Columbia Records, 1901-1934: A History
Columbia Master Book, Volume I, Tim Brooks, author.
There is a shrine, somewhere, to Thomas A. Edison and his “favorite invention,” the phonograph.1 The Victor Talking Machine Company and its founder, Eldridge R Johnson, rate a museum in Delaware. Thanks in no small part to that clever painting of a puzzled terrier peering into the horn of an old phonograph seeking “His Master’s Voice,” the Victor legend has spread far and wide.
There was, however, a third company completing the triumvirate that dominated the record business in the early 1900s. Far from forgotten, this company “grew up” to become the preeminent marketer of recordings in the U.S. today. For a variety of reasons, Columbia has been less studied by scholars, and less loved by collectors, than Edison and Victor. This book seeks to redress this imbalance by documenting the company’s earliest disc recordings. In this section we will trace the company’s corporate history, look at its recording program, disc numbering, and physical characteristics of its products, and finally offer biographical sketches of Columbia executives.
- Entering the Disc Business
- The Climax Label
- Victor Steals Climax!
- The Columbia Label
- Grand Opera Series
- Leased Masters
- The Awards Wars
- The Marconi Label
- The Depression of 1908
- Double-Discs | Table 1: Columbia Double-Disc Prefixes
- Indestructible Cylinders | Table 2: Total U.S. Production of Cylinders and Discs
- Columbia Demonstration Records
- Personal Recording
- The End of an Era and New Directions
- The Early 1920s
- Electrical Recording and the Late 1920s
- Market Crash, 1929, and the Early 1930s
- Popular Recordings, 1901-1925
- African-American Artists
- Popular Recordings, 1925-1934
- Classical Recordings
- Foreign Language Recordings
- Political Recordings
Numbering, Physical Characteristics, and Miscellaneous
- Accompaniments and Spoken Announcements
- Matrix and Take Numbering
- Physical Characteristics
- Turntable Speeds
Appendix F: Bibliography
The Columbia Master Book Discography, 4 Volumes, Complied by Brian Rust and Tim Brooks. Reprinted by permission.