Fontana Special


This is a series, not a label. Only add this in the series field, together with the label of the release (Fontana).
This series is used for the French variant ("Fontana Spécial") too. For the German variant see Fontana Spezial instead. For the Spanish variant see Fontana Especial.

Fontana Special, the first budget line on a major label, started being developed in 1967 in the Common Market countries, based on nationalistic lines (with German product distributed in Germany, Italian product in Italy, etc). The line made its UK debut March 8, 1968 (see Merc.'s Group Cats Takes 3-Wk. Look-See at Scene in America, “Billboard”, April 15, 1967, page 52 and Nigel Hunter, Fontana Special, 1st Budget Line On Major Label, to Debut in U.K., “Billboard”, March 9, 1968, pages 43, 45). At the end of 1970, at the conclusion of Philips plans to form a company in order to expand activities in the budget record field worlwide, Fontana Special started operating autonomously as a joint Polydor-Philips budget label (see Philips Budget Entry Is Set; Aim Global Thrust, “Billboard”, July 25, 1970, page 58 and Philips, RCA Hike Prices in England, “Billboard”, January 2, 1971, page 41).

In the UK, Fontana Special was introduced in March 1968 with a retail price of 12/6 per record, rising to 13/11 a little later. Its campaign slogan was "FONTANA SPECIAL STEREO SERIES SETS A NEW STANDARD IN VALUE". The SFL 13000 series and SFL 14000 series were launched at the same time, the latter primarily devoted to classical releases.

The earliest UK releases had a 3-section logo on the top right of the front cover:
Top: "stereo" in large text with "Playable Mono" underneath in smaller text - black text on a red background
Middle: Black and white "fontana" logo
Bottom: "special" in large text - black text on a red background
Furthermore releases with this logo had flipback sleeves with no lamination on the back.

During 1969, UK releases migrated to a modified 3-section logo on the top right of the front cover:
Top: "special" in large text - black text on a red background
Middle: Black and white "fontana" logo
Bottom: "special" in large text - black text on a red background. Sometimes the numerical part of the catalog number was included in small text at the bottom right of this section.
These later releases had no sleeve flipbacks and were fully laminated on both sides.

In a number of cases, items initially released with flipback sleeves and featuring the earlier logo also exist with the newer logo, no flipbacks and fully laminated sleeve. There may have been a changeover period when the earlier logo was briefly used on the fully laminated sleeve without flipbacks.

Not long before the series was withdrawn in the UK at the end of March 1972, the catalogue number style changed to an entirely numeric 7-digit format, dropping the SFL prefix. These releases included the words "SFL Price Code" in a square box underneath the catalog number on the sleeve back.

A number of UK Fontana Special releases subsequently reappeared on the Contour label.

Outside the UK, there exist some more specialised subseries, listed below in the sublabels field.

Parent Label:Fontana
Sublabels:A Arte Maior De, A Popularidade De, Die Senioren Diskothek, Fontana Special Chansons, Fontana Special Classique, Fontana Special Danse, Fontana Special Folklore, Fontana Special International, Fontana Special Jazz, Fontana Special Pop, ...


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  • SirPeters Avatar
    Just submitted some useful information pertaining to this series.
    Thus, any pre 1967 dates submitted require amendment by a discogs mediator.