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See Frank Andrews, Hillandale News 181, August 1991. In this article, Frank deals with the various disc labels sold by the Co-operative Wholesale Society. Their most commonly-encountered label is the 8″ (20cm) Unison record, clones of the Broadcast label. These, being electrically recorded, do not fall under our umbrella, so to speak. However, about 1926, a small batch of 10″ (25cm) ‘Jaycee’ issues were manufactured by Crystalate, from their acoustic Imperial masters. It had always been assumed by collectors that these were sold by the ‘Co-op’, on the grounds that ‘Jaycee’ was a brand of cigarettes sold by the CWS, and hence a ‘house marque’. Frank attempted to establish this as a definite fact. On the plus side, ‘J. C.’ were the initials of John Cragg, who founded the CWS tobacco factory in 1898 and ran it for 37 years. But in spite of his efforts in corresponding with the CWS archive and requesting information in the CWS magazine ‘Wheatsheaf’, Frank was not able to establish this as a fact. Therefore, as ‘J.C.’ must be a very common pair of initials, we can only sum up by saying that a small pilot batch of around 20 Jaycee issues appeared around 1926. Because they did not sell very well (they are scarce), no further issues were made. Still, the client might have been the CWS – but who knows?


See Frank Andrews: FTR 4, 2002/3, pp 196-7. Frank researched this German label on the basis that the company was granted a registered trade mark in the U.K. in August 1912. As one would expect, the illustration was of Janus, a senior Roman god with two faces – one looking forwards, the other backwards, being the god of portals, and of beginnings. Therefore it must have been the intention of the parent company (Vereinigte Schallplatten-werke Janus-MinervaG.m.b.H.) to market discs over here, either directly, or by appointing a British agent. Apparently they did not do so; at least, none have ever been found, but that is not quite the same thing. They may have just sent over some samples – who knows? Besides, a rumour persists that a few Janus records carry British recordings. In that case they would qualify for inclusion here on that ground alone. If there is a U.K. involvement it would be circa 1912-1914.

JLCO – actually ILCO, q.v.


See Frank Andrews: TMR 73, 1987; FTR 5, 2003, pp268-273. The first article has many rare and fascinating illustrations; the second embodies his more recent research. It is impossible to summarise Frank’s long and excellent articles here. Suffice it to say that these records are common, and were sold from 1909 to 1913. They were not sold in shops, but door to door, by the ‘tallyman’ method. A salesman would call, and offer a gramophone on free loan for a year, as long as the ‘borrower’ bought one record a week during that time. The gramophone then became the property of the record buyer. The catch was that the price of the discs was 2/6d (12.5p). This was expensive at the time, and became even more so as the years passed. This, because ‘price wars’ soon raged, knocking the cost of good, well-made discs down as low as 1/1d (5.2p). Indeed, many of the same masters that appeared on John Bull (always at 2/6d) were available on other makes at 1/6d and even below. The orthodox gramophone trade detested the John Bull and similar labels; not so much because they were fleecing the public, but because the tallymen had few if any overheads – e.g. no shop premises to rent. They were therefore competing with normal retailers by ‘unfair’ means. First made in Germany by Beka, that company was pressurised to stop doing so. They were then made by Favorite, and also made in the U.K. Their catalogue and face numbering is a minefield, as they sometimes held over the same number for re-recordings. There is one John Bull here remade by Favorite, where Favorite (usually a very meticulous company as to detail) have used the original Beka master number as their face number. The company history is also very complex, but in late 1913 ownership passed to the Albion Record Co. Still, in spite of all the ramifications, they certainly did manage to shift a lot of records – they turn up commonly to this very day, though the special commemorative 1910 King George V Coronation record is scarce. Incidentally, since being a child (yes, I had ‘old 78s’ even then!) I have always found the image of the bulldog horribly repulsive, more like a Hound of the Baskervilles – though that particular canine was a giant mastiff; still, I wouldn’t like to meet the ‘John Bull’ bulldog on a dark night…


See Frank Andrews & Arthur Badrock, TMR68, 1984. This was one of a related group of five small-diameter records, manufactured for the British Homophone company by none less than ‘Mighty HMV’. HMV tended not to manufacture discs for other people; one assumes they were generally absorbed in higher things. 8^)  However, in 1926 they did a great deal of recording and pressing for Sternberg, head of British Homophone. HMV had adopted the new Western Electric recording system in early 1925, but these small 6″ (15.25cm) discs were made by the old mechanical system. It is conjectured that this was to keep the cost as low as possible, for there was a royalty of one penny per disc to be paid to WE for this new technology. The principal label concerned was ‘Homo-Baby’; the satellite labels were Sterno-Baby, Jolly Boys as here, Dixy, and one single Conquest disc. All are scarce to boot. Not everything on Homo-Baby appeared on its clones. It is not known who retailed Jolly Boys or Dixy.


