|Victor Talking Machine Company|
|Founder||Eldridge R. Johnson|
|Status||Acquired by RCA in 1929, renamed RCA Victor; known since 1968 as RCA Records|
|Genre||Classical, blues, popular, jazz, country, bluegrass, folk|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||Camden, New Jersey|
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American record company and phonograph manufacturer headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. It was best known for using "His Master's Voice" as a logo.
The company was founded by engineer Eldridge R. Johnson, who had been manufacturing gramophones for inventor Emile Berliner, to play his disc records.After a series of legal wranglings between Berliner, Johnson and their former business partners, the two joined to form the Consolidated Talking Machine Co. in order to combine Berliner's patents for the disc record and Gramophone, along with Johnson's patents for improving its performance and fidelity. The Victor Talking Machine Co. was incorporated officially on October 3, 1901 shortly before an agreement with Columbia Records to share their various disc record patents. In 1929, the company was sold to the Radio Corporation of America.
Victor had acquired the Pan-American rights to use the now famous trademark of the fox terrier Nipper quizzically listening to a gramophone when Berliner and Johnson affiliated their fledgling companies. (See also His Master's Voice.) The original painting was an oil on canvas by Francis Barraud in 1898. Barraud's deceased brother, a London photographer, willed him his estate including his DC-powered Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph with a case of cylinders and his dog Nipper. Barraud's original painting depicts Nipper staring intently into the horn of an Edison-Bell while both sit on a polished wooden surface. The horn on the Edison-Bell machine was black and after a failed attempt at selling the painting to a cylinder record supplier of Edison Phonographs in the UK, a friend of Barraud's suggested that the painting could be brightened up (and possibly made more marketable) by substituting one of the brass-belled horns on display in the window at the new gramophone shop on Maiden Lane. The Gramophone Company in London was founded and managed by an American, William Barry Owen. Barraud paid a visit with a photograph of the painting and asked to borrow a horn. Owen gave Barraud an entire gramophone and asked him to paint it into the picture, offering to buy the result. On close inspection, the original painting still shows the contours of the Edison-Bell phonograph beneath the paint of the gramophone.Dozens of copies of "His Master's Voice" were painted by Barraud, several of them commissioned for executives of the Gramophone Company and Victor, though Barraud apparently would paint copies for anybody who paid him for one. The original painting is in the archives of EMI Records (successor to the Gramophone company in the UK), now owned by Universal Music Group.
In 1915, the "His Master's Voice" logo was rendered in immense circular leaded-glass windows in the tower of the Victrola cabinet building at Victor's headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. The building still stands today with replica windows installed during RCA's ownership of the plant in its later years. Today, one of the original windows is located at the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C.
There are different accounts as to how the "Victor" name came about. RCA historian Fred Barnumgives various possible origins of the name in "His Master's Voice" In America, he writes, "One story claims that Johnson considered his first improved Gramophone to be both a scientific and business 'victory.' A second account is that Johnson emerged as the 'Victor' from the lengthy and costly patent litigations involving Berliner and Frank Seaman's Zonophone. A third story is that Johnson's partner, Leon Douglass, derived the word from his wife's name 'Victoria.' Finally, a fourth story is that Johnson took the name from the popular 'Victor' bicycle, which he had admired for its superior engineering. Of these four accounts the first two are the most generally accepted." Perhaps coincidentally, the first use of the Victor title on a letterhead, on March 28, 1901, was only nine weeks after the death of British Queen Victoria.
Before 1925, recording was done by the same purely mechanical, non-electronic "acoustical" method used since the invention of the phonograph nearly fifty years earlier. No microphone was involved and there was no means of electrical amplification. The recording machine was essentially an exposed-horn acoustical record player functioning in reverse. One or more funnel-like metal horns was used to concentrate the energy of the airborne sound waves onto a recording diaphragm, which was a thin glass disc about two inches in diameter held in place by rubber gaskets at its perimeter. The sound-vibrated center of the diaphragm was linked to a cutting stylus that was guided across the surface of a very thick wax disc, engraving a sound-modulated groove into its surface. The wax was too soft to be played back even once without seriously damaging it, although test recordings were sometimes made and sacrificed by playing them back immediately. The wax master disc was sent to a processing plant where it was electroplated to create a negative metal "stamper" used to mould or "press" durable replicas of the recording from heated "biscuits" of a shellac-based compound. Although sound quality was gradually improved by a series of small refinements, the process was inherently insensitive. It could only record sources of sound that were very close to the recording horn or very loud, and even then the high-frequency overtones and sibilants necessary for clear, detailed sound reproduction were too feeble to register above the background noise. Resonances in the recording horns and associated components resulted in a characteristic "horn sound" that immediately identifies an acoustical recording to an experienced modern listener and seemed inseparable from "phonograph music" to contemporary listeners.
