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

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Scandinavian Recordings and Labels

[Author’s note Scandinavia includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The other Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, are also sometimes included because of their close historic and cultural relations to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.]

7-inch
Stockholm, March 1903
10-inch

The first recordings in Scandinavia were 119 7-inch discs in the A suffix series made by William Sinkler Darby in Stockholm on December 3-4, 1899, followed by 96 more in Copenhagen in late December, 1899.

7-inch Stockholm, March 1903
7-inch Copenhagen, April 1903

In March 1903 Franz Hampe made 82 seven-inch and 74 ten-inch recordings, using C (later k) and z (later L) suffixes, respectively, in Stockholm, and a further 81 seven-inch and 67 twelve-inch recordings in Copenhagen in April 1903. On June 13 The Gramophone Company established the Danish branch, Skandinavisk Grammophon AS, in Copenhagen, and on September 28 the Swedish branch, Skandinavisk AB, was founded in Stockholm. In Norway the Brødrene Johnsen Company was given the sole agency for Skandinavisk Grammophon A/S in December 1904. One should note here that some of the latter recordings have labels with Stockholm as the recording location, as seen in the figure on the right above. Will Gaisberg made further recordings in Stockholm in February 1904 and in Copenhagen at the Hotel National in March 1904.

Will Gaisberg made the first gramophone recordings in Norway at the Grand Hotel in Kristiania (now Oslo) on Thursday, December 8, 1904. The photography pioneer Adolf Østbye had the honour of being the first gramophone artist, with his parody of "Terje Vigen". The first recording sessions lasted until Saturday, December 10, and among other participating artists were: accordionist Carl Mathiesen, revue artists Agnes Haglund and Oscar Lerdahl, actor Henrik Klausen (see below), opera singers Gabrielle Bidenkap, Nathalie Hansen, Clara Hultgren, Halfdan Rode and Thorvald Lammers, plus the Guldberg Quartet. Before this time several Norwegian artists had made recordings other places than in Oslo. Edvard Grieg had made his piano recordings in Paris in May 1903, while the opera singer Ellen Guldbranson in Copenhagen and the singers Inga Berentz and Magna Lykseth-Skjerven recorded in Stockholm in October 1904.

Kristiania, December 1904
Pre-DOG, Stockholm, 1907

The disc shown below was recorded in St. Petersburg. Liliedahl lists this recording with the matrix number 157zo, and places it in 1901/2. Kelly lists it in his Old Zonophone Catalogue and in the Russian Zonophone Catalogue, as having been recorded in 1904 in a zo matrix series of 360 recordings assigned to Franz Hampe beginning in Berlin. In November 1904 Will Gaisberg made a series of 42 7-inch, 52 10-inch, and 2 12-inch recordings in Helsinki (then Helsingfors), following the series made in Copenhagen in March 1904. See also below under Zonophone Labels.

French Recordings and Labels

The first French language discs were Berliners. The three discs shown below were all recorded in Paris and processed in Hanover. They all have REPRODUCED IN HANOVER on the reverse. The top disc, Berliner 35048, matrix 3325, is from the unlettered series, and was recorded in July 1899. All entries are sunk, indicating that all were entered on the original zinc plate.

Berliner 35048, matrix 3325

The two discs shown below both show raised entries throughout. The top disc, Berliner 30036, matrix 3644, was recorded by Fred Gaisberg in Paris in August-September 1901. The lower disc, Berliner 30092 X, matrix 208F, was recorded in Paris by Cleveland Walcutt.

Berliner 30036, matrix 3644

The Paris Office of the Gramophone Company, opened in May 1899, had been responsible for the French market since June 1901 and for the Spanish and Belgian markets since September 1905. Two new processing plants were established, one in Ivry outside of Paris in 1907 and one in Barcelona in 1908. Prior to the completion of the Ivry plant, recordings from Spain (Barcelona and Madrid), Portugal (Lisbon), and Belgium (Brussels) were processed at the Hanover plant.

Berliner 30092 X, matrix 208F

Labels printed for discs processed at the Ivry plant were designed mainly for audiences who spoke French, Spanish, or Flemish. Thus, both GRAMOPHONE RECORD and GRAMOPHONE CONCERT RECORD were rendered as DISQUE POUR GRAMOPHONE, while GRAMOPHONE MONARCH RECORD was retained for 12-inch issues. The words TRADE and MARK became MARQUE and DE FABRIQUE, and the company designation was modified to read La Cie, The Gramophone and Typewriter, Ltd., Et Societés Filiales. Company designations included both G&T and pre-DOG, and either the Recording Angel or the His Master’s Voice trademark might be used. The pressing plant in Barcelona seems to have become operational after February 1909, since no pre-DOG pressings have been noted. The Barcelona plant remained under the authority of the Paris branch until 1915.

 

Recordings made by Fred Gaisberg in Paris in September 1901 of France’s outstanding baritone, Maurice Renaud, were first issued with black labels. Renaud was accorded Red Celebrity label status before a secondary stamper became necessary, as shown above and below. In the pair above, the disc on the left has a blank reverse, except for the phrase REPRODUCED IN HANOVER. The two record sleeves are typical of those used by the Companie Française Gramophone at that time. All four discs have flush labels.

Paris, September 1901
Paris, November 1901

Both labels shown above are almost entirely in the French language. Most notably, the words "PATENTED" were removed from the trademark and replaced with "MARQUE" and "DE FABRIQUE," the French equivalent of "TRADE" and "MARK." The four records shown above are first stamper pressings, and all have flush labels 107 mm. in overall diameter. The Red Celebrity labels were probably issued before May 1902, when the first records with raised labels appeared. Occasionally the black labels with gold lettering appeared in various shades of grey, as shown below.

Paris 1901
Milan 1903

The two labels shown below were for seven-inch discs recorded in Paris and Madrid, respectively. That on the left is a retake recorded in 1904, while that on the right, according to Kelly, was recorded in Madrid in July or August 1902.

Early matrix numbers of recordings made in Paris and other locations by the two assigned recording experts, Cleveland Walcott and Charles Scheuplein, are somewhat confusing because the director of the Paris branch, Alfred Clark, ignored the directives of the Gramophone Company’s Head Office and decided that all recordings made under his authority, regardless of size, should be assigned matrix numbers consecutively, and all should have the suffix F, for the Compagnie Française. In early 1902 Cleveland Walcott was given a block of matrix numbers from 1F through 7000F, which he used mainly in Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, and the Netherlands, while at about the same time Charles Scheuplein began his allotted block with 7001F, and recorded principally in Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. The system started to fall apart when Walcott had recorded matrix 6999F, which occurred in Brussels some time in 1906. By that time Theodore Birnbaum, who was now the Managing Director of the entire company, had overridden Clark’s directive and directed him to begin to use the triplet letter suffixes n/o/p and t/u/v, assigned to the Parisian recordists. Clark continued to use the F suffix into 1908, when the triplet system finally prevailed. By that time seven-inch recordings had ceased to be made, so that Walcott retained only the suffixes o and p. Scheuplein continued with the matrix number 202t, 9671u, and 0701v for 7, 10, and 12-inch, recordings, with in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, and Scandinavia. (from Alan Kelly)

  The figure on the right above shows an original sleeve from 1903.

 


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