That's great, Matthew. That looks like very useful info. Maybe there is
some way Jesse could compare what he has (the sound file) to the
Jackson/Lomax tapes, if they have ever been made available in some format,
from which he could make a definite conclusion.
Jesse, the paper labels were always glued on, in my experience, and they
often do come off (bits of the one on your disc are still there). I don't
know if the paper labels had glue already affixed that just needing
wetting, but I have always assumed so. We find acetate discs with many
kinds of paper labels on them, many bearing logos (just look up
"transcription disc" on Ebay), which is what I was referring to. The
Presto logo here is embossed into the blank disc that was used. If what
Matthew is suggesting were correct, the disc copy could have been made at
any point in time after the original recording was made, so dating the
blank itself would not be very useful. If you knew that the disc itself
was a live recording, that would be different, but as Matt suggests, it may
be a copy of the original recording.
That is a common disappointment with instantaneous records, when you think
you have found something really important, only to discover that what you
have is a copy of a recording that is already "out there" and sometimes
even a commercial recording. You often can't tell that until you have
dubbed the record and compared it. I recently went thru exactly that
exercise myself, finding that the rare looking two-sided acetate was just a
copy of readily available commercial records. But like I always say, if
you don't look, you don't find.
Even if your disc is a copy, that does not mean it is worthless. I have
found an instance where the original source had deteriorated to the extent
that an old copy of it made way back there was a good thing to have.
Back to your label for a minute, the small clues that can be got from what
is left there are two typed word fragments, the first being "dier" and the
second being "ulation" or "olation." These match two of the song titles,
"Christian Soldier" and "The Church's Desolation," but I am sure you have
already figured that out, and this doesn't help.
Good luck with this.
On Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 10:50 AM, Barton, Matthew <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello Jesse,
> This disc may have been copied from the field recordings of Sacred Harp
> Singers made by George Pullen Jackson and Alan Lomax in the summer of 1942
> in Birmingham, AL. By this time, the Library of Congress had the means to
> make disc copies of original field recordings for artists and the public.
> Given that this is an aluminum based-disc, the copy may have been made
> after the war, or the Library's sound lab might still have had a supply of
> aluminum-based lacquers. I checked, and all four of the titles you provided
> were recorded by Jackson and Lomax in Birmingham. One of them, Christian
> Solider, was recorded twice with different leaders. As you probably know,
> there was an album release of 18 songs from these sessions, but the titles
> you provided are not on it.
> As you point out, these were popular hymns and all might have been sung at
> any given Sacred Harp gathering, but I thought I'd put this theory forward.
> I hope this helps.
> Matthew Barton
> Library of Congress
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jesse P. Karlsberg
> Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10:01 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Dating a Presto Recording Corp. Transcription Disc
> Dear Tom, Franz, John, Steve, and others,
> Thanks to all for sharing insights and resources in response to my
> question yesterday about dating a Presto transcription disc label. To add a
> bit more information:
> 1. From examining the disc my impression was that the paper label was
> home-made and pasted over the Presto logo and has since largely been torn
> off. The Presto logo underneath is blue-green and appears to be stamped or
> printed directly on the acetate.
> Franz: is that what you're referring to when you mention a "green stamped
> Presto," and what leads you to associate such a label with the late 1930s?
> John: what is a "logo label"? In this case it doesn't look like the label
> was stuck onto the disc, but rather, that it was printed directly onto the
> acetate if that's possible.
> 2. As John speculates, the disc is aluminum and is covered by acetate or
> some similar substance. Although the disc is indeed delaminating we
> fortunately were able to have it digitized by Michael Graves of Osiris
> Studio before any serious damage was done to playability.
> 3. The material on the recording itself doesn't help us date the item. The
> disc contains four songs sung by a medium-sized group of Sacred Harp
> singers. The sound is more consistent with a live singing convention than
> with a studio setting. For those interested, the songs are "Raymond" (p.
> 441 in The Sacred Harp) and "Cowper" (p. 168) on side A and "The Church's
> Desolation" (p. 89) and "Christian Soldier" (p. 57) on side B. All are
> relatively common songs that have been in active use over the entire period
> when the disc could have been recorded. The person from whom the Sacred
> Harp Museum purchased the disc believed that the recording had been made
> some time in the 1940s in East Central Alabama but had no specific
> What I am hoping is that others may have encountered identically designed
> stamped Presto labels. I recognize that the disc might have sat around for
> a while before it was used, but am hopeful that if any other such discs
> have been dated it might at least help us approximate the earliest the
> recording could have been made, and may offer other clues as well.
> One last question: in the 1940 Presto catalog linked from the Preservation
> Sound blog, the final page in the second file lists various discs for sale.
> content/uploads/2011/09/Presto_1940_cat_2.pdf) All but one, the "monogram"
> disc, mention a colored seal, yet the monogram disc has a "composition
> base." Is the stamped label on the disc in question a "monogram"? What is a
> composition base?
> Does anyone have access to earlier or later Presto Recording Corp.
> catalogs with different listings of available Presto discs?
> Thanks again for all your help. I appreciate it.