Records with their labels are artifacts of a business and are best
understood in that context. Pictures of them make the most sense when
inserted into a detailed history of the company that produced them.
Annotations should include why a change was made from the previous version-
expiring or new patents, price change, tax issue, image change, etc.
A great many labels were designed to harmonize with their paper sleeve
design and often fit into a larger advertising and marketing strategy.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 8:19 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Label picture catalog?
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Label picture catalog?
From: George Brock-Nannestad <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, January 18, 2010 7:11 pm
To: [log in to unmask]
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
> a good friend says "anything worth doing is worth doing badly".
> What he means is "even badly". If we were always waiting for
> the ideal, we would not get off the ground. This means that
> even b/w images of labels will be better than no pictures of labels at
Of course this had been done since the 1950s, from Carl Kendzioria's
"Behind the Cobwebs" columns, Brian Rust's American Record Label Book,
and Les Docks' record price guides.
> That said, like for all non-professional digitization of images,
> scans of labels is a very mixed bag indeed, because the original
> scanner has in most cases not been calibrated, i.e. we do not
> know whether the parameters hue, saturation, and lightness (to
> keep it simple) are correctly represented by the digital codes.
> The minimum that ought to be done is to enclose a scan of
> a colour calibration chart with every batch of label scans.
Over 30 years ago my late friend George Blacker embarked on a 78 label
photography project that he did not live to complete. He had the labels
photographed on 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 professional sheet film with a color
calibration strip on each picture. I'm not sure where his photos are.
His papers went to Bill Bryant, and when Bill died unexpectedly I think
Tim Brooks got most of his papers.
Ironically I first came to the attention of Reiner Lotz when I noted in
my ARSC Journal review of his Labels of the Ragtime Era book that a
large group of the photos were printed off-color. He wrote a letter
thanking me for pointing this out and listing the pages of the faulty
photos, and praising my observation skills because I was the only
reviewer of the book who noticed it. He explained that the proofs were
done while he was in an extended business trip to Asia and wished that
he had been home to force corrections. At the same time I also pointed
out that half the labels on the dust jacket of Brian Rust's label book
were also off-color.
In the 70s I had pioneered in the use of color slides of labels of the
records I played during my ARSC Conference presentations. I knew that
it was nearly impossible to get accurate colors under artificial light,
so my technique was to use Kodachrome outdoor film outdoors at high
noon! It was sometimes very frustrating as the late Spring date of the
conference was approaching and we were in the midst of a
late-Winter/early-Spring spell of weeks of cloudy overcast days! I
would keep a watch out my office window and when I got a sunny noontime
I dashed out to the front lawn of my building at the university with
camera, lenses, blankets, music stands, and records to get the pictures
before the clouds reappeared!!! I think the photos came out pretty
good. I would not compromise with artificial light photos.
Another irony is that this very evening I am awaiting approval from the
new management of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound of
the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center to let me take photos of
the pre-April 1940 illustrated record album set covers on their shelves
for my ARSC presentation this year. No, I'm not asking them to let me
take them outside! I'll use the flash on my digital camera or their
lighting. I don't think that off-color covers will lessen the effect of
my presentation's theses. (Actually, an "off-color" cover might liven
things up. I found a nifty ad in a 1943 journal advertising Party
Records to record dealers using a very eye-catching illustration!! It
sure got my attention. Actually Leah spotted it first and suggested I
take a look.) (Off-list scans upon request.)
> This calibration ought to carry over into digital printing, i.e.
> the printed image is supposed to present the same information as
> the original label. The same goes for the monitors used in the
> processes. Professional photographers and printers obviously
> know how to do this, and that is why you pay quite a lot for this.
I seem to feel that what I see on monitors of label scans are more
accurate than on prints made from them. I think the scanners, cameras,
and monitors are more accurate than computer printers. But I have not
done any scientific examination of these, but could hold up a record
next to the monitor, of course.
Mike Biel [log in to unmask]