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

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Double-Sided Issues

1907 Catalogue of Double-Sided Discs

 

The International Zonophone Company was among the first of several record companies to introduce double-sided discs. Ademor N. Petit in the United States appears to have held the first patent U.S. No. 749,092, applied for on January 7, 1901 and granted on January 5, 1904. One-half of his patent interests were assigned to Frederick M. Prescott, one of the founders and president of the International Zonophone Company (see below). One of the earliest double-sided discs was a coupling of the seven-inch discs Zonophone 376 and Zonophone 377, recorded in Berlin in October-November 1901. A large number of both seven- and ten-inch recordings made in Brussels in early 1902 were also coupled. The first Milan seven-inch recordings to be coupled were in September 1902, after which only a few seven-inch recordings made in Paris in early 1903 are found in double-sided discs. A considerable number of seven-inch recordings made in London, Brussels, and Berlin are known as late as May and June of 1903.

 

The TWIN Record Company label, London, March 20, 1909

The first shipment of 646 ten-inch and 83 twelve-inch double-sided records, presumably from the manufacturing plant in Berlin, was made to Fred Figner or Casa Edison, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 15, 1902. These records consisted of blue label recordings made in Europe, backed with orange label recordings probably made in Rio de Janeiro. This would indicate that the stampers from the Brazilian recordings had been shipped back to the Berlin plant. When the Gramophone Company bought the International Zonophone Company in Europe, Ch. & J. Ullmann of Paris had stocks of Zonophone machines as well as of double-sided records from the Berlin factory. Further shipments were discontinued after May 15, 1904.

London, 1907
London, June 1909

Authorities differ as to when the Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd issued its first double-sided discs. Alan Kelly states that double-sided black and green label discs had been issued in both sizes as early as 1906. John Bennett indicates that double-sided discs were issued in September 1907. Frank Andrews, on the other hand, states that the Gramophone Company, Ltd. introduced its first double-sided labeled discs in August 1908. A secondary department of the company was organised as The Twin Record Company, which launched "The Twin Double-Sided Record." These records were only issued in the ten-inch size, and sold for slightly more than single-sided records. During 1910 the Twin Record Company merged with the British Zonophone Company, another subsidiary of the Gramophone Company. The new company began issuing only double-sided discs under the Zonophone label, and to issue double-sided 12-inch discs in May 1911.

recorded in Milan, November-December 1906

Labels on each side of double-sided records are not always of the same size. Moreover, when the ring diameter was reduced from 88 to 80 mm, the size of the label remained at 90 mm. As the outer ring diameter changed, the overall diameter of the label was also reduced, leaving a margin of about 5 mm all around.

Recorded in Paris, May 1906, issued before 19 November 1907

Double-sided discs are found with G&T labels for recordings made before 18 November 1907, and with pre-DOG labels between that date and February 1909. Early double-sided discs showed different catalog numbers for each side, according to the original single-sided number. No catalog number was provided for the double-sided disc itself.

In September 1912 the Gramophone Company issues 102 twelve-inch ("C" series) and 55 ten-inch ("B" series) double-sided discs. All were Band, Orchestral, or Instrumental recordings, and all bore plum-colored labels. Bennett describes this color as violet red. These series continued throughout the remainder of the 78 rpm recording era, replacing the double-sided discs, which the Gramophone Company had been issuing since May 1908 through their subsidiary, the Twin Record Company. The changes and variations in the designs of the labels are shown below under section V. Double Sided Issues.

Recorded in Vienna, 1908, issued before February 1909

In February 1918 two new series were introduced, the 12-inch "D" series and the 10-inch "E" series. These discs bore black labels on both sides initially, but in March 1924, it was decided to reissue all extant celebrity recordings from as far back as 1902, on two new series of red label discs. These were the HMV DA and DB series. Of the 20 original Caruso recordings of 1902, only 12 were reissued in the first double-sided series. However, fourteen still appear to be extant today, the other two being the "burnt up" shells identified by Freestone and Drummond, which were re-recorded in his second recording session of November 1902.

