American Record Company
Late 1900s To Early Teens

Purple Line

ARC: This image is a departure from my standard WAMS Label .gif, in that is grey scale instead of color, as the original was, and is presented as a rectangular image. The record was pressed on one side in a bluish shellac, with this exotic illustration on the label in full color. The scan does not do the original justice, but gives you an idea what it looked like. I kept the "Music Hath Charms" cut line, but edited out the rest of the label, and rescaled it. I suppose another cut line could have been "His Conquerors' Voice," being that this disk was pressed only twenty some years after the Wounded Knee Massacre.

The song was listed as "The Chirpers" by Belmont and Orchestra. The cut starts out with a guy introducing "The Chirpers," then the music plays, standard band fare from this era, interspersed with bird chirping! Not really a bad tune either. The disk number is 031230.

This was a product of the American Record Co, of Springfield, Mass. (no relation to the much later American Record Corporation, which eventually controlled Brunswick, Columbia, and a rash of dime-store brands). Ellsworth A. Hawthorne & Horace Sheble were former Edison dealers who were blacklisted by Edison before 1900. John Hawthorne was the brother of Frederick M. Prescott, who was involved in creation of the Odeon Company in Europe. The company began operations in 1904, producing excellent-quality discs in violation of the basic Berliner and Jones patents on lateral disc recording. The company produced 7", 10", and 10-3/4" pressings at various times and even dabbled in double-sided pressings.

Much of its business came from supplying department-store and mail-order labels. The company suspended operations in 1907 after losing a patent infringment suit brought by Columbia, and some of their masters were shipped to England, where they were re-pressed an re-issued under the American Odeon Record label. The labels are virtually identical to the American version, except that a small Odeon trademark was added (the Indian remained intact). Hawthorne & Sheble remained in business, producing Star records and phonographs (no relation to the later Starr Piano Co. products) in violation of patents until their business was taken over by Columbia, around 1909. Prescott tried unsuccesffuly to launch his own double-sided Champion Two-For-One label in 1908.

Some of the client labels that American supplied included Busy Bee, Kalamazoo, and Peerless. In Europe, the records were reissued under the Leader and Pelican labels, among others. The blue pressing material was called "Empedite" and was supposedly superior to ordinary shellac. In reality, it appears to be a normal shellac-based compound simply dyed blue instead of black, and it wore just as quickly (if not more so) than regular black pressings. The last pressing under this label were in ordinary black shellac and show New York, rather than Springfield as their location.

The above information was provided by Allan Sutton, author of "Directory of American Disc Record Brands & Manufacturers, 1891-1943." I have NEVER seen any of these records before, until I was in a local antique store and got this one for the outrageous price of $1.00! (The same store had some late forties red-label Columbia Frank Sinatra disks priced at $10 each. Go figure.)

Purple Line

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