See Frank Andrews, FTR 10. Suppose you were to find an early 10″ diameter single-sided disc with a red label and white printing? And suppose the name of the tune was wrapped around the top of the label rather than the make of the record? Well; if the label went on to say: Joseph Williams Ltd., 32 Great Portland St., London W., then you would have found a very, very scarce disc indeed! For Joseph Williams was a music publisher, and Frank informs us that a number of his works were recorded by the International Zonophone Co. around 1901-1904. Evidently pleased by this, Williams got Zonophone to make custom pressings of the discs of his material, with the above-described label. Presumably he sold them in Great Portland Street, or used them to demonstrate his tunes, songs and works. Who knows? But as Frank points out, this label must be one of the earliest ‘contract pressings’ in this country. Hen’s teeth.


See Frank Andrews, BRI, and above all, Frank Andrews: ‘A Fonitipia Fragmentia’ TMR 40, 41, 42, 44, 45. June 1976 – April 1977. Jumbo records were enormously successful, and still turn up frequently 100 years later. They appeared in this country in August 1908. They became, in effect, a ‘budget label’ ofFonitipia; indeed, ‘MADE FOR THE FONITIPIA COMPANIES’ is pressed into the wax of many of them. However, the complex relationship between Odeon,Fonitipia and Jumbo (all eventually under the umbrella of the Carl Lindström concern) is too difficult for me to understand. So reference to Frank’s writings above is really essential. Of course, he will have brought his research more up to date in recent years, and we are well aware that on these pages we are making references to articles written many years ago. Still, we cannot request Frank to revise everything he has written in the last forty-odd years, just so that I can provide a reference here! But all the fundamental information on these labels is contained in the above articles. What more can we say? The first example above is odd, in that it has no elephant – just a blank space. Frank Andrews believes that this was because there was already a label in the U.K.called Elephone, which had, rather predictably, an elephant as a trade mark. In any event, Elephone went bust in 1909, so the way was clear for Jumbo to take over the elephant trade mark, at least for gramophone records. Jumbo records were firstly a product of the Jumbo Record Fabrik GmbH, located at Frankfurt an der Oder, nowadays in the extreme east of Germany on the Polish border, and not to be confused with the larger Frankfurt am Main, which is 300 miles to the south west. Of the Jumbos illustrated above, only the first (and manifestly the earliest) was actually pressed at Frankfurt an der Oder. German Jumbo was a subsidiary of the International Talking Machine Co. GmbH of Berlin, but British issues (very soon with British recordings too) were first pressed here by Crystalate, and later at their own factory – hence ‘Manufactured in England’ is the rule with this label. They carried many masters of what might loosely be called ‘Odeon’ origin. These can easily be told by a small gap, or scroll, at some point in the groove. This was a patented device, which would immediately reveal the ‘pirating’ of an ‘Odeon’ master. Discs were pirated by taking a shellac pressing, coating it with graphite and electroplating from it, just as if it were a wax master. This form of piracy was apparently common in those early days, especially in eastern Europe and Russia. On the outbreak of War in August 1914, Jumbo was able to continue for some time, as it was produced by a properly established and constituted British Company. However, in 1916 the ‘Trading With The Enemy Act’ of 1914 was applied with increasing rigour, and various ‘German’ companies were suppressed. By then,Lindström/Beka/Odeon/Jumbo had built their own pressing factory at Hertford. This was taken over by the Board of Trade, and those labels ceased to appear. However, fairly soon that pressing plant came under the control of the ‘Columbia’ company, and the Jumbo catalogue, still having popular appeal, was resurrected as the Venus Record. ‘Venus’ was a name registered to Columbia. So Jumbo metamorphosed into Venus, and it is perfectly possible to have Venus records which ‘reach back’ into the Jumbo catalogue numbers. Jumbo 1538 above is a high number; while we have a Venus 1363 illustrated elsewhere. The significance of the Jumbo B-333 and A-503 is not known; numbers with prefixes are uncommon. It’s the same on both sides, so is not a side A/side B indication. The ‘Tripletone’ legend on 781 indicates a record cut very loud, for playing in a hall, or in the open air. They worked well, but naturally were prone to a high rate of wear.


See Frank Andrews: FTR 10, 2004, pp74-75. This bedraggled label, which has been removed from its disc, is still worthy of a place here. There were relatively few private individuals who had their own records made – but bass-baritone Charles Knowles was one. Only two issues were made, 0101 and 0102. The date is uncertain, but Frank suggests they were contemporary with the black and yellow Currys, which would make them about 1922. If you look at the large image, you will see some handwriting under the label to the right of the composer credit: ‘WD 3’. WD is the indefatigable William Ditcham, who was currently a recording expert for the Sound Recording Company. So these 2 elusive discs were presumably recorded by the SRC and pressed by Crystalate.

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British disc records of the 'Acoustic' Era.