This is really great information to have in one place.
The guide to the RCA matrix numbers and production dates confirms my
suspicions about a series of records that I have on the Sperry label
that I thought had been produced starting around 1950 from tapes that I
believe had come from the Radio Station in Skopje Macedonia (e.g. Martix
I'm quite new to the ARSCLIST (2 or 3 months), and last summer attended
my first ARSC meeting in DC (I'm retired and live outside just north of
Washignton, DC) and I really enjoyed the ARSC conference. My interests
are mainly in traditional music from the Balkans, and of late with music
recorded before the mid 1940s in Bulgaria.
I'm working on a collection of 78 rpm records on mostly Bulgarian Labels
for which I'd love to get recording dates and had thought of writing to
this list for assistance. I've been updating my desktop "Discography"
and have a somewhat older version of it on-line in the event that anyone
is interested in it. I can also easily produce a list of records by
label, matrix number, and catalog number if anyone would be interested
in helping with dating these. My comments about tunes or or albums or ,
of course, ... quite subjective
The discography with the label scans is large (79.35 MB) at:
http://www.larryweiner.com/music/Bulgarian78 RPM Records -
(Discography6) as of 009-10-29 (Deskpdf Standard).pdf
Your thoughts are appreciated,
Michael Biel wrote:
> David Lennick provided the 78-L and me with the previous postings I and
> others had made of the RCA Prefix Code, and I now provide it for
> ARSC-List. Enjoy! Oh, and by the way, it was V, not W, which was
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
> >From way back in 2001, here's J. E. Knox's quickie version of
> the 50s and 60s system for prefixes:
> E0 through E4 = 1950-54 [that's E-zero, of course, not E-OH]
> F = 1955
> G = 1956
> H = 1957
> J = 1958 ('I' not used)
> K = 1959
> L = 1960
> M = 1961
> N = 1962
> P = 1963 ('O' not used)
> R = 1964 ('Q' not used)
> S = 1965
> T = 1966
> U = 1967
> W = 1968 ('V' not used)
> X = 1969
> Z = 1970
> A = 1971 (letters wrap around here; not to confuse with A = 1920s, which
> actually WAS done in the 1940s on certain reissues!)
> B = 1972
> Somewhere around '73 or so the whole system changes again, whereby the
> number" becomes the catalog number or some such. But it's not on 78s, so
> cares? :-S
> Earlier this week Joe Knox and I got into a discussion on the 78-L about
> the codes in the Victor matrix numbering system. While Joe based his
> listings on observation of many, many records, I have the data sheets
> from RCA in the 1950s that explain the entire system. I will merge some
> of that info into Joe's info. But, my question to Joe had originally
> been about what happened in the 60s when the system was changed again
> because I do not have sheets from RCA about these. Further info will
> be welcome. I would appreciate it if this data not be posted or
> distributed without full credit to me, Dr. Michael Biel [log in to unmask]
> and Joe Knox [log in to unmask] .
> Lines with an extra ">" are from Joe Knox,
> and the majority of the posting is from Dr. Michael Biel.
> Victor's title for the System is "THE GENERAL RECORDINGS SERIAL
> NUMBERING SYSTEM" and is filed under "Standardizing Notice (61)
> 13-200-1" and the date.
>> In 1943, Victor revised its matrix numbering to an encoded form incorporating
>> a date code and label/client information as well as record size.
>> For example, "D3VB-xxxx-y" decodes to
>> D3 = 1943 (D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9, E0 , E1, E2, E3, E4)
>> V = Victor (R = Red Seal Victor)
>> B = 10-inch (A = 7-inch; C = 12-inch; E = 8-inch; M = 16-inch)
>> xxxx = serial number (1-up; no leading zeros until 1949-50)
>> y = take digit (later, a stamper number i.e. -1S)
>> Remasterings of prior material are often given a false extrapolated
>> matrix number, such as "C9VB-" (1939), "B6VB-"(1926)or "A7VB-"(1917).
>> (How a pre-1910 matrix might have handled, I don't know.)
> There is a hand written note on one copy of the June 6, 1952 version of
> the System that shows they would have put a zero for the decade of
> 1900. The note says "Per Sal". Apparently Sal never informed whoever
> typed the sheets, because all the later sheets did not incorporate this
> into the typed listings. They did list an F for the 1960s, but the
> System had been changed before that would have happened.
>> With the introduction of the LP and 45 in 1949-50, a 'W' is added for the
>> 7-inch 45 size (i.e., E1VW-); at first, LPs insert an extra 'L' character as
>> in "E0LVB-" but as of 1952 it becomes "E2VL-" for 10", "E2VP-" for 12". Early
>> 45EPs also use the 'W' size code, but in 1954 it changes to 'H'.
