Notes to Columbia Records, 1901-1934: A History

Columbia Master Book, Volume I, Tim Brooks, ed.

1. Early sound recording/reproducing machines were known by several names, according to their inventors or manufacturers. Chief among them were the phonograph (Edison), Graphophone (Bell-Tainter) and Gramophone (Berliner), the first two playing cylinders and the third, discs. All three will be referred to here, generically, as “phonograph.” Return

2. For a more detailed treatment of Columbia’s activities during its first ten years, see Brooks, “Columbia Records in the 1890’s: Founding the Record Industry,” and “A Directory to Columbia Recording Artists of the 1890’s.” Return

3. The New Jersey Phonograph Company was one of the original licensees of the North American Phonograph Company, and an active producer of musical cylinders in the early 1890s. In 1893 it assigned its rights to the U.S. Phonograph Company (managed by George Tewksbury), which continued to manufacture cylinders under the “New Jersey” name. (Information supplied by Raymond Wile.)” Return

4. The seminal work in this area is Wile, “The American Graphophone Company and the Columbia Phonograph Company Enter the Disc Record Business, 1897-1903,” to which the reader is referred for greater detail.” Return

5. U.S. Census of Manufactures, 1900. While Columbia production figures are unknown, those of its main competitors have been located in court cases. See article in Antique Phonograph Monthly (Dec. 1973, p. 3), for Edison cylinder production, and Wile (1979): 139-43, for Berliner disc production.” Return

6. According to researcher Allen Koenigsberg, a sales brochure exists for the Lyrophone (sic), but it is uncertain whether any were actually manufactured. No examples have been found.” Return

7. See advertisement in Music Trade Review, Feb. 3, 1900.” Return

8. The quote is from Columbia Vice President Mervin E. Lyle, in court documents cited by Wile, “The American Graphophone Company and the Columbia Phonograph Company Enter the Disc Record Business, 1897-1903,” 214.” Return

9. Sutton, Directory of American Disc Record Brands and Manufacturers, 1891-1943, 187.” Return

10. Baumbach, Columbia Phonograph Companion, Vol. II, 71 and 75.” Return

11. Koenigsberg, Patent History of the Phonograph, 1877-1912, li. Information on the Jones patent (no. 688,739) is found on page lii.” Return

12. Wile, “The American Graphophone Company and the Columbia Phonograph Company Enter the Disc Record Business, 1897-1903,” 215.” Return

13. Music Trade Review, Jan. 17, 1903.” Return

14. Antique Phonograph Monthly, 3, for Edison; Walsh, Hobbies, 38, for Victor. The Victor figures, from a 1943 court case, have also been reprinted in the Hillandale News (see Walsh), and in Sherman, The end p. 40 Collector’s Guide to Victor Records, 168-69.” Return

15. This scenario is based on parallel developments at Victor, as described in Fagan and Moran, EDVR, Pre Matrix Series, xviii. Presumably Columbia adopted the same technology.” Return

16. Edison produced approximately seven million cylinders and Victor turned out two million discs in 1903, according to the previously mentioned sources.” Return

17. See Columbia Matrix Series appendix for details on these series. The Mexico City laboratory was announced in the Jan. 1904 Columbia Record.” Return

18. A story and advertisement for the recordings appears in the Music Trade Review, Apr. 4, 1903, 36 and 39. The special brochure introducing the records included testimonial letters from the artists, written when they first heard the recordings. These letters are dated between Feb. 28 and Mar. 4, 1903, which means the sessions were probably in December or January.” Return

19. Columbia Record, Apr. 1904. The reference to Adams is puzzling since she in fact recorded seven titles. Perhaps they meant two recording sessions.” Return

20. The inception of Victor’s Red Seal series is thoroughly described in Fagan and Moran, Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings, Matrix Series 1-4999, xxii­xxiii. Background on the singers mentioned has been drawn from Marco and from Moses, American Celebrity Recordings, 1900-1925.” Return