From the start, Victor innovated manufacturing processes and soon rose to pre-eminence by recording famous performers. In 1903, it instituted a three-step mother-stamper process to produce more stampers than previously possible. After improving the quality of disc records and players, Johnson began an ambitious project to have the most prestigious singers and musicians of the day record for Victor, with exclusive agreements where possible. Even if these artists demanded high fees or royalty advances which the company could not hope to immediately make up from the sales of their records, Johnson shrewdly knew that he would get his money's worth in the long run in promotion of the Victor brand name. These new celebrity recordings bore red labels, and were marketed as Red Seal records. For many years, Victor Red Seal records were only available single-sided: not until 1923 did Victor begin offering Red Seals in more economical double-sided form. Countless advertisements were published, praising the renowned stars of the opera and concert stages and boasting that they recorded only for Victor. As Johnson intended, the majority of the record-buying public assumed from all this that Victor Records must be superior.
In the company's early years, Victor issued recordings on the Victor, Monarch and De Luxe labels, with the Victor label on 7-inch records, Monarch on 10-inch records and De Luxe on 12-inch records. De Luxe Special 14-inch records were briefly marketed in 1903–1904. In 1905, all labels and sizes were consolidated into the Victor imprint.
The Victor recordings made by world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso between 1904 and 1920 were particularly successful and were often used by retailers to demonstrate Victor phonographs; Caruso's powerful voice and unusual timbre highlighted the best range of audio fidelity of the early audio technology while being minimally affected by its defects. Even people who otherwise never listened to opera often owned a record or two of the great voice of Caruso.
Victor recorded numerous classical musicians, including Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Victor Herbert, Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Sergei Rachmaninoff in recordings at its home studios in Camden, New Jersey and in New York. Rachmaninoff, in particular, became one of the first composer-performers to record extensively; he recorded exclusively for Victor from 1920 to 1942. Arturo Toscanini's long association with Victor also began in 1920, with a series of records conducting members of the orchestra of the La Scala Opera House of Milan. He recorded for the company until his retirement in 1954.
The first jazz and blues records were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company. The Victor Military Band recorded the first recorded blues song, "The Memphis Blues", on July 15, 1914 in Camden, New Jersey.In 1917, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded "Livery Stable Blues", and established jazz as popular music.
The advent of radio as a home entertainment medium in the early 1920s presented Victor and the entire record industry with new challenges. Not only was music becoming available over the air free of charge, but a live broadcast made using a high-quality microphone and heard over a high-quality receiver provided clearer, more "natural" sound than a contemporary record. In 1925, Victor switched from the acoustical or mechanical method of recording to the new microphone-based electrical system developed by Western Electric. Victor called its version of the improved fidelity recording process "Orthophonic", and sold a new line of record players, called "Orthophonic Victrolas", scientifically designed to play these improved records. Victor's first electrical recordings were made and issued in the spring of 1925. However, in order to create sufficient catalogs of them to satisfy anticipated demand, and to allow dealers time to liquidate their stocks of acoustical recordings, Victor and its rival, Columbia, agreed to keep secret from the public, until near the end of 1925, the fact that they were making the new electrical recordings which offered a vast improvement over the ones currently available. Then, with a large advertising campaign, Victor openly announced the new technology and introduced its Orthophonic Victrolas on "Victor Day", November 2, 1925.
