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

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Font and Size Variations

Variations in font sizes and in the location of various phrases are seen commonly among the earliest G&T labels. While there is little apparent consistency in these differences, one can surmise that from the beginning of the use of labels their size was gradually reduced, while various phrases were either reduced as well, or else augmented for greater legibility. It seems likely that many of the variations and changes were made at the whim of the printers in Hanover and elsewhere. The two labels below are both from stamper II pressings. Note that while the font for MEFISTOFELE is large on the right, the words PATENTED are smaller.

small font
large font
Figure IV.A.1.a.

7-inch label, narrow trade mark
wide trade mark, narrow name
PATENTED small, wide name
PATENTED large, narrow name

French designation and trademark
Narrow trademark, small designation
Angel narrow, small name
trade mark narrow, pre-DOG name

Russian Company designations

Small Angel, narrow Trade Mark large Angel, wide Trade Mark

The company designation for the Gramophone & Typewriter Limited was used on labels printed between about June 1901 and November 18, 1907, and appears only in the font style The Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd. During the pre-DOG period from November 19, 1907 to February 1909, the company designation and the font style were changed to The Gramophone Company, Limited. However, see below.

earliest Company designations
with raised "The" variant
without raised "The"
"Manufactured by The Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd., and Sister Companies"

Pre-DOG company designation in various colors
"Manufactured by
The Gramophone Company, Limited,
and Sister Companies"

Company designation in Arabic

Company Name Varieties

Fonts on early labels, viz., 19011904, show considerable variation in size, as well as in the name of the artist on the recording. All labels on pressings from 46 original and secondary stampers of Caruso’s recordings from his first session in April 1902 give his name as "ENRICO CARUSO", while all labels from the second session in November-December of that year throughout a large range of 40 original and secondary stampers give it as "Cav. ENRICO CARUSO." Both styles may be found in upper or lower case.

Labels from a series of six stampers for matrix 2875, G.C.-52440, Caruso’s 1902 recording of Leoncavallo’s Vesti la giubba, show interesting variations in font types and sizes. These are shown below.

Stamper III
Stamper III
Stamper V
Stamper VI
Stamper VII
Stamper VIII

 

Variations in the diameter of the outer ring on early Gramophone labels probably arose from the use of different type sizes for the lettering. One copy of G.C.-52034 (see below under Caruso Labels) has an outer ring diameter of 88 mm., the company designation is 56 mm wide, and the title "MATTINATA" is 43 mm.; on a copy from a later stamper with a diameter of 80 mm., the measurements are 47 and 48 mm., respectively. On the same two records, the Angel trademarks are identical in size, while the measurement across the PATENTED to the end of it on the other side is 55 mm. on the earlier pressing and 50 mm. on the later one.

Note the raised "The" variant on the discs below.

London, December 1901
Moscow, January 23-28, 1902

G.C.-52345 IIIII
G.C.-52346 II
G.C.-52370 IIII

 

In general, font sizes in smaller rings are smaller, with the following exceptions. The title of the selection may be in a larger font, while the artist’s name, the language and voice range may remain in the same font size. Unfortunately, one cannot date changes in either ring diameters or font sizes with any certainty.

Variations in font types and sizes used for the various markings on Gramophone Company labels have been numerous from the very beginning, partly due to the printer’s discretion, and doubtless depending upon the whims of the typesetter. Small font lettering occasionally preceded large font lettering. However, several secondary stampers or masters may have been made at any given time, and these were not always used in the order of their preparation. Thus, small font lettering has been seen on pressings from stamper V of G.C.-52418, while large font lettering is found on the label from stamper VI, as seen below.

 
G.C.-52418 Stamper V
G.C.-52418 Stamper VI
 
 
G.C. -52443 stamper I
small lower case letters
G.C. -52443 stamper VII
large upper case letters
 

 

Most issues with flush labels show the recording engineer’s hand inscribed recording data impressed into the label, continuing the practice of the pre-label period. These have also been seen impressed into flush labels within a raised ring, but not into labels raised on a plateau or on labels sunken within a ring. Bennett indicates that red labels, denoting the more outstanding performers, .e g., Caruso, Plançon, De Luca, Ancona, and Scotti, were introduced as early as March 1902 for both size discs. Lesser known artists were given black labels.

Stamper III, August 18, 1906
Issued after November 1907
Stamper I, issued between
February 1909 and August 1910
Stamper I pressing
Stamper II pressing

The two pairs of labels above show changes in fonts and styles from 1906 to 1912. The top G&T disc, from stamper III, was recorded on August 18, 1906 and issued in the pre-DOG period from November 1907 to August 1910. The label is 90 mm. in overall diameter and is sunk within a raised ring. The top HMV disc, pressed from stamper I, was released between February 1909 and August 1910. The label is flush within a raised ring, and one can see Fred Gaisberg’s markings outside the label at 3 o’clock, viz., G above 4-b, from the matrix number 8724-b, above the 3, probably from the catalog number 4413. None of these markings are visible on the G&T disc, indicating that the central markings were buffed out on the second stamper.

Unlike the Victor Talking Machine Company, the Gramophone Company frequently placed different styles and sizes of labels on the two sides of double-faced records. Neither company was averse to using up stocks of old labels, before printing new designs, which probably accounts for many double-sided discs having completely different labels on each side. Under this heading we find the word The occurring above the remainder of the company designation as early as December 1901 (see the figures above), and sometimes after April 1902. At the time when the narrow spacing of "Trade" and "Mark" was widened, The was moved back to the beginning of the phrase, and the Angel trademark was enlarged. It has been seen on labels issued between April 1902 and July 1905, but not later.

 

The three labels above have recently come to the author’s attention. While their exact provenance and significance are not known, that on the left was obviously manufactured at Hanover in 1906, while the other two appear to have been processed in Berlin some time after September 1912. The phrase printed above the Angel on the left is incomplete, and should read Importé de Hanovre. The other two labels bear the phrase Import d’Allemagne. Other labels with similar phrase are known.



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

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