How to identify vinyl:
Deutsche Grammophon and related labels (e.g. Archiv, Heliodor, Polydor, Brunswick, Verve, Karussell) and others (e.g. Coral, MGM, A&M, Buddah, United Artists, etc.):
Vinyl masterings can be identified by a "Made in Germany" or "∆Made in Germany∆" stamped into the runout (between ca. 1945 and 1967). Note that the string can appear anywhere on the release and should not be confused with Philips Hamburg (usually "upside down" at 12 o'clock and in a smaller font size) or Sonopress masterings.
Until May 1954 the mastering date can be identified by a four to six digit date, e.g. 21.10.52 or 3.3.53 or 13.2.54.
Decomposing a DGG matrix number (since 1954)
Example: 1 ℗ 1969 L9 ◇Z ᴒ 00 212083 S1=1
1 = Number of the Mother.
℗ 1969 = Intended first release date (used between 1961 and 1974). It often happens that the ℗ and mastering dates differ, e.g. "℗ 1968 L 70" or "℗ 1970 M9", sometimes even significantly, e.g. "℗ 1964 H70".
L9 = Mastering date (since June 1954). Consisting of a letter and one or two figures (e.g. "J4" or "L 8" or "H70"), usually found after the cat# or the ℗ date. The letter symbolises the month (A = January, B = February, C = March, D = April, E = May, F = June, G = July, H = August, I or J = September, K = October, L = November, M = December), and the figures the year of the mastering, e.g. 3 = 1953 or 1963, 4 = 1954 or 1964, 9 = 1959 or 1969. Since 1970 the systematic is 70, 71, until it was given up by July 1972 and replaced by "320" for all DGG and related pressings.
◇Z = meaning unknown. Introduced mid 1964 and consists of a diamond followed by a letter, eg. ♢K, ♢P, ♢N, ♢S, ♢W, ♢Z.
From 1969 to 1972 there also was a star ✳ used, e.g. ✳G, ✳Z.
ᴒ = Stamper number. One or two letters, rotated 90°: A=1, B=2, C=3, ..., Z=26, AA=27, ..., AG=34, etc.
00 = indicates the repertoire owner and/or the ordering company (introduced around 1968). Examples: 00 = DGG/Polydor, incl. all sub labels and distributed labels; 10 = Phonogram/Philips, incl. all sub labels and distributed labels; 25 = Custom pressings for MPS, Center, SABA; 27 = Custom pressings for CBS and their sub labels; 28 = Custom pressings for Metronome or the Metronome-licensed Atlantic and Elektra labels; 36 = Custom pressings for the Bertelsmann Club; 99 = Custom pressings for various.
212083 = The cat # (here A&M).
S1/S2 = Side indicator. The variants with "=" (eg. "S1=1" or "=2 S1") stand for the number of the transfer to acetate. They are DGG mastering indicators only.
Polydor 10" shellac releases between 1946 and 1950 feature 3 to 5 digits plus KK (e.g. 687 KK or 1192 KK). The digits are the (former) direct cut matrix numbers and KK was a sequential Polydor matrix letter pair (wartime releases ended with KI). 12" releases have a leading zero (e.g. 01253KK). KK was dropped by the end of 1950 and replaced by other letters, e.g. "6668 HN".
Between 1951 and ca. 1958, the plant used 1, 2 or 3 letters, often followed by roman numerals (Ⅰ, Ⅱ, Ⅲ, X). The meaning is still not clear. Prior to 1946 they identified the matrix series assigned to an engineer and the studio used but if that system has been carried on is unknown. Examples:
BM, BS, CS, DS, DS Ⅱ, GH, GN, GS, GS Ⅱ, GS Ⅲ, H, H Ⅱ, H Ⅲ, HN, HS, HS Ⅱ, HS Ⅲ, KS, KS Ⅱ, LW, LW Ⅱ, LW Ⅲ, MS, S, S Ⅱ, S Ⅲ, S Ⅳ, SH, SH Ⅱ, SL, SM, SM X, SN, SN Ⅳ, SS, SS Ⅱ, SS Ⅳ, ST, STN, STS, STS Ⅱ, TN, W, W Ⅱ, W Ⅲ, W Ⅳ, W XⅣ, WH, WIS, WIS Ⅱ, WIW Ⅱ, WIW Ⅲ, WN, WS, WS Ⅱ, WS X.
The system was given up in 1958 (coinciding with the termination of the shellac production) and replaced by using the order numbers of the record together with "A" and "B" as side identifiers.
Being a full service provider, the records were usually also pressed in Hannover ("Made in Germany", German copyright text, GEMA). However, exceptions exist and therefore the plant should not be credited if one of the three characteristics is missing.
Since 1971, all injection moulded 7"s from the Polydor family of labels and carrying "Made in Germany" and German copyright text on the centre labels, were pressed in Langenhagen.
Philips and related labels (Vertigo, Fontana, Mercury, etc.):
Since 1963, German releases of Philips and related labels were also pressed by DGG. Since 1967, records were also cut in Hannover. Those lacquer cuts can be identified by a "320" in the matrix (all mastering took place in Werk I in Hannover). The three-digit code system was originally introduced by Philips but was then also applied to Deutsche Grammophon cuts.
History of the plant:
1945: "Werk I" (Podbielskistrasse, Hanover) starts operations on a small scale basis (10 presses). Reconstructed and fully operational again by 1946.
1951: Introduction of vinyl 33-rpm LPs.
1953: First vinyl 45-rpm singles pressed.
1958: First Stereo LP record produced. The production of shellac discs is abandoned.
1959: "Werk II" opened at Klusriede in Langenhagen.
1963: Pressing for Philips Germany begins.
1965: Start of cassette manufacturing.
1971: Start of manufacturing injection moulded 7"s in Werk II.
1973: All competition neutral functions (a.o. manufacturing, storage, accounting) of DGG and Philips are centralised into Phonodisc, hence the plants are merged into Phonodisc GmbH.