Victor's first commercial electrical recording was made at the company's Camden, New Jersey studios on February 26, 1925. A group of eight popular Victor artists, Billy Murray, Frank Banta, Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Frank Croxton, John Meyer, Monroe Silver, and Rudy Wiedoeft gathered to record "A Miniature Concert". Several takes were recorded by the old acoustical process, then additional takes were recorded electrically for test purposes. The electrical recordings turned out well, and Victor issued the results that summer as the two sides of twelve inch 78 rpm record Victor 35753. Victor's first electrical recording to be issued was Victor 19626, a ten-inch disc consisting of two numbers recorded on March 16, 1925 from the University of Pennsylvania's thirty-seventh annual production of the Mask and Wig Club, issued in April, 1925. On March 21, 1925, Victor recorded its first electrical Red Seal disc, twelve inch 6502 by pianist Alfred Cortot, of pieces by Chopin and Schubert.
Victor quickly recorded the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Stokowski in a series at its Camden, New Jersey studios and then in Philadelphia's Academy of Music. Among Stokowski's first electrical recordings were performances of Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns and Marche Slave by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra made a series of recordings for Victor, beginning in 1925, first in Victor's Chicago studios and then in Orchestra Hall. The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alfred Hertz made a few acoustical recordings early in 1925, then switched to electrical recordings in Oakland and San Francisco, California, continuing until 1928. Within a few years, Serge Koussevitzky began a long series of recordings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston's Symphony Hall. Toscanini made his first Victor electrical recordings with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in November, 1929.
The origins of country music as we know it today can be traced to two seminal influences and a remarkable coincidence. Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family are considered the founders of country music and their songs were first captured at an historic recording session in Bristol, Tennessee (also known as the Bristol Sessions) on August 1, 1927, where Ralph Peer was the talent scout and recording engineer for Victor.
In 1926, Johnson sold his controlling (but not holding) interest in the Victor Company to the banking firms of JW Seligman and Speyer & Co., who in turn sold Victor to the Radio Corporation of America in 1929.It then became known briefly as the Radio-Victor Division of the Radio Corporation of America, then the RCA Manufacturing Company, the RCA Victor Division and in 1968, RCA Records. Most record labels continued to bear only the "Victor" name until 1946, when the labels changed to "RCA Victor" and eventually, to simply "RCA" in late 1968, "Victor" becoming the label designation for RCA's popular music releases. (See RCA and RCA Records for later history of the Victor brand name.)
Johnson and many Victor executives became extremely wealthy by the 1920s and in doing so were able to expand Victor's markets outside of the original Camden, N.J., base of operations. Having established a hand-shake agreement with Emile Berliner in forming the Victor Talking Machine Co, Berliner was sent from the United States to manage the remaining holdings of the Gramophone Company (a company in which Victor owned a significant portion in part due to patent pooling agreements, and Victor's success in its first two decades). Eventually, this meant that Victor (in addition to owning studios, offices, and plants in Camden, New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Montreal, Mexico City and South America) also owned controlling interests in the Gramophone Company in England, as well as the Deutsche Gramophone Co. in Europe. Soon, Victor formed the Victor Company of Japan (JVC), founded in 1927. As Radio Corporation of America acquired Victor, the Gramophone Co. in England became EMI giving RCA a controlling interest in JVC, Columbia (UK), and EMI. During World War II, JVC severed its ties to RCA Victor and today remains one of the oldest and most successful Japanese record labels as well as an electronics giant. Meanwhile, RCA sold its remaining shares in EMI during this time. Today the "His Master's Voice" trademark in music is split amongst several companies including JVC (in Japan), HMV (in the UK), and RCA (in the US).
Victor kept meticulous written records of all of its recordings. The files cover the period 1903 to 1958 (thus including the RCA Victor era, as well as the Victor Talking Machine Co. era). These written records are among the most extensive and important sources of available primary discographic information in the world. There were three main categories of files: a daily log of recordings for each day, a file maintained for each important Victor artist, and a 4"×6" index card file kept in catalog number order.
There are about 15,000 daily log pages, each titled "Recording Book", that are numbered chronologically. Each recording was assigned a "matrix number" to identify the recording. When issued, the recording had a "catalog number", almost always different from the matrix number, on the record label.
As of 2010, the remaining pages available at the Victor archives go only up to April 22, 1935. Victor's original pages after this date were apparently discarded or lost at some point. However, Victor's ties with EMI in England, and at Hayes, Hillingdon, in London, EMI has more recent pages. These pages were sent at the time they were first written and therefore do not have the annotations made afterwards.
Most, but not all, daily log information for recordings made for synchronization with motion pictures were kept separately, and the separate synchronization recording information is missing from the Victor archives.
