Blue Amberol Factoid

By Ron Dethlefson

Purple Line

Here's a little tidbit that's kinda obscure, but kinda fun:

Edison Blue Amberol cylinder records contain coded information, right on them, on which recording "take" and which mold run the record came from. Here's the trick:

Etched into the beveled rim of each Blue Amberol, you'll find the artist and song title, and the abbreviation "Pat'd." Right after "Pat'd" is a dot, or two, or more, and after the dot(s) is a very small numeral. The dot isn't a period for the abbreviation - the number of dots indicate which studio take was used as the master recording. And the numeral is the mold number used to make the particular record you're holding in your hand - the higher the number, the more popular the tune.

Unfortunately, one element has not yet been discovered: How many records were typically made from each mold. This would obviously enable us to determine production figures for individual records.

A neat thing that this trick lets us do is see the differences between takes. A few very popular records wore out the masters, forcing alternate takes to be issued. If you're lucky, you may find "doubles" of a tune, with different versions.

This factoid courtesy of that esteemed Professor of Edisonia, Ron Dethlefson.

- Peter Fraser
Purple Line

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