The emergence of the Victor label is inexorably linked the the development of the His Master's Voice label owned by the British company Gramophone and Typewriter Co (G&T) whose origins start with the developer of the disc record Emile Berliner. It all started in 1895 when Eldridge R. Johnson, the owner of a small machine shop in Camden, New jersey (USA), was approached by Berliner to make clockwork gramophone motors; these were first installed in Berliner's gramophones in 1896. In the same year Johnson developed a copper-plating process to improve the production of discs, and also improved the soundbox on the record players, now providing the complete player unit to Berliner, as the Gramophone, through his Berliner Gramophone Company. However, in 1899 the ‘gramophone' name came into dispute and extensive litigation took place in America as only the Americans know how. The biographical history of Berliner is fascinating, and the fact that his motherland was Germany probably did not help his cause although the first world war was still two decades off. The litigation was brought about by Frank Seaman of the National Gramophone Co. And was so caustic that it resulted in Berliner not being abe tonhave full control on his record producing patents in the USA. So he returned to Germany. Entry Johnson again, who decided to hell with the word ‘Gramophone' anyway, and reregistered the Victor Talking Machine Company in October 1901, with stock divided between Johnson and Berliner. Incidentally, from this point of time the word ‘gramophone' became generic in Britain for a disc-record playing machine, whilst the Americans adopted the word ‘ phonograph'.
With the main legalitties out of the way, the Victor company took major strides forward. Johnson opened a recording studio in New York's famous Carnegie Hall on 30 April 1903, and the following year their esteemed Red Sea label was introduced, recording opera and the classics on 10 and 12-inch records, and even, to order, a special 14-inch record. In 1`905 Victor took over the Universal Talking Machine Co., and its Zon-O-Phone label.
In 1907 Victor (Johnson in the USA) and G & T (Belriner in the UK and Germany) signed an agreement diving the world into two trading zones, which remained in force for the next fifty years. In 1908 Victor issued its first double-sided disc.
The Victor Talking Machine Company continued to grow through its release of recordings on the Victor label, and through its well received Victrola player. In 1920 Victor purchased a controlling interest in the Gramophone Company of England, and thus Johnson now controlled both world trade areas (yet the tradfing terms still remained in terms of marketing), and also had control of the famous HMV label as well as the Victor label.
In 1925, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) emerges on the Victor scene when an agreement was made to include RCA radios in Victrola players - the ‘radiogram' was born.
In 1926 the whole conglomerate was sold out to an American syndicate of Seligman & Co., and Speyer & Co., (probably on the retirement of Johnson, who died in 1945). The two companies, Victor Talking Machine Co., and The Gramophone Company as it was now called, remained to operate under their own names. In January 1929, Seligman and Speyer sold Victor to RCA (and operated under the name RCA Victor Company Inc.).
It would appear that these arrangements lasted for nearly a decade. In 1957 the link with RCA and the HMV label and company in the UK came to an end. American RCA's pressings in the UK and distribution were now to be handled by English Decca, with HMV going on its own. By now of course the days of the 78rpm disc were over and RCA were well into their promotion of the 45rom microgroove recordwhich became popular for ‘hit single'.
Labels: Early Victor labels credited manufacture to the Victor Talking Machine Company which first appeared on the label in 1901. The trademark word's ‘His Master's Voice', which Johnson acquired frrom Emile Berliner did not appear on the label till 1902. Double-sided pressing came about in 1908.The perimeter scroll label was introduced in 1926, after electrical recording had just recorded.
Artists: To Victor goes the honour of having issued the first authentic jazz record, the Original Dixieland ‘Jass' Band's Livery Stable Blues/Dixie ‘Jass' Band One-Step in March 1917 (Victor 128255). Note - to be exact, Columbia recorded the first ODJB in January 1917 but did not release the record until after Victor's release. Sutton [S] continues, ‘Despite its pioneering effort, Victor quickly retreated from the booming jazz market that it had healped to create. Competition began to undercut Victor's poistion in the early 1920s aas newcomers to the record industry began to record in remote locations and catered to markets previously ignored by Victor'. Many (most?) of the these original recordings were of negro bands, hence the term ‘race' records used to describe them. For some reason, Victor abandoned the great jazz music on the scene but continued to record country and western music - some of the executive of Victor must have been on the funny weed!
Main refrences: Sutton,
Directory of American Disc Barnds; Rust, The American Record Label Book;
Dearling, The Guiness Book of Recorded Sound. Longwell [L] displays no
less than sixty (differerent? Labels on his website.In January 1929, Seligman
and Speyer sold Victor to RCA, which now operated the recording company
as RCA Victor Company Inc. By now Victor was back into jazz with a vengence
and recorded some of the best American jazz available at the time. The
following four example refelect this. The records were made by the RCA
Manufacturing Co. Inc., of Camden, New Jersey.
R020 sc4 VICTOR GRAND PRIZE RECORD
Victor Talking Machine Co., Camden, N.J. [USA]
5592. TAFFY (Vincent Bryant, Albert Von Tilzer)
Miss Jones and Mr Murray, with Haydn Quartet
and Orchestra. Duet-Quartet and Orchestra.
[With oririginal Victor sleeve.]
J0392 sc3+ VICTOR
RCA Manufacturing Co., Camden, NJ, USA
25398-A. MOONGLOW (Will Hudson). Benny Goodman Quartet. Clarinet, vibraphone, piano, traps.
25398-B. DINAH (Lewis, Young, Akst). Ibid.
J688 c3+ VICTOR SWING CLASSIC
RCA Manufacturing Co. Inc, Camden, NJ, USA
25558-A . SHINE (Dabney, Mack, ?). Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grapelly. Vocal by Freddie Taylor. Recorded in Europe.
25558-B. NAGASAKI (Mort Dixon, Harry Warren). Ibid.
J0395 sc4 HIS MASTER'S VOICE VICTOR RCA Victor Co. Limited, Montreal, Canada.
26090-A (P3-5). 'S WONDERFUL (Ira and George Gershwin)
Benny Goodman Quartet. Clarinet, vibraphone, piano and drums.
26090-B (P3-6). I MUST HAVE THAT MAN (Dorothy Field, Jimmy McHugh)
Benny Goodman Trio. Clarinet, piano, and drums.
J0370 sc3+ VICTOR RCA Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Camden, N.J. USA. Swing Series.
26310-A . ROCKIN' IN RHYTHM (Ellington, Careny, Mills)
Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Duke Ellington, piano. Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard, saxes. 'Cootie' Williams, Arthur Wheise, Freddy Jenkins, trumpets. 'Tricky Sam' Nanton, Juan Tizol, trombones. Welman Braud, bass. Sonny Greer, drums, Fred Guy, banjo.
26310-B. NO PAPA NO (Victoria Spivi). Ibid.
And now, one from Canada.
L174 c3 HIS MASTER'S VOICE Beliner Gram-O-Phone Co. Ltd., Montreal. Canada.
18902-A (397). LOVEABLE EYES (Schwartz). From, ‘Make it Snappy'.
Club Royal Orchestra Under the Direction of Clyde Doerr.
18902-B (397). I LOVE HER - SHE LOVES ME (Caesar). From, ‘Make it Snappy'.
Zez Confrey and His Orchestra. Zez Confrey at the Piano.