Victor also issued annual catalogs of all available recordings with monthly supplements announcing the release of new and forthcoming records issued throughout the year. These publications were carefully prepared and were lavishly illustrated with many photographs and advertisements of popular Victor recording artists.
The Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings (EDVR) is a continuation of a project of Ted Fagan and William Moran to make a complete discography of all Victor recordings.The Victor archive files are a major source of information for this project.
In 2011, the Library of Congress and Victor catalog owner Sony Music Entertainment launched the National Jukebox offering streaming audio of more than 10,000 pre-1925 recorded works for listening by the general public; many of these recordings have not been widely available for over 100 years.
In September 1906, Victor introduced a new line of talking machines with the turntable and amplifying horn tucked away inside a wooden cabinet, the horn being completely invisible. This was not done for reasons of audio fidelity, but for visual aesthetics. The intention was to produce a phonograph that looked less like a piece of machinery and more like a piece of furniture. These internal horn machines, trademarked with the name Victrola, were first marketed to the public in September of that year and were an immediate hit. Soon an extensive line of Victrolas was available, ranging from small tabletop models selling for $15, through many sizes and designs of cabinets intended to go with the decor of middle-class homes in the $100 to $250 range, up to $600 Chippendale and Queen Anne-style cabinets of fine wood with gold trim designed to look at home in elegant mansions. Victrolas became by far the most popular type of home phonograph, and sold in great numbers until the end of the 1920s. RCA Victor continued to market record players under the Victrola name until the late 1960s.
Other Victor products included the Electrola (a phonograph with an electric motor), Radiola (a radio often paired with a phonograph which was a joint venture with RCA prior to their acquisition of the company), and musical instruments (including the first electronic instrument, the theremin).
His Master's Voice (HMV) was the unofficial name of a major British record label created in 1901 by The Gramophone Co. Ltd. The phrase was first coined in the late 1890s as the title of a painting depicting a terrier-mix dog named Nipper listening to a wind-up disc gramophone. In the original 1898 painting, the dog is listening to a cylinder phonograph. It was a famous trademark and logo of the RCA Victor record label.
Nipper was a dog from Bristol, England, who served as the model for an 1898 painting by Francis Barraud titled His Master's Voice. This image was the basis for one of the world's best known trademarks, the famous dog-and-gramophone that was used by several record companies and their associated company brands, including Berliner Gramophone and its various affiliates and successors, including Berliner's German subsidiary Deutsche Grammophon; Berliner's American successor the Victor Talking Machine Co. ; Zonophone; Berliner's British affiliate the Gramophone Co. Ltd. and its successors EMI and HMV Retail Ltd.; the Gramophone Co.'s German subsidiary Electrola; Zonophone; and onetime Victor subsidiary the Japan Victor Company (JVC).
A phonograph disc record, or simply a phonograph record, gramophone record, disc record or record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac, with earlier records having a fine abrasive filler mixed in. Starting in the 1940s polyvinyl chloride became common, hence the name "vinyl". In the mid-2000s, gradually, records made of any material began to be called vinyl disc records, also known as vinyl records or vinyl for short.
RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music's four flagship labels, alongside RCA's former long-time rival Columbia Records; also Arista Records, and Epic Records. The label has released multiple genres of music, including pop, classical, rock, hip hop, afrobeat, electronic, R&B, blues, jazz, and country. Its name is derived from the initials of its defunct parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It was fully acquired by Bertelsmann in 1986, making it a part of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). RCA Records became a part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment after Sony and BMG merged in 2004; it was acquired by the former in 2008, after the dissolution of Sony BMG and the restructuring of Sony Music. It is the second-oldest record label in American history, after sister label Columbia Records.
Berliner Gramophone – its discs identified with an etched-in "E. Berliner's Gramophone" as the logo – was the first disc record label in the world. Its records were played on Emile Berliner's invention, the Gramophone, which competed with the wax cylinder–playing phonographs that were more common in the 1890s.
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical music record label that was the precursor of the corporation PolyGram. Headquartered in Berlin Friedrichshain, it is now part of Universal Music Group (UMG) since its merger with the UMG family of labels in 1999. It is the oldest surviving established record company.
Columbia Graphophone Co. Ltd. was one of the earliest gramophone companies in the United Kingdom.