The recent compilation by Michael Smith lists 2,112 "D" series and 610 "E" series discs. HMV D1 was released in February 1918, and E1 was released in July of that year. The last "D" series was issued in November 1933, and the last "E" series was released in October 1930. In addition to the complete listings, this publication provides cross references of disc numbers in manual, automatic, and duplicate recordings for both series. A listing is also provided of all of the discs recorded by each artist, as may be found in all of Bennett's books.

Many double-sided discs in the "B", "C", "D", and "E" series were reissues of previously or even concurrently issued single-sided discs. The latter were issued as late as 1924. At the same time, most "D" and "E" discs were issued only as double-sided discs. However, the practice of assigning single-side numbers continued as late as 1929. Smith states HO numbers, referring to Home Office, as Ho. However, this is quite incorrect. The records themselves indicate clearly that the HO form was always used.

Further variations in the "DOG" or HMV labels deal mainly with the presence or absence of quadrants, boxes, company logos, and different colors in the lower half of the label. These are described under Section VIII. The Double-Sided Issues. The following group of figures shows most of the label varieties (from Andrews and Bayly).

V.A1.a

V.A1.b.

V.A1.4.

Sep 1912 – May 1913
Sep 1919 – Feb 1925
Sep 1926 – Oct 1932

V.A1.5

V.a1.7

V.A1.8.

V.A2.9.

V.A2.12.

V.A2.13.

 

HMV B and C Series Labels

From 1912 until at least the end of June 1924, single-disc numbers were assigned to each side of most of the now double-sided discs, although it is highly unlikely that those single-sided discs were ever issued again. However, single-sided discs continued to be issued throughout the remainder of the acoustical era. When these were reissued on double-sided discs, as many of them were, the issuance of the single-sided version was discontinued. Bennett lists many of these sides under single-side numbers. The writer has checked the original disc labels, or photographs thereof, of every acoustical set from the 1917 Mikado through the 1936 electrical HMV Mikado. Every side in every set has a single-side disc number imprinted on the label at the left.

Left: HMV D 41, a 12-inch double-sided reissue of the single-sided issues 04693 (shown) and 02830, recorded in June-July 1919.

Center: HMV D 500, a double-sided reissue of the single-sided issues 04283 and 04284, recorded in August and May 1920, respectively.

Right: HMV D 1172, a 12-inch double-sided disc electrically recorded September 26, 1926. Note speed shown at lower right.

The example of V.A.1.5. on the left below (see series above) is HMV C 1023, recorded on April 20, 1921. It is unusual, in that it shows no catalog numbers on either side of the disc. The assigned single-disc numbers should have been 05667 and 05668.

HMV C1023
HMV 02073

Among the earliest single-side reissues is John Harrison's "A Wand'ring Minstrel I," from the 1906 Mikado recording on HMV 02073, shown above. This was reissued on HMV D242, the second side being Harrison's recording of "Thora," by S. Adams. The earliest single side listed as reissued on HMV is Edvard Grieg's 1903 recording of his own "Au Printemps," issued originally on G&T 35510 and reissued on HMV D 803. The matrix number 2147F indicates that the recording was made by Cleveland Walcutt in Paris on May 2, 1903. This is not to be confused with matrix number 2147f, which Perkins et al. show to have been used in 1907 in London.

The Celebrity series were first given DA and DB letters in August 1924, together with all the old single-sided numbers. The latter were shortly dropped from the catalogs. By December of the same year, the DJ, DK, DM, DO, DQ, DR, and DS series had been introduced, again for pricing purposes. Moreover, these prefixes were also used to indicate that more than a single artist appeared. At this time the principal celebrity label color was red.

IV.b.3.b.
trademark 65 mm. diameter
IV.B.3.d.
trademark 50 mm. diameter

The Opera Discs

When World War I broke out on August 14, 1914, the German government seized the Gramophone pressing plant in Hanover, together with over 600 Gramophone and Victor stampers and other parts in possession of the Deutsche Grammophon Aktien-Gesellschaft (DGA). Many of these stampers were used to press issued discs with labels such as those shown below.

