The GRAMOPHONE COMPANY, based in the United Kingdom, was one of the
early recording companies , was the parent organisation for the famous
"His Master's Voice" (HMV ) label, and was a subsidiary of 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, appearing on sleeves and labels of
records (such as _
The Dark Side of the Moon _ by
Pink Floyd , vinyl
copies of which bear the copyright notice "©1973 The Gramophone
* 1 History
* 1.1 First recordings
* 1.2 Lawsuit impact
* 1.3 Hidden discs
* 1.4 Logo change
* 1.5 Formation of
* 2 See also
* 3 References
* 4 External links
Early Gramophone label with original trademark
Gramophone Company was founded in 1898 by William Barry Owen and
Trevor Williams in London, England. Owen was acting as agent for Emile
Berliner , inventor of the gramophone record , whilst Williams
provided the finances. Most of the company's early discs were made in
Hanover, Germany at a plant operated by members of Berliner's family,
though it had operations around the world.
Fred Gaisberg moved from the U.S. to London to set up the
first disc recording studio in Europe; it was situated in Maiden Lane.
Among early artists he recorded was the Syria Lamont , an Australian
soprano whose single "Coming through the Rye" was one of the first
ever issued. In December 1900, Owen gained the manufacturing rights
for the Lambert Typewriter Company , and the
Gramophone Company was
for a few years renamed the Gramophone "> in part due to a
patent-pooling handshake agreement with Columbia. The agreement
allowed Columbia to produce flat records themselves, which they began
doing in 1901; Columbia's records had previously been cylinders .
Contrary to some sources, the
Victor Talking Machine Company was
never a branch or subsidiary of Gramophone, as Johnson's manufactory,
which had been making talking machines for Berliner, was his own
company with many mechanical patents that he owned, which patents were
valuable in the agreement with Columbia.
Thus, Victor and Columbia began making flat records in the U.S., with
UK Gramophone and others continuing to do so outside the U.S. This
left Edison the only major player in the making of cylinders; Columbia
still made a limited number for a few years.
Emile Berliner went out
of the business. All he had left were the masters of his earlier
records. These he took to Canada and reformed his Berliner label in
Montreal , where he used the "His Master's Voice" trademark. Edison
would soon join the flat record market with his diamond discs and
A public relations effort of 1907 involved Alfred Clark, a New York
representative of the company. Clark persuaded the
Paris Opera to seal
and lock 24 records in two iron and lead containers in a basement
storage room. These were to be opened in 100 years. In 1912, 24 more
records were added in two additional containers, along with a wind-up
gramophone and a supply of needles to insure the records could be
played when unsealed.
In 1989, it was discovered that one of the 1912 containers had been
opened and emptied and the gramophone stolen. The three remaining
containers were moved to the French National Library . When opened in
December 2007, some of the records were broken, but copies of the
missing and broken records were located in the French National
EMI digitized the collection and released it on three compact
discs in February 2009 as _Les Urnes de l'Opera_. Early
Gramophone label with HMV trademark
In February 1909, the company introduced new labels featuring the
famous trademark known as "His Master's Voice", generally referred to
as HMV, to distinguish them from earlier labels which featured an
outline of the Recording Angel trademark. The latter had been designed
by Theodore Birnbaum , an executive of the
Gramophone Company pressing
plant in Hanover, Germany. While the general public came to refer to
the records and company as "His Master's Voice" or "HMV" because of
the prominence of the phrase on the record labels, The Gramophone
Company was never officially known as the HMV or His Master's Voice
Company. The painting "His Master's Voice" was made in the 1890s with
Nipper listening to an Edison cylinder phonograph . In 1899,
Owen bought the painting from Francis Barraud, the artist, and asked
him to paint out the Edison machine and substitute a Gramophone, which
he did. In 1900,
Emile Berliner acquired the US rights to the painting
and it became the trademark of the
Victor Talking Machine Company in
1901. UK rights to the logo were reserved by Gramophone.
dog lived from 1884 to 1895 and is honored in England with a
celebrated grave marker.
FORMATION OF EMI
In March 1931 Gramophone merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company
to form Electric and Musical Industries Ltd (EMI). The "Gramophone
Company, Ltd." name, however, continued to be used for many decades,
especially for copyright notices on records.
Gramophone Company of
India was formed in 1946. The
Gramophone Company Ltd legal entity was
EMI Records Ltd in 1973.
List of record labels
* His Master\'s Voice
List of phonograph manufacturers
Nipper the dog, and logo variations
Addis v Gramophone Co Ltd _ UKHL 1
* ^ Rye, Howard (2002). Kernfeld, Barry, ed. _The New Grove
Dictionary of Jazz_. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc.
p. 80. ISBN 1-56159-284-6 .
* ^ Read, Oliver; Welch, Walter L. (1976). _From Tinfoil to Stereo_
(2 ed.). Indianapolis, Indiana: Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc. p. 143.
ISBN 0-672-21206-4 .
* John R. Bennett: _A catalogue of vocal recordings from the English
catalogues of the
Gramophone Company 1898–1899, the Gramophone
Company Limited 1899 - 1900, the Gramophone a complete numerical
catalogue of Italian gramophone recordings made from 1898 to 1929 in
Italy and elsewhere by the
Gramophone Company Ltd._. New York; NY ,
Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-26498-8
* Alan Kelly: _His master's voice, the French catalogue; a complete
numerical catalogue of French gramophone recordings made from 1898 to
1929 in France