>> The third character (label/client): Mike's note about 'K' is evidenced by
>> issues on the Tennessee, Republic and other labels ("E1KB-", "E1KW-" etc.)
>> 'L' appears on RCA's "X" (vault originals) label; Camden issues have 'D.'
> The full listing is far more extensive. The first sheet I have is
> the one dated June 6, 1952 and superseedes one dated Aug. 7, 1951.
> The third position in the prefix is called "Category."
> R Red Seal
> V Popular
> F Foreign, Recorded in U.S.A.
> X Foreign, not Recorded in U.S.A.
> E Educational
> B Bluebird
> C Custom, Recorded by RCA
> K Custom, Tape Furnished to RCA
> L Red Seal Extended Play
> M Theasaurus
> P Pop. Extended Play
> S Slide Film
> Q Custom, Lacquer Furnished to RCA
> The fourth position is called "Size, Speed & Groove."
> B 10" - 78 rpm - Standard
> C 12" - 78 rpm - Standard
> D 10" - 33 rpm - Standard of Transcription
> E 12" - 33 rpm - Standard of Transcription
> H 16" - 33 rpm - Trans.
> W 7" - 45 rpm - Fine
> L 10" - 33 rpm - Fine
> P 12" - 33 rpm - Fine
> S 6-1/2" - 78 rpm - Std.
> K 6-7/8" - 78 rpm - Std.
> The next typed revision page I have is dated July 23, 1953,
> and supersedes a version dated Feb. 10, 1953 which I am missing.
> In the 3rd position there are two items missing:
> B Bluebird
> L Red Seal Extended Play
> In the 4th position there two additions:
> T 6" - 78 rpm - Standard
> U 7" - 33 1/3 RPM - LP
> The next revision was April 14, 1954 which replaced July 23, 1953.
> In the 3rd position there are several additions/changes
> P Pop. Extended Play
> T Children's Record
> L Label X
> H Groove Records
> D Camden Label
> (Remember that L used to mean Red Seal Extended Play.)
> In the 4th position there was one addition:
> H 7" 45 Extended Play
> On the copy of the sheet I have are a list of changes proposed by Abe
> Meltzer, and some were implimented in a few years, but I will not list
> the proposals because this would confuse things greatly since many were
> never used.
> The next revision was November 29, 1954 which superseded April 14,
> 1954. The only typed change was the addition to the 4th position of a
> mysterious piece:
> A 5" - 78 rpm Special Groove
> (In all probability this is the item that a later list called
> "Special 85 degrees.)
> There also are penciled notations that in the 3rd postion X, L, H, and D
> were cancelled, but that would have occurred at a later date.
> On November 12, 1954 a questionnaire was distributed from the Record
> Division Systems and Procedures in Camden building 2-8 asking "Is
> it __necessary__ in your operation to obtain descriptive information
> from the Record Serial number?" and to check off what "items you deem
> necessary" from this list: Label Designations (RCA, Camden, Custom),
> Description (Pop, Red Seal, Transcription), Year Recorded, Size, Speed,
> Groove Designator, and Other Not Listed.
> Attached to the questionnaire (but missing from my copy) was a proposed
> System which is described as "primarily a memory aid expressed in
> letters, numbers, or combinations." In order to maintain an 8 position
> series they reduced the date code to one letter which would be in the
> first position for 25 years and would then be moved to the fourth
> position for 25 years.
> On February 25, 1955 came the results of the changed system.
>> In 1955, the system is altered. The date code, E4 in 1954, becomes simply F.
>> Date code: F = 1955; G = 1956; H = 1957; J = 1958; K = 1959;
>> L = 1960; M = 1961; N = 1962; P = 1963; R = 1964; S = 1965;
>> T = 1966; U = 1967; W = 1968; X = 1969; Z = 1970;
>> A = 1971; B = 1972; C = 1973
> In the original February 25, 1955 list only the leter "O" wasn't used
> and the list continued thru E for 1979. In reality they changed this
> by 1958 when they skipped "I". In addition to "O" they also skipped
> "Q" which could be mistaken for "O", V and Y which could also be
> mistaken for each other or for U.`What I have not checked is when
> this was actually implemented. Since it is dated Feb 25, 1955 and
> superseded the old system sheet from November 29, 1954, there is a
> possibility that the recordings made in January and February 1955
> were numbered E5.
>> The second character becomes the label/client code;
> The list calls this second position "Label Designation." Joe's list
> is essentially correct, but incomplete. Here's the full list:
> 1 Bluebird
> 2 RCA Victor
> 3 Camden
> 4 "X" label
> 5 Groove
> 6 HMV (automatically recorded out of U.S.A)
> 7 Custom Recorded at RCA
> 8 Custom Re-recorded from clients source material
> 9 Custom-Master Lacquers furnished
>> the third character is musical category (up to 1963);
> The list calls it "Type of Description." Here is where Joe's
> guesses go awry because there are some things that could not
> possibly be guessed, so I'll print the original list.