21. Columbia Record, Jan. 1905.” Return

22. Columbia Record, May 1905.” Return

23. The best single source of information on these labels is Sutton, Directory of American Disc Record Brands and Manufacturers.” Return

24. Columbia Record, Feb. 1905.” Return

25. Columbia Record, Apr. 1905.” Return

26. A set of early issues, invaluable to this research, is located at the Library of Congress.” Return

27. Columbia Record, May 1904.” Return

28. Columbia Record, Jul. 1906, Nov. 1906.” Return

29. Columbia Record, Feb. 1906. The figure is for the fiscal year ending Sep. 30, 1905.” Return

30. Advertisement in the Columbia Record, Sep. 1907.” Return

31. Letter from Jolm A. Gouldrup, Local Manager, Columbia Phonograph Co., to Wm. F. McLean of Womelsdorf, Pa., dated Feb. 13, 1908. A photostatic copy is in the compiler’s files; the location of the original is unknown. end p. 41” Return

32. Columbia Record, Sep. 1906; Dec. 1906. The Sep. 15, 1906 Talking Machine World said that Columbia executive George W. Lyle conducted the negotiations.” Return

33. “Notes of Mary Godwin (nee Mary Easton, daughter of E. D. Easton),” undated photostat of typed reminiscences. Easton’s accident was reported in the Talking Machine World, Feb. 15, 1908, 33. His convalescence lasted until August.” Return

34. Columbia Double Disc Records (introductory catalog, Sep. 1908).” Return

35. Double-faced records had been introduced in Europe about a year earlier, and Columbia’s English branch claimed that it had doubled its business when it introduced them there.” Return

36. Columbia Record, Nov. 1909, 13.” Return

37. Columbia Record, Mar. 1909, 6.” Return

38. Double-page ad appearing in many magazines, also reproduced in the Columbia Record, Nov. 1908.” Return

39. An interesting editorial from the Oct. 31, 1908, Musical Age, which accuses Victor of whining, is reprinted in the Columbia Record, Nov. 1908.” Return

40. Talking Machine World, Feb. 15, 1910, 19. The attorney’s quote is cited in Koenigsberg, Patent History of the Phonograph, lviii. The patent (749,092) was granted in 1904 to Ademor Petit, who later assigned U.S. and foreign rights to others. It was ruled invalid in Europe in 1906, and in the U.S. in June 1911. See also Andrews, Columbia 10” Records, 1904-30, introduction; Andrews, “More Thoughts on Early Double-Sided Records,” New Amberola Graphic No. 99 (1998), 5-7.” Return

41. Sources: May 1, 1920 Columbia dealer price list; numerous records analyzed by this author; Spottswood, Ethnic Music on Records, vol. 1, xxxiv; Gronow, Studies in Scandinavian-American Discography, 14; Vernon, Ethnic and Vernacular Music, 113; Andrews, Columbia 10” Records; Copeland, The Historic Record No. 8; correspondence with Michael S. Kinnear (1977), Frank Andrews (1997), Dick Spottswood (1997) and others.” Return

42. Talking Machine World, Jun. 15, 1910.” Return

43. Columbia Record, March 1909, 13 and 15.” Return

44. See various entries in Sherman, The Collector’s Guide to Victor Records. Ironically, Columbia had earlier supplied masters to some of these “rogue” labels.” Return

45. Columbia Record, Oct. 1909.” Return

46. The full story of the Columbia demonstration records is in Brooks, “The Columbia Double-Disc Demonstration Record,” 1-9. Anecdotal sales figures for the 1913 disc are cited in a story about Henry Burr, New York Times, Nov. 22, 1929 (claims five million); and in his widow’s obituary, Associated Press wire story, Sep. 17, 1954 (three million). end p. 42” Return

47. The S3000s were renumbered as the A3000s when the regular popular “A” series reached A2999 in 1920.” Return

48. Undated (ca. 1917) form letter from A. E. Donovan, Manager, Personal Record Department, with attached schedules of fees. Located in the personal files of concert tenor Roland Hayes, Detroit Public Library, 1994. The full story of Hayes’ famous personal recordings will be told in a subsequent article by this author.” Return