Zonophone was a record label founded in 1899 in Camden, New Jersey, by Frank Seaman. The Zonophone name was not that of the company but was applied to records and machines sold by Seaman's Universal Talking Machine Company from 1899–1903. The name was subsequently acquired by Columbia Records, the Victor Talking Machine Company, and finally the Gramophone Company/EMI Records. It has been used for a number of record publishing labels by these companies.
The Gramophone Company Limited , based in the United Kingdom and founded on behalf of Emil Berliner, was one of the early recording companies, the parent organisation for the His Master's Voice (HMV) label, and the European affiliate of the American Victor Talking Machine Company. Although the company merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1931 to form Electric and Musical Industries Limited (EMI), its name "The Gramophone Company Limited" continued in the UK into the 1970s.
The Edison Diamond Disc Record is a type of phonograph record marketed by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. on their Edison Record label from 1912 to 1929. They were named Diamond Discs because the matching Edison Disc Phonograph was fitted with a permanent conical diamond stylus for playing them. Diamond Discs were incompatible with lateral-groove disc record players, e.g. the Victor Victrola, the disposable steel needles of which would damage them while extracting hardly any sound. Uniquely, they are just under 1⁄4 in thick.
Frederick William Gaisberg was an American musician, recording engineer and one of the earliest classical music producers for the gramophone. He himself did not use the term 'producer', and was not an impresario like his protégé Walter Legge of EMI or an innovator like John Culshaw of Decca. Gaisberg concentrated on talent-scouting and persuading performers to make recordings for the newly invented Gramophone.
Angel Records was a record label founded by EMI in 1953. It specialised in classical music, but included an occasional operetta or Broadway score. The Angel mark was used by EMI, its predecessors, and affiliated companies from 1898. The label has been inactive since 2006, wnen it dissolved and reassigned its classical artists and catalogues to its parent label EMI Classics and merged its musical theatre artists and catalogues into Capitol Records. EMI Classics was sold to the Warner Music Group in 2013.
Eldridge Reeves Johnson was an American businessman and engineer who founded the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901 and built it into the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. Victor was the corporate predecessor of RCA Records.
Francis James Barraud was an English painter – the son of portrait painter Henry Barraud. After one of his works popularized the then-new field of sound recording, he became best known as a commercial illustrator.
RCA Victrola was a budget record label introduced by RCA Victor in the early 1960s to reissue classical recordings originally released on the RCA Victor "Red Seal" label. The name "Victrola" came from the early console phonographs first marketed by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1906. Many of RCA Victrola's reissues included recordings from the historic RCA Victor "Living Stereo" series first released in 1958, using triple channel stereophonic tapes from as early as 1954. There were also some first stereo releases of recordings that had previously been available only in monaural versions. For several years, Victrola released both stereophonic and monaural versions of many albums.
Orlando R. Marsh was an electrical engineer raised in Wilmette, Illinois. In early 1920s Chicago, Illinois he pioneered electrical recording of phonograph discs with microphones when acoustic recording with horns was commonplace. His firm Marsh Laboratories, Inc., founded in 1922, at one time was located on the seventh floor of the Lyon & Healy Building near the corner of Wabash and Jackson in Chicago. The Marsh firm no longer exists but the building still stands and is part of DePaul University.(1)
The Victor Orthophonic Victrola, first demonstrated publicly in 1925, was the first consumer phonograph designed specifically to play electrically recorded phonograph records. The combination was recognized instantly as a major step forward in sound reproduction.
The Nipper Building is a colloquial name for The Victor condominiums, and formerly, Building 17, RCA Victor Company, Camden Plant. The structure is a historical building located in Cooper Grant neighborhood of Camden, Camden County, New Jersey, United States. Since 1901, Camden was the headquarters of the Victor Talking Machine Company, later RCA Victor. Originally a Victrola cabinet factory, the building was converted into luxury apartments and retail space in 2004.
RCA Red Seal is a classical music label whose origin dates to 1902 and is currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment.
The Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR) is a database of master recordings made by American record companies during the 78rpm era. The DAHR provides these original recordings, free of charge, via audio streaming, along with access to the production catalogs of those same companies. DAHR is part of the American Discography Project (ADP), and is funded and operated in partnership by the University of California, Santa Barbara, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Packard Humanities Institute.
jw seligman victor talking machines.
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