Thursday, 20 February 2014

The EMI Record Sleeves - The 78rpm Years Part 2

The second in what will be a trilogy of articles looking at the 78rpm record sleeves issued by the three companies that would merge under the EMI banner: His Master's Voice, Columbia and Parlophone. This is the one I've been most anticipating posting, because these are the record sleeves I most remember as a young child, when the record player would come out as a treat.

There are three sets of sleeves here which I always referred to as the "Brown One", the "White One" and the "Pop One". So let's start with the "Brown One".

These sleeves, along with the Pop sleeves are probably the best surviving sleeves and can easily be found in antiques shops today. Whether they hold their original records, or even a record from the same label as the sleeve, is not always to be guaranteed!

The White sleeves, with the possible exception of the His Master's Voice sleeve are the rarest of the sleeves featured in this article. We had just one example of the Parlophone sleeve (which held Jimmy Shand and His Band playing Bluebell Polka/The Veleta) and I only vaguely remembered the Columbia one which had held a record which got broken and the sleeve was thrown away with the record. Only recently did I find and add this example to my collection.

By comparison there are still lots of these to be found, although the Parlophone example is perhaps a little harder to find than the other two. These sleeves held the "Pop" or popular records - records aimed at the new and burgeoning teenage market. They came right at the end of the 78rpm era and overlapped with the new vinyl seven inch records that had to be played at what seemed a slow 45 revolutions per minute (rpm). It was so slow you could read the labels as they were spinning! The same sleeves were used on the new 45rpm records with the exception of Columbia who used the same colour scheme but a slightly different drawing.

These will feature in an article at some time in the future, but we still have one more EMI sleeve article to come from the 78rpm era yet which will feature a few variant and speciality sleeves from the "big three" labels. We will also have a look at some of the other sleeves from the 78rpm years and then present a few of the label designs themselves, as over the years many of them had many different versions. A few articles to go then before we exhaust the possibilities of these old records!

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