The Gramophone Co. Ltd.


British company founded 1897 (incorporated 1898) by William Barry Owen and Trevor Williams, commissioned by Emile Berliner, inventor of the gramophone and founder of the U.S. Gramophone Company (1893). The Gramophone Co.'s initial business was artist and repertoire-management and to import gramophones (disc recorders) and discs from the U.S.A. It opened its first recording studio in Maiden Lane, London, on 6 August 1898. Soon discs were manufactured as well, provided by the German associated company 'Deutsche Grammophon GmbH' (est. 1898, also by Emil Berliner) to counter an embargo created in the US by a former shareholder of the US company using patents.

For the company located in Sydney, NSW, Australia, please use The Gramophone Co. Ltd. (2), for the unrelated South African company use Gramophone Record Co. Ltd.

In December 1900 The Gramophone Co. Ltd. was absorbed into a new company, The Gramophone And Typewriter Ltd. which was renamed The Gramophone Co. Ltd. in November 1907. During this period it also acquired all the shares in Deutsche Grammophon GmbH. It aggressively moved into territories around the world.

The Gramophone Co. Ltd. was, from 1900 until 1956, the agent for the Victor Talking Machine Company, later RCA, around the world with the exception of the Americas, China and Japan, where the license was reversed.

Its first name used on the labels was Gramophone Record, accompanied by the Angel trademark, in 1909 it started using the His Master's Voice trademark on their records, initially as a separate label to accompany Gramophone-labelled releases and later becoming synonymous of the company. Other labels used at that time were Gramophone Monarch Record for 12" records and Gramophone Concert Record for 10" records. The Angel trademark was subsequently later used by Electric & Musical Industries (U.S.) Ltd. to create the Angel Records label in the US in 1953.

In March 1931, The Gramophone Company's worldwide operations are combined with those of Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd. to form the (holding) company Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI). From 1956 until 1965 The Gramophone Co. Ltd. was administered by E.M.I. Records Limited.

On the 1st June 1965 Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. reorganises its music related companies - E.M.I. Records Limited, The Parlophone Co. Ltd., Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd. is merged into The Gramophone Co. Ltd. which becomes the principal company behind its record division (and the H.M.V. record stores), subsequently bringing the back catalogues under one administrative control, and the rights to the labels, Parlophone, Odeon, Columbia, Regal, etc. under its direct registered ownership, alongside its own directly registered labels (trademarks), His Masters Voice, Angel Records, Zonophone, Stateside, Electrola, (The Twin). etc. From this period the credit "E.M.I. Records (The Gramophone Co. Ltd.)" often appears on releases - "E.M.I. Records" being the trading name (division name) of The Gramophone Co. Ltd. (The Columbia and Parlophone companies, though no longer operating separately, remained registered entities until the early 1990s, with E.M.I. Records Limited being folded into the company early 1973.)

On 16th June 1965 a joint partnership is formed with "Paul Hamlyn Publishing Group" and Music For Pleasure Limited was established in the UK, which later included subsidiary branches in, South Africa, Australia, France, Germany, Belgium. etc.. TGCL took full control on 1st Jan 1971.

In May 1969 the company launched its "Progressive" label Harvest, with acts formerly signed under its other labels being resigned to this new label - including Pink Floyd, Deep Purple.

On 1st July 1973, The Gramophone Company Limited was renamed to EMI Records Ltd. subsequently becoming the direct registered owner of the various imprints.

For Shellac pressings, the company used the following matrix entries:
At 6 o'clock: 4 digits with spaces, for the master number (e.g. 2 3 1 9) and a small cap letter (e.g. a) for the engineer and the format: a, b, c = Fred Gaisberg, where a = 7″, b = 10″, c = 12″ discs. d, e, f = Will Gaisberg, where d = 7″, e = 10″, f = 12″ discs.
At 12 o'clock: The catalogue number, followed by a roman numeral, e.g. Ⅰ,Ⅱ, Ⅲ etc. for the stamper.

A new system was introduced in March 1921, e.g. Bb 6880 Ⅲ △, at 6 o'clock. The first letter indicates the format (A= unknown, B = 10″, C = 12″, D = 7"). The second, small cap letter was for the master series (19 different letters were used). Then followed a roman numeral for the take number and a triangle indicating the Western Electric Recording system.

Since 1912 the company used for their inhouse pressings the 9 & 3 o'clock locations for mother and stamper identity respectively (oriented to the matrix). For stampers the company used the 10-digit code "GRAMOPHLTD"; G=1 R=2 A=3 M=4 O=5 P=6 H=7 L=8 T=9 D=10, at 3 o'clock.
Note: On some late 1950s/early 1960s product J can be found stamped at three o'clock, meaning is unknown. Sometimes other letters can be seen with the J, eg JO, JR etc.

The plant also undertook contract pressings for other companies. Contract pressings never credit TGCL directly.

Pressings using lacquers from external mastering studios:
The letter U was added at the stage of making the 'father'. It indicates that the lacquers were cut by an external mastering studio, and can be identified by a characteristic runout pattern: -xU (e.g. -1U). A record with "CAS 1027 A -1U" in the runout can be broken down as follows:
"CAS 1027" is the catalogue number (here for Charisma). "A" is the side identifier. "1U" is the cut number with U identifying an external mastering (hence contract pressing). Further etchings show the mother and stamper numbers.

The Gramophone Co. Ltd. had various so-called sister companies in different countries, such as: Deutsche Grammophon-Aktiengesellschaft/Deutsche Grammophon GmbH (Germany), Cie Française Du Gramophone (France, Österreichische Grammophon-Gesellschaft m.b.H. (Austria-Hungary), The Gramophone Company (Czechoslovakia) Ltd., spol. s r.o., Skandinavisk Grammophon Aktieselskab (Denmark), Skandinaviska Grammophon AB (Sweden), The Russian Gramophone Co. Ltd. (Russia). The Gramophone Company Of India Ltd. (India).

On some shellac a box with G. C. L. (G. C. L.) can be mistaken for a publisher, but it is a acronym [G]ramophone [C]ompany [L]imited, add this as Record Company in LCCN

Parent Label:EMI Ltd.
Sublabels:"Pathé" Series, Cie Française Du Gramophone, Compañía Del Gramófono S.A.E., Compañía Francesa Del Gramophone Barcelona, Disco "Grammofono", Disco Concerto "Grammofono", Disco Monarca "Grammofono", E.M.I. Records, E.M.I. Records Limited, Electrola Gesellschaft m.b.H., ...
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The Gramophone Co. Ltd.

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