Columbia 7-Inch Records

In 1900, Emile Berliner's Gramophone Company was shut down in the U.S. for breach of contract with its sales agent, Frank Seaman. Eldridge R. Johnson manufactured the phonographs for the company but Berliner agreed to consider marketing a cheaper yet reliable phonograph should Seaman successfully develop one. Seaman did but the model wasn't accepted, likely due in part to the close friendship between the other two. Johnson was also the more experienced machinist. Retooling costs may have been another reason. Seaman went ahead and manufactured it himself under the name "Zonophone" which prompted them to sue him for patent and contract violations. He counter-sued and brought The American Graphophone Company (Columbia) on as a fellow litigant. It was successfully argued that royalties he would pay to Columbia for its floating (across the record) stylus patent protected him from any claims by Berliner.

After the ruling, Columbia signed a licensing agreement with Seaman's National Gramophone Corporation (Zon-O-Phone) to market the latter's products as a quick way to enter the disc scene. In 1901, Columbia introduced its own 80 RPM 7-inch and 10-inch discs under the "Climax" name until further legalities could be settled. They were manufactured by a subsidiary, the Globe Record Company, which was then bought out by Victor when Columbia fell behind financially. Victor then sold it back in 1903 with an agreement that the two cross-license their patents. From then on, Columbia could market phonographs and discs under its own name instead of subsidiaries.

Columbia's single-sided discs sported a more generic-looking label than what Victor had. They also lagged behind in sound quality and in A&R. Somewhat the child of Berliner, Victor had the head start on disc technology and its G&T affiliate in Europe quickly made talent important to the company as well. Yet, many of the standard "phonograph" artists like Billy Murray and Cal Stewart recorded with great regularity on Columbia like they did Edison and Victor. Along with a cylinder business to maintain, Columbia spent most of the decade catching up. Pardon the pun but they didn't even record-keep too well. Exact recording dates in the first decade are usually lost to time and other session information is sometimes elusive too. Popular titles also had to be re-recorded during the first two years since only one stamper, lasting about 1,000 copies, could be made from a wax master, which was destroyed in the process. In 1902, a new process allowed multiple stampers to be created from one master.

Columbia did innovate in some areas though. Their early discs actually had great bass response, which oddly decreased a bit as time went on. Columbia introduced a thin, raised ring around the edge and another around the label to keep the needle from sliding off. This also protected the label and grooves in stacking. Oddly, this innovation also disappeared from the records in the next decade. 7-inch discs were a carry-over from the Berliner/Zonophone days and were quickly overshadowed by the new 10-inch format introduced by Victor and Columbia during the first year of this new era (1901). 7-inchers could hold about a minute-and-a-half to two minutes of sound whereas 10-inchers could run up to three minutes and even seconds more. That was in better keeping with popular songs and classical works wouldn't need as much abbreviating. However, both companies issued many titles in both 7 and 10-inch formats. 12-inch records joined them a few years later and became popular too. The larger discs also produced louder volume. Columbia therefore recorded their last 7-inch discs in 1905 and Victor did the same in 1906.

Encoded Speed: 192 Kbps

Schultz's Trip to Chicago
Harry Spencer
Columbia 27
Matrix# 27, Take ?
ca. 1901-October 1905
New York, New York

Anvil Chorus from "Il Trovatore" (Blank)
Columbia Band
Columbia 84
Matrix# 84-3D, Take 3
ca. 1901-1904
New York, New York

Moskowski Serenade (Blank)
Columbia Band
Columbia 184
Matrix# 184-1D, Take 1
ca. 1901
New York, New York

Sextette from "Lucia" (Blank)
Columbia Band
Columbia 496
Matrix# 496-2B, Take 2
ca. 1901-October 1905
New York, New York

It's a Lovely Day For a Walk
Corinne Morgan and Frank C. Stanley
Columbia 1461
Matrix# 1461-3C, Take 3
ca. 1903-October 1905
New York, New York

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