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The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
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"His Master’s Voice" Trademark


In February 1909 the Gramophone Company finally replaced the "Recording Angel" trademark used on labels since as early as February 1899 with the "His Master’s Voice" trademark which William Barry Owen had purchased from the painter Francis Barraud in that same year, and which the Victor Talking Machine Company had been using as its trademark since January 1902. The original painting is shown above. It may be noted here that the Gramophone Company had been using the HMV trademark on its tins of gramophone needles since as early as February 1904 (see the February 1904 Catalogue cover shown above). Moreover, John Bennett states that the HMV trademark had appeared on supplements as early as January 1900.

HMV record labels used during the acoustical recording era fall into four major categories: 1) Gramophone Co., Ltd., with the Dog trademark; 2) His Master's Voice, large and small trademarks; 3) HMV B, C, D, and E series; and 4) HMV DA, DB, and other International Celebrity series. Labels were printed in different colors to identify price categories. In addition, a dark green label was used for lesser recording lights, for both 10- and 12-inch discs, from as early as 1909 to 1921 or later. As noted above, Russian labels never bore the HMV trademark.

During the first period described above labels with the same general format were used in various countries in Europe, particularly in Spain. The only words in English on these labels were the designation above the trademark, the language, the vocal range or instrument and the accompaniment. During this period the label showed two catalog numbers placed at 5 and 7 o’clock on the label. This format has been seen on issues as late as December 27, 1911. Sometime during this period the double catalog numbers were replaced by a single number, which continued through about February 1918, when quadrants were placed in the lower half of the label (see below under Double-Sided Issues)

From February 1909 to August 1910 the HMV label consisted of an unframed trademark occupying most of the upper half of the label, above which was the lettering GRAMOPHONE CONCERT RECORD or GRAMOPHONE MONARCH RECORD. Directly beneath the trademark was the company designation, as Manufactured by The Gramophone Co., Ltd., (and Sister Companies). These are generally known as HMV Monarch or Dog Monarch for 12-inch discs and as HMV Concert or Dog Concert for 10-inch discs, respectively. The lower company designation was used in 1912.

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


The following four labels were issued during the early HMV period from February 1909 through August 1910, for both 10- and 12-inch recordings. At that time the Angel still appeared in smaller form on various label styles, generally at the lower center of the label.

February 1909
August 1910


IV.B.1.a. Feb 1908 – Dec 1909

IV.B.1.b. early 1909 to 1917


Company Name Variations

In August 1910 the designation HIS MASTER’S VOICE appeared on both 10- and 12-inch records in an arc above the unframed trademark. The new design included the company designation under the trademark, as Manufactured by THE GRAMOPHONE CO., LTD., Hayes, Middlesex, England, as seen in the foregoing illustrations. The first HMV labels introduced in December 1910 were black or pink (Bennett called this color violet-red, and it appeared so frequently), followed two years later by the double-sided "B" and "C" series with plum labels. These are discussed in greater detail below. They were followed by the "D" and "E" series, introduced in February 1918, both with black labels. These were replaced by red labels in October 1932, and continued until the end of the 78 rpm recording era, around 1950. The violet label was apparently dropped after March 1920. Plum may be defined as a dark purple to deep reddish purple color.

December 27, 1911
February 13, 1912

February 7, 1908
January 19, 1912

IV.B.1.a. pink
IV.B.1.a. green


III.G.2.b. purple


His Master’s Voice Labels 1909 – 1917

The designs for the new double-sided series were used for all HMV labels during each period, as outlined below in Section V. of the Outline of Label Varieties. When quadrants were added in the lower left and lower right areas of the label after February 1918, the space between them was initially empty, but during the period of their use until September 1926, various company logos in various formats were placed there (see below)

Embossed Angel trademark



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