£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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

Email Howard Friedman



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

Pre-Paper or Berliner Labels

The pre-label period began in the United States and Canada, where Emile Berliner had invented the flat gramophone disc in 1887, and had established several recording facilities and pressing plants, in Washington, D.C. in 1892, in Philadelphia in 1895, and in Montreal, Canada in 1900. Early American recordings, so-called Berliners, have been seen with the words "Washington, D.C." inscribed on their face. Several series of "Berliner" discs must be distinguished. The earliest of these was recorded in Washington and Philadelphia by the Berliner Gramophone Company. Over 2300 recordings were made in the United States and issued between 1894 and 1900.

Berliner 178, October 29, 1895
American Berliner, April 17, 1896
showing the five patent dates

The figure on the right above shows an American Berliner disc with the dates of Emile Berliner’s five American patents. Not all American Berliners carried all five dates; some showed only four, while some indicated only that patents had been issued or applied for. Another distinguishing feature is the absence of the Recording Angel trademark (see below) on all American discs. Close inspection of the disc on the left, also an American Berliner, reveals some evidence of handwritten information above the central hole. (from Charosh, see Bibliography)

In 1896 Berliner established the Gram-O-Phone Company in Montreal, Canada, and began a second series of Berliner discs. The Canadian Berliner Company pursued a course quite independent of its American and European counterparts, and eventually joined with the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901, with Emile Berliner’s son Herbert Samuel as one of the major stockholders and Emile’s younger son Edgar as secretary-treasurer.

Canadian Berliner 458
Montreal 1901
Improved Berliner 983
usual form around 1904

The final Berliner series were made in Great Britain and other countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa by the Gramophone Company, which was established in London in April 1898. Records issued by the Gramophone Company before April 8, 1901 were recorded on wax-coated zinc plates, also known as matrices or recording tablets. They were seven inches in diameter, had no paper labels, and were embossed as E. Berliner’s Gramophone (see below) in both England and America, the details being either embossed or engraved into the central area of the matrix as described previously. Alan Kelly pointed out some years ago, in a Letter to the Editor of The Hillandale News, No. 176, October 1990, that when Berliner discs were re-pressed with paper labels, they were no longer Berliner discs but Gramophone and Typewriter discs!

The four figures below (courtesy of Peter Adamson) show the changes in the format used to provide the information in the central area of Berliner discs during the "original series" period, from August 8 to October 31, 1898. Unless otherwise stated, all Berliner discs are assumed to be seven inches in diameter.

 

 

8-8-98
24-8-98

 

29-8-98
9-2-98
(American style?)

According to Adamson, on all of the discs above except the earliest, the company designation and catalog number are sunken, i.e., embossed into the zinc disc rather than into the stamper. All other information was inscribed by hand onto the zinc plate, by either the recording engineer, i.e., Fred Gaisberg, or his "secretary." All of the discs above appear to show Fred’s handwriting.

The name(s) of the artist(s) and the selection(s) were either handwritten or etched in the lower half of the central area. The dates often seen on these discs may be that of the recording itself, or of processing, i.e., from the time the tablet arrived at the processing plant in Hanover. It can be surmised that the phrasing on the upper half of both American and European Berliners was entered at the processing plant, probably by embossing onto the original zinc plate. European discs were embossed at the processing plant in Hanover, together with the location of the recording. The following is quoted from Alan Kelly’s Introduction to the German Catalogue.

"In those days the Expert made the recording and then immediately scratched the serial number (that which we now call the matrix number) into the Center portion of the disc. The disc was then passed to an assistant whose task was to keep the books and who noted the Matrix Number, Artist, Title, etc., in appropriate columns. Subsequently either he or another hand used a stylus to copy the details from the page to the center of the disc, and the details copied included the date written at the top of the page. This date could be anything from the date of recording until weeks later, if the processing had been delayed or when the zincs were sent to Hanover for processing."

Original Series

E2042, September 20, 1898

The Berliner disc above is from the first or "original" series, which began with Fred Gaisberg’s first London recordings on August 8, 1898. The matrix number 14 may be seen with some difficulty just to the right of the spindle hole, together with some additional suffixes probably added at Hanover; the date of September 20, 1898, written American style as 9-20-98, can be seen quite clearly to the left of the spindle hole, while the catalog number 2042 with E above it can be seen at the right. The date 9-28-98, barely discernible to the right of the serial number may indicate the date of processing at Hanover, although the American style date leaves some doubt. The Recording Angel trademark is absent from both sides of the disc, as well as the phrase REPRODUCED IN HANOVER. Another enigma of the printing world is why the printers in Hannover anglicized their city to Hanover on the labels made for the local pressing plant!

Previous page  

 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

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

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Book Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.