Manufactured by the Deutsche Grammophon
Aktiengesellschaft Berlin-Hanover

November 25, 1908

Berlin, January 15, 1914

The figures above show early Schallplatte issues, both bearing the phrase "Hergestellt von der Deutschen Grammophon Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Hanover" above the modified HMV trademark. Later Schallplatte discs, as seen below, show the phrase "Hergestellt von der Deutschen Grammophon Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin" in an arc above the trademark, indicating that most of these discs were manufactured in Berlin. Later issues used labels with the complete HMV trademark, as shown below.

 

Manufactured by the Deutsche Berlin, January 15, 1914
Grammophon Aktiengesellschaft Berlin, Mar 13, 1906

1908

1909
1917

Following World War I, when France and England were embroiled in legal tangles regarding German war reparations, The Gramophone Company of London was not permitted to use its own name in Germany nor to sell records using the company’s trademark "His Master’s Voice," as these rights were considered to belong to the now independent Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. During the post-World War I period DGG also issued its own pressings of the stampers in its possession. These were single-sided discs bearing the Schallplatte „Grammophon" or S.G. label seen above.

During this post-war period DGG issued its own pressings of the stampers, single-sided records bearing the Schallplatte „Grammophon" or S.G. label seen above, and double-sided issues with the lower two styles of labels. These labels bore catalog numbers of both the Gramophone Company and DGG.

Double-sided issues under the Künstler Schallplatte, Grammophon" (K.S.G.) labels are shown above. These labels bear catalog numbers of both the Gramophone Company and DGG. The label style above was used for twelve-inch issues, while that below was used for both sizes. Both labels show engineer’s marking impressed upside down through the label.

In March 1917, the German government auctioned off the various assets of the Gramophone Company in Germany at the time. Officials of the newly formed Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft (DGG), not to be confused with the Deutsche Grammophon Aktien-Gesellschaft (DGA) formed by William Barry Owen, licensed the stampers to their own newly formed subsidiary, Polyphone. These were in turn licensed to a New York firm, the Opera Disc Company. In 1920 the latter was soon flooding the United States with quasi-legal but nevertheless excellent pressings of these confiscated recordings.

The so-called Opera Discs
Recorded in October 1917, Berlin

The very unusual label on the right above seems to have been issued in honor or commemorate the opening night of Leopold Fall’s Operetta Die Rose von Stamboul, which had its debut in Vienna on December 2, 1916.

By 1922 it was decided to create two or more subsidiaries wholly owned by the Gramophone Company of London. The German company, named Electrola, was established in Berlin in 1925 and would compete in Germany with DGG. A second company named Gramola was established in Austria and the newly established country of Czechoslovakia, with branch offices in Vienna and Prague, respectively. A pressing plant was established in 1926 in Aussig, or Usti nad Leben, a small town north of Prague, where Supraphon LP discs are still pressed today. Neither company could issue DOG labels so new styles had to be developed; and these consisted largely of geometric designs. Records manufactured at the Aussig plant bore the phrase "Hergestellt von der Oesterr. Grammophon-Gesellschaft m. b. H., Aussig a E." above the trademark.

recorded in Vienna
September 20, 1909

Die Stimmer seines Herrn
above spindle hole

Post-World War I Pirate Issues

The label on the left above was printed in Aussig for a recording made by Leo Slezak in Vienna on September 20, 1909. The original HMV label was covered by the Gramola sticker to permit its sale in Austria. Note the use of the word CONCERT in the arc, although the recording is a 12-inch one. The label on the right is a 1912 recording by Caruso that was issued after 1929 by the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft (DGG), Berlin, with a later form of the Künstler Schallplatte „Grammophon" label discussed above. It has been said that the German companies never translated "His Master’s Voice" into German. The label on the right above belies this allegation, as one finds the phrase "Die Stimme seines Herrn" above the spindle hole just inside the trademark itself.

Recorded April 20, 1914

recorded 1927
1929 reissue of 1902 recording

 

Victor Talking Machine Company Labels

There seems to be no reason to present material here which has been presented elsewhere in so excellent a format and coverage. The interested reader is referred to the works of Michael Sherman, and of Allen Sutton and Kurt Nauck, cited below in the Bibliography.

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

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