Edison "Red Star" Discs

Edison Red Star Disc

During 1923 and 1924 Edison issued discs with a large red star over the title and artist section of the label. They were officially known as "General Group" records, which were by artists of uncertain popularity. This was to inform dealers that they were not required to stock them as per their agreements with Edison and that if ordered from the factory, unsold stock could not be returned. 

How Edison determined what was designated for "General Group" needs further investigation, but clearly some are foreign language, hot dance, or classical selections that may have had a narrower audience than most Edison recordings. Others are new artists that were probably being tested out. But some are artists such as Harvey Hindermeyer, who had been making Edison records for many years, and the reasons for the red star designation are unclear. 

How the red star was perceived by the buying public, if at all, in the mid-1920s is subject to speculation, but to a collector today the red star is often a clue that the disc might be unusual, rare, and potentially more interesting than some other Edison Recordings. 

Many "Red Star" records are available in DAHR, including songs by such artists as Huston Ray, Ernest L. Stevens, Homestead Trio, Jones and Hare, Víctor Justiniano Rosales, Al Burt Dance Orchestra, Broadway Dance Orchestra, Harvey Hindermyer, Atlantic Dance Orchestra, Edith Gaile, and William Bonner.

Below are some examples of Red Star discs that are digitized and online: 

Some little someone / Broadway Dance Orchestra (Edison matrix 8819, recorded 1/23/1923)

The fuzzy wuzzy bird / Al Burt Dance Orchestra (Edison matrix 8694, recorded 12/14/1922)

Black Star Line / Ernest Hare (Edison matrix 9579, recorded 6/23/1924)

There's only one Mary in Maryland / Harvey Hindermyer (Edison matrix 8832, recorded 1/31/1923)

At dawning / Edith Gaile (Edison matrix 8856, recorded 2/20/1923)

Rose, my rose / William Bonner (Edison matrix 8857, recorded 2/20/1923)

Concert fantasie / Huston Ray (Edison matrix 8532, recorded 7/13/1922)

Just an old love song / Homestead Trio (Edison matrix 8807, recorded 1/3/1923)

Tú / Víctor Justiniano Rosales (Edison matrix 9802, recorded 10/22/1924)

In a caravan / Charlie Kerr Orchestra (Edison matrix 8903, recorded 4/3/1923)

Though there are no complete listings of "Red Star" discs by which to make a detailed analyis of the content, it's always interesting to discover one in a collection and try to imagine why it was given this status.

- David Seubert, UC Santa Barbara (David is the Project Director of the Discography of American Historical Recordings)


(Source: Collector's guide to Edison Records / George A. Copeland and Michael W. Sherman. Tustin, CA: Monarch Record Enterprises, 2012.)