Appendix A: Matrix and Catalog Number Dating Charts

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

The first chart shows the year in which regular domestic Columbia masters were first recorded (high-numbered takes may have been made later). Dating for years prior to 1910 has been estimated from release dates, as established by the author’s collection of original literature and, in a few cases, from the Columbia files. Masters made after 1910 are generally dated from the files.

It should be noted that numbering procedures used during 1901-1902 are unclear. The Globe Record Company, which initially manufactured the Climax label, may have used a block system, or even an entirely different matrix system, with the familiar matrix numbers we know being assigned later (see Columbia history section). The choice of the 500s as the cut-off for the end of 1901 is based on the numbering confusion and the frequency of masters stamped “VTM” that occur in that range, which suggests that these masters were in production when the Victor Talking Machine Company temporarily took over the label on January 19, 1902. A few higher numbers have been found with the “VTM” stamp (including the highest known Climax, no. 826), so the cut off may be higher. The “Ten Inch” heading is used for convenience, although this series included 7-inch discs until about 1905, and a few 12” and 14” discs between 1904-1906.

The highest 10” identified here is W152772, made in 1934 (the “W” stands for the Western Electric recording process). After that Columbia converted to prefixed matrix numbers, in this case the CO-15,500s. The company virtually discontinued U.S. 10” recording during the 1930s, relying on imported masters bearing foreign matrix numbers.

The second and third charts show the years in which specific catalog numbers were released. They date the vast majority of releases; discs were occasionally released out of numerical sequence, but this was infrequent after 1904. Discs were announced monthly throughout most of this period, and the monthly supplement in which the record was first listed defines the official month of release. Columbia (and its competitors) allowed dealers to place new releases on sale a week or so before the end of the preceding month, however, so a “January” release would actually have been available in late December.

Table 3:

Recording Dates: General U.S. Matrix Series

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Year Ten-InchTwelve-Inch
1901 1—ca. 500s
1902 ca. 500s—ca. 1100
1903 ca. 1100—ca. 1720
1904 ca. 1720—ca. 3070  —
1905 ca. 3070—ca. 3360  —
1906 ca. 3360—ca. 3590 30000—ca. 30080
1907 ca. 3590—ca. 3800 ca. 30080—ca. 30130
1908 ca. 3800—ca. 4000 ca. 30130—ca. 30205
1909 ca. 4000—ca. 4275 ca. 30205—ca. 30330
1910 ca. 4275—4999 ca. 30330—30620
1911 19180—19703 30621—ca. 30930
1912 19704—19999 ca. 30930—30999
  38100—38524 36350—ca. 36530
1913 38525—39169 ca. 36530—ca. 36850
1914 39170—39717 ca. 36850—37119
1915 39718—39999 37120—37498
  45500—46310 48500—48534
1916 46311—47259 48535—49052
1917 47260—47499 49053—49294
1918 77605—78236 49295—49566
1919 78237—78905 49567—ca. 49730
1920 78906—79617 ca. 49730—ca. 49920
1921 79618—80126 ca. 49920—49999
   — 98000—98005
1922 80127—80754 98006—98051
1923 80755—81445 98052—98114
1924 81446—81999 98115—98162
  140000—140219  —
1925 140220—W141451 W98163—W98200
1926 W141452—W143240 W98201—W98306
1927 W143241—W145458 W98307—W98421
1928 W145459—W147739 W98422—W98612
1929 W147740—W149727 W98613—W98676
1930 W149728—W151134 W98677—W98724
1931 W151135—W152058 W98725—W98750
1932 W152059—W152340
1933 W152341—W152665
1934 W152666—W152772  —


Table 4:

Release Dates: General U.S. Catalog Series

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YearTen InchTwelve Inch
1901 1—ca. 500
1902 ca. 500—ca. 1000
1903 ca. 1000—ca. 1540
1904 ca. 1540—ca. 1999
1905 ca. 3000—3292
1906 3293—3526 30000—30037
1907 3527—3738 30038—30103
1908 3739—3918 30104—30129
  A1—A604 A5000—A5078
1909 A605—A765 A5079—A5137
1910 A766—A929 A5138—A5232
1911 A930—A1078 A5233—A5329
1912 A1079—A1228 A5330—A5426
1913 A1229—A1425 A5427—A5508
1914 A1426—A1615 A5509—A5609
1915 A1616—A1861 A5610—A5734
1916 A1862—A2114 A5735—A5889
1917 A2115—A2394 A5890—A5996
1918 A2395—A2646 A5997—A6077
1919 A2647—A2801 A6078—A6123
1920 A2802—A2999 A6124—A6169
1921 A3306—A3488 A6170—A6201
1922 A3489—A3719 A6202—A6222
1923 A3720—A4001 A6223—A6233
1924 1-D—225-D 50000-D—50011-D
1925 226-D—478-D 50012-D—50017-D
1926 479-D—767-D 50018-D—50027-D
1927 768-D—1153-D 50028-D—50051-D
1928 1154-D—1592-D 50052-D—50098-D
1929 1593-D—2013-D 50099-D—50182-D
1930 2014-D—2324-D 50183-D—50259-D
1931 2325-D—2562-D 50260-D—50311-D
1932 2563-D—2724-D 50312-D—ca. 50340-D
1933 2725-D—2847-D ca. 50340—50372-D
1934 2848-D —2970-D 50373-D—50375-D


Table 5:

Release Dates: Ethnic “E” Series

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 YearTen InchTwelve Inch
1908 E1—E300  E5000—E5018
1909 E300—E550
1910 E550—E650  —
1911 E650—E900 E5019—E5020
1912 E900—E1050 E5021—E5029
1913 E1050—E1650 E5030—E5049
1914 E1650—E 1970 E5050—E5064
1915 E1970—E2500 E5065—E5116
1916 E2500—E3000 E5117—E5129
1917 E3000—E3590 E5130—E5159
1918 E3590—E4050 E5160—E5174
1919 E4050—E4410 E5175—E5185
1920 E4410—E4800 E5186—E5205
1921 E4800—E4999 E5206—E5221
1922 E7343—E7670 E5222—E5239
1923 E7670—E7999 E5240—E5283
  E9000—E9112  —

In 1923 Columbia switched to an F-suffix series for its domestic ethnic releases. However instead of intermixing nationalities in one sequential series as before, it designated separate blocks of numbers for each nationality. Thus Bohemian titles were assigned the blocks 1F to 999F (for 10”) and 50000F to 50999F (12”); Croatian titles, 1000F to 1999F (10”) and 51000F to 51999F (12”); and so on. Twenty-eight blocks were established in the range 1F to 34999F for 10”, and 50000F to 75999F for 12”. (More blocks were added later). Needless to say this complicated system does not lend itself to a simple dating chart such as the one I have compiled for the E-prefix series.

The F-suffix series continued to be used into the 1950s. A parallel X-suffix series was used for export titles, replacing such former series as B, C and H-prefix. See Spottswood, Ethnic Music on Records, pp. xxxiv-xxxvii for more details.


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