49. The full Little Wonder story is found in Tim Brooks, “Ever Wonder About Little Wonder?” Return

50. Talking Machine World, May 15, 1911 (Cromelin), Mar. 15, 1915 (Lyle).” Return

51. New York Times, May 17, 1915.” Return

52. Bridgeport Evening Farmer, Dec. 20, 1911.” Return

53. Gelatt, The Fabulous Phonograph, 246; Johnson, His Master’s Voice Was Eldridge R. Johnson, 119. The other owners of Victor stock, including Emile Berliner, got a total of $12 million when the company was sold.” Return

54. Dodge obituary, New York Times, Aug. 10, 1931.” Return

55. The strike received considerable coverage in the Bridgeport Post between Aug. 14 and Sep. 26, 1915. It was also noted in the New York Times, along with other labor unrest in Bridgeport.” Return

56. New York Times, Mar. 14, 1920; Feb. 10, 1922.” Return

57. These figures, from the Columbia files, reflect total shipments over the life of the record. However both discs were released well before the crash, and the vast bulk of shipments occurred during the months immediately surrounding the release. A2701 was backed with “Beautiful Ohio” by Burr, which no doubt contributed to its success.” Return

58. New York Times, Feb. 10, 1922.” Return

59. New York Times, Mar. 29, 1922.” Return

60. May 1921 supplement.” Return

61. New York Times, Feb. 10, 1922.” Return

62. New York Times, Dec. 13, 1922.” Return

63. Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Co. entry, Moody’s Industrials, 1923.” Return

64. Columbia supplement, Mar. 1923.” Return

65. See Walsh, Hobbies, Jun. 1971, and other sources previously mentioned for the Victor sales figures.” Return

66. Gelatt, The Fabulous Phonograph, 223-226. end p. 43” Return

67. Talking Machine World, Jul. 15, 1927; Bridgeport Post, Jul. 1, 1927. The company was also referred to as The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System (New York Times, Nov. 17, 1927); possibly this was a holding company.” Return

68. Talking Machine World, Sep. 15, 1927.” Return

69. New York Times, Oct. 12, 1928.” Return

70. New York Times, May 18, 1929.” Return

71. U.S. Census of Manufactures.” Return

72. New York Times, May 30, 1931, Dec. 25, 1931.” Return

73. New York Times, Dec. 25, 1931; Moody’s Industrials, 1933.” Return

74. New York Times, Apr. 24, 1932.” Return

75. New York Times, Apr. 20, 1932.” Return

76. See the listings for more details about this story.” Return

77. It should be noted that although the original master number continued to be used, it is possible that later takes were used in later years. However some artists whose recordings remained in the catalog for decades did not record after the early years (Len Spencer, for example, died in 1914). It is this compiler’s opinion that most of the long­lived vocal and instrumental masters dated from pre-1905, at the latest.” Return

78. Walsh, Hobbies, Jul.-Oct. 1958.” Return

79. The Feb. 1904 Columbia Record cites both Myers and Stewart as exclusive artists. Judging by gaps in their Victor recording histories (documented in Fagan and Moran, EDVR), Myers seems to have been exclusive to Columbia for discs from about 1902 to 1905, and Stewart from late 1903 until the end of 1906. Myers was also absent from the Edison cylinder lists from 1902 to 1906, and Stewart from 1902 until late 1908, so they may have been exclusive to Columbia in that format even longer. (Koenigsberg, ECR).” Return

80. Music Trade Review, Jun. 13, 1903; Columbia Record, Aug. 1904, May 1905.” Return

81. Howard Rye and Tim Brooks, “Visiting Fireman 16: Dan Kildare,” Storyville 1996-97 (Chigwell, Essex, England: L. Wright, 1997), 30-57.” Return

82. Billboard, May 30, 1925; reprinted in Blacker, “Disco-Ing In,” Record Research 231/32 (Oct. 1987), 2.” Return

83. Columbia Record, Dec. 1906.” Return

84. Talking Machine World, Aug. 15, 1907.” Return

85. Talking Machine World, Jan. 15, 1908. end p. 44” Return

86. Talking Machine World, Sep. 15, 1910. The event was also thoroughly covered in Salt Lake City’s Deseret Evening News.” Return

