark on label

In a letter of June 28, 1901, in anticipation of the soon to be released 10-inch recordings, Theodore Birnbaum remarked to Owen, "We note your remarks re large records and think your decision is a wise one. Shall we not, however, adhere to the plan of labeling the large records with a gold label and inscribe the same "Gramophone Concert Record manufactured by . . . etc., etc,?" Owen’s reply on July 2 was "We like the words Gramophone Concert Record very much. I think the label suggested is the one that should be used."

Recorded July 1901

The first Gramophone Company labels discs were black with gold lettering, and measured 95 to 110 mm. for 10-inch discs and about 75 mm for 7-inch discs in overall diameter. The basic design, shown above as of November 1901, showed the phrase GRAMOPHONE RECORD or GRAMOPHONE CONCERT RECORD in an arc above the Recording Angel trademark on 7- and 10-inch discs, respectively. Below the trademark and above the spindle whole was the company designation, "Manufactured by The Gramophone and Typewriter, Ltd., and Sister Companies." As noted elsewhere, the first labels printed for the Hanover plant had the raised "The" variant on both 7- and 10-inch labels.

 

The Gramophone & Typewriter Period

The Angel label period (1900–1909) can be divided into two major groups. The Gramophone Company was incorporated in England on August 23, 1899 as a limited company, renamed the Gramophone & Typewriter, Limited on December 10, 1900, and the Gramophone Company, Limited again on November 18, 1907. From December 10, 1900 to November 18, 1907 is the Gramophone & Typewriter, or G&T period. From the latter date to February 1909 is the so-called "pre-DOG," or GCL period. Both usually have gold letters. Labels of these two periods are usually named G&T and GCL, respectively, from the initials of the company designations, viz., Gramophone & Typewriter and Gramophone Company, Limited.

In October 1901 the Hanover plant manufactured 24,526 ten-inch records, approximately 800 per day, which were introduced as the first Gramophone Concert Records at the end of November 1901. They were pressed with black labels about 107 mm in overall diameter printed in gold, and carried the Recording Angel trademark. The black label remained in used throughout the acoustical era in one form or another. These issued discs may have included the series of nine recordings made by Maurice Renaud in September 1901.

The seven-inch Gramophone Record 43302, shown on the left below, was issued early in 1903. Bennett lists seven-inch discs as late as December 1905, while Kelly indicates that Franz Hampe was still making seven-inch recordings as late as May 1909 in Tiflis, Georgia, Russia. The ten-inch Gramophone Record G.C.-23360 in the center below was recorded in Warsaw in 1902. The twelve-inch Gramophone Monarch Record 052132, shown at the right, was recorded in Milan in October 1906. All three labels are of the G&T design, and show "TRADE" and "MARK" narrowly spaced, as seen on early issues.

Figure III.A.1.
7-inch
Figure III.A.2.
10-inch
Figure III.A.3.
12-inch

The language or country and the vocal range or instrument were printed to the left and right of the central hole, respectively. Below these were the title of the selection, including the large composition, e.g., opera, if necessary, the name of the artist(s), and usually the place where the recording was made. At the very bottom of the label was the catalog number. Variations during this early period involve mainly font types and sizes, as well as spacing of various parts of the lettering. (Author’s note: Since these first labels were printed in Berlin, the printers probably used Germanic rather than English fonts. A family of four fonts was designed in the last decade of the nineteenth century by a renowned painter and graphic artist, Otto Eckmann. Of the four fonts designed by him, I have chosen Eckmann as representative of the font used for the company designation.)

December 1901 London

January 24, 1902

Note the raised "The" variants

 

Recorded November 21, 1903
recorded in late 1906

The pressing on the left above is from stamper IIII, manufactured before February 19, 1903. The disc on the right is from stamper XI, probably made after October 1906, when the Red Celebrity label was replaced by the pink one shown, but before November 1907, when the company’s name reverted to the Gramophone Company, Limited. The recording on the left below was made in New York on March 17, 1901, while that on the right was recorded on February 7, 1908.

G&T Monarch label, pale green
GCL Monarch label, pale blue

The Monarch designation for twelve-inch discs was used on G&T and GCL labels from about June 1903 to February 1909, and on HMV labels from that date to August 1910, and even as late as 1924. The Recording Angel trademark occupied the upper half of the label, with the company designation (see below) just below it.

G&T Monarch Red Celebrity labels

 

The Sammarco and Marconi recordings with matrix numbers CON 707 and CON 722, respectively, were recorded by Will Gaisberg during his extended recording session in Milan in October 1903. This followed his brother Fred’s return from the first Far East tour.



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