Norwegian shellac labelography: Columbia

Background

In late 1934, it was decided for the first time to start pressing Columbia records intended for the Norwegian market in Norway. Previously such records had been pressed in England, but steadily increasing import tariffs on "luxury" items such as records meant this was no longer economically viable.

This article seeks to detail the various label design changes on such Norwegian Columbia pressings, from the start in 1934 through to the end of the shellac era in Norway in 1958. Throughout, examples from the GN catalog number series will be used, as it was by far the most numerous, but these designs hold true for Norwegian Columbia pressings with other catalog number prefixes as well. The only exception being the note about light vs dark green colour when it comes to the LN/LNX series of records, which were invariably blue rather than green.

When it comes to release dates for when the various releases in the GN series was originally released, and thus approximate years for the changes in designs, the book "Norsk grammofonplatehistorie 3: Columbias plateutgivelser 1934-1958" by Vidar Vanberg has been used as source.

Design 1

1a

Example release

Distinguishing elements:

  • Text under the Columbia logo spanning two lines, in regular sentence case, which reads: "Denne plate må bare anvendes til privatbruk, ikke til offentlig fremföring, kringkasting etc."
  • "Magic Notes" in title case and relatively large font.
  • "Varemerke" in all caps and relatively large font.
  • Catalog number in a large and wide font.
  • Light green label colour.

This first design was used from the start in 1934 to 1938. Vanberg notes "to approximately GN 550"; the highest number in the database with this design is at present GN 546.

1b

Example release

Same as 1a, but with a dark green label colour.

Used until approximately late 1939 or early 1940. Highest number in the database at present is GN 724.

1c

Example release

Same as 1b, but with catalog number now in a different and slightly smaller font

Used until approximately 1947. Highest number in the database at present is GN 1033 (this one is giving me a bit of a headache, because the highest number before that is GN 852, then there is a large gap of several records which have the next design, and then suddenly two records, GN 1023 and 1033, which have the old design again. In fact 1023 is a "transition" pressing with the old design on one side and the new on the other. It is possible (maybe even likely) that the "actual" change in design is closer to the GN 852 release, in which case the year is 1945).

Design 2

Example release

Distinguishing elements:

  • Text under the Columbia logo spanning three lines, in all caps, which reads: "Selges til privat bruk. Utleie, utlån i erhvervsøyemed, offentlig framføring som ved kringkasting, høyttaleranlegg, lydfilminnspilling m. v. uten fabrikantens samtykke er forbudt"
  • "Magic Notes" in all caps and a smaller font than before.
  • "Varemerke" still in all caps, but a smaller font than before.
  • Catalog number in same font as 1c.
  • Dark green label colour as in 1b and 1c.

Used until approximately late 1948 or early 1949. Highest number in the database at present is GN 1062.

Design 3

3a

Example release

Distinguishing elements:

  • New text under the Columbia logo, still spanning three lines and still in all caps, but now reads: "Alle rettigheter forbeholdes platetilvirkeren resp. eieren av det innspilte verket. Ettergjøring, offentlig framføring, kringkasting m. v. av denne plate forbudt uten samtykke."
  • Otherwise identical to Design 2.

Used until approximately mid-1949. Highest number in the database at present is GN 1085.

3b

Example release

Same as 3a, but catalog number now in a different, narrower font.

Used until approximately mid-1954. Vanberg notes "to approximately 1480"; highest number in the database at present is GN 1483. This is by far the most commonly found variant of all the variants.

3c

Example release

Same as 3b, but we are now back to a light green label colour. Please note that due to age and quality (or lack thereof) of the printing on some of these labels, expect to see a lot of nuance variation/discolouration. For a particularly badly discoloured release, see this example which appear almost turqoise in colour. It is still, I believe, meant to be (and probably originally was) the same light green colour as the example image above.

Used until approximately mid-1955. Highest number in the database at present is GN 1543.

3d

Example release

Same as 3c, but with an added "Made in Norway" (in all caps) to the left of the spindle hole, above the matrix number.

Used until approximately late 1956. Vanberg notes "to approximately 1590"; highest number in the database at present is GN 1591.

Design 4

4a

Example release

Completely new label design, with new logo, etc. The rights text is now moved to the rim of the label and is no longer in all caps, but still reads the same as on Design 3. The "Made in Norway" text has been moved to directly under the Columbia logo, but note that on these earliest examples it also remains in the same position as on 3c, so we have it in two places.

4b

Example release (repressing of an earlier release)

Same as 4a, but with the extraneous "Made in Norway" to the left of the spindle hole removed.

Used until the end of the shellac era, in 1958.