87. Moses, American Celebrity Recordings 1900-1925, 164.” Return

88. The author is indebted to Richard K. Spottswood, a preeminent scholar in the field of early ethnic recording, as well as to sources indicated in the notes, for some of the information used in this section.” Return

89. Columbia Record, Jan. and Apr. 1904. Several of the 2000-series records are listed in the April issue.” Return

90. Letter to the author from Nobu K. Shishido, Chiba, Japan, Jul. 18, 1996.” Return

91. Columbia Record, May 1914, reproduced in Gronow, Studies in Scandinavian­American Discography, 8.” Return

92. Talking Machine World, Aug. 15, 1915.” Return

93. Greene, A Passion for Polka, 75.” Return

94. Gronow, “Ethnic Recordings: An Introduction,” 5.” Return

95. Gronow, Studies in Scandinavian-American Discography 2, 13.” Return

96. Gronow, “Recording for the 'Foreign’ Series,” 18. Gronow’s source for this information is music store owner Myron Surrnach.” Return

97. Gronow, Studies, p. 16. See Spottswood, Ethnic Music in America, for discographies of these and other ethnic artists.” Return

98. Talking Machine World, August 15, 1908, 37.” Return

99. The full story of Nation’s Forum may be found in a splendid article by David Goldenberg, The Discographer 2(4), ca. 1971.” Return

100. See “Matrix Series” appendix, description of the 51,500 series.” Return

101. Columbia supplement, Apr. 1933.” Return

102. Columbia Record, Sep. 1904.” Return

103. For additional discussion of these arcane matters see Moore and Witten.101. Columbia supplement, Apr. 1933.” Return

104. M-29 (a 12” aria from Don Carlos by Rosa Linde Wright) and M-2026 (a 10” aria from Tosca by Adelina Agostinelli), both in the collection of Lawrence F. Holdridge. Neither appears to have been issued.” Return

105. No embossed “Globe” Climaxes are known in the 10” format so the introduction of this size may have been delayed slightly.” Return

106. Talking Machine World, Jan. 15, 1908, 66. end p. 45” Return

107. Fagan and Moran, Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings, Pre-Matrix Series, xxvii-xxxi. 12” Victors, although recorded as early as late 1901, were apparently not issued until 1903.” Return

108. Fagan and Moran, Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings, Pre-Matrix Series and Matrix Series: 1-4999. Moran’s essay on turntable speeds, in the latter volume (xxxiii-xxxvi), is particularly interesting.” Return

109. Talking Machine World, Jun. 15, 1908, 33.” Return

110. According to court depositions located by Wile, “The American Graphophone Company,” 219 (fn 26), Smith resigned from American Graphophone in 1901 or 1902. His dates of birth and death are not known.” Return

111. According to an obituary in the Dec. 22, 1902, New York Tribune, Cromelin died of “heart disease” (a heart attack?) in his New York apartment on Saturday, Dec. 20, after spending the day in his office. He was 45. Marco contains a short biography, but no date of death, and seems to confuse him with later Columbia executive Paul Cromelin.” Return

112. See biography in Marco. Devine’s obituary is in Talking Machine World, May 15, 1909, 3, where his age was reported as 67.” Return

113. Partial biographies of Mauro are found in Marco, and Noteworthy News, Sep. 22, 1996.” Return

114. Koenigsberg, Patent History of the Phonograph, 1877-1912, vi.” Return

115. Columbia Record, Feb. 1905.” Return

116. Prince biographies can be found in Marco; and Walsh, Hobbies, Dec. 1952-Jan. 1953. The ledger is located at the Edison National Historical Site, West Orange, N.J.” Return

117. Walsh, Hobbies, Jan. 1953, 23. end p. 46” Return

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The Columbia Master Book Discography, 4 Volumes, Complied by Brian Rust and Tim Brooks. Reprinted by permission.