While re-reading the introduction to the excellent American Record Labels
and Companies: An encyclopedia by Allan Sutton & Kurt Nauck, I noticed
something that I had glossed over previously: that a few "record companies"
had created new plates by electro-plating commercially available shellac
discs. The book indicts mainly the Universal Talking Machine Company and
Winant Van Zant Pierce Bradley's Continental Record Company, and the
American Vitaphone Company in this practice. It seems to me that these are
the first bootlegs, but it leads me to ask several questions:
1) Was there an earlier practice that illegitimately reproduced music
2) How long did this particular practice continue? I haven't found any
mention of this practice after the Continental Record Company, which seems
to have folded shortly after 1909.
3) Has anyone archived these primitive bootlegs? A few appear in the
invaluable American Record Label Image Encyclopedia CD-ROM that accompanies
I think a treatment of the development of the bootleg would be interesting
and valuable, or if one exists I'd like to read it.