> P Popular
> R Classical (Red Seal)
> C Children
> W Country-Western
> T International (Recorded in U.S.A.)
> J Blues-Rhythm-Jazz
> E Educational
> U Slidefilm-Universal
> F Slidefilm-Frequency
> O Phonograph
> M Transcription
> N Promotion E Premium
> Z Foreign-(Recorded out of U.S.A.
> S Slidefilm - Manual
>> fourth remains the size/speed until 1963
> Actually called "Size, Speed & Groove. Here again Joe's list is
> almost correct but is incomplete. Here it is in its early 1955 form:
> G 5" - 78 rpm - Special 85 degrees
> T 6" - 78 rpm - Std.
> S 6 1/2" 78 rpm - Std.
> V 7" - 78 rpm - Std.
> B 10" - 78 rpm - Std.
> C 12" - 78 rpm - Std.
> W 7" - 45 rpm - Fine
> H 7" - 45 rpm - Ext. Play
> J 7" - 33.3 rpm - Std.
> K 7" - 33.3 rpm - Univ.
> U 7" - 33.3 rpm - Fine
> D 10" - 33.3 rpm - Std. or Trans.
> F 10" - 33.3 rpm - Univ.
> L 10" - 33.3 rpm - fine
> E 12" - 33.3 rpm - Std. or Trans.
> P 12" - 33.3 rpm - Fine
> R 12" - 33.3 rpm - Univ.
> M 16" - 33.3 rpm - Std. or Trans.
> N 16" - 33.3 rpm - Univ.
> X Tape - 7 1/2"/sec. single track
> Note that they made a distinction between the "Standard" or
> "Transcription" groove which had to be played with a wide stylus,
> and the sharp V-shaped "Universal" groove which could be played
> with either a wide or microgroove stylus. Apparently Victor never
> used this shape groove on 78 rpm recordings. Also note that as
> of this date it APPEARS they had not made arrangements for the
> issuing of either stereo pre-recorded tape or half-track mono
> tape, only full-track mono.
> On March 13, 1956 came the next revision which modified the
> Feb 15, 1955 sheet. There were only a few changes.
> In the 2nd position, 4 was changed from "X" to the VIK label.
> In the 3rd position for some weird reason came G for "Gramaphone
> (recorded in England)" Not only do they not know how to spell
> Gramophone, it would appear that the EMI designation of 6 in
> the second position would have taken care of this.
> In the 4th position J for 7-inch 33 standard groove has been
> discontinued, X has been changed to read "Tape 7 1/2"/sec.
> Double Track", and A has been added to mean 7" 45 rpm "super."
> Does ANYONE know what "SUPER!!!!!" is???????
> The next revision came on March 20, 1957 and the only change
> seems to be that in the 2nd position 5 was changed from
> "Groove" label to Gale. Gale????????
> Also on my copy of the sheet are some pencilled additional
> explanations of some of the more unusual designations in
> the 4th position. T is childrens, S,K,U,and F are custom,
> and V is "spinner." There is also something written by W
> that looks like "conmiec" but probably is really "commerc"
> for "commercial" since this is the designation for regular
> 45s, as opposed to A for "super" 45s.
> This is where my sheets end and where I hoped that Joe Knox
> might be able to shed some enlightenment. His posting shows
> the changes that took place in 1963 from his observations:
>> 2nd position for label (1963 and later) C = RCA Camden;
>> N = RCA Victor "PRM/S-xxxx" special promo issues; P = RCA Victor;
>> number = custom for other labels (i.e., S1RM- on Reader's Digest LP)
>> 3rd position, 1963-up Size/speed R = LP; K = 45
>> 4th position in 1963, when only 'M' (mono) or 'S' (stereo) is indicated.
>> In 1974 RCA changed their catalog number system on LPs from
>> "LPM-xxxx" (et al) to, basically, the matrix number system
>> (i.e., the 1975 Bluebird LP series "AXM2-55xx";
>> the '2' is the number of discs in the album;
>> 'A' might be American ['F' is French, as in 'FXM1-7000']),
>> but this is beyond our scope here.
>>>> J. E. (Joe) Knox > > > "The Victor Freak" [log in to unmask]
> There's probably more to these later codes, but the info Joe
> gave for these later codes answers as many questions for me
> as the stuff I posted probably does for all of you.
> There is some additional info about the last half of the numberings.
> Until the system changed in 1955 the four digits of the serial number
> restart at 0000 at the beginning of each year in separate series for
> each category of music (as usually indicated by the third position.)
> When the system changed, there were now five separate annual serial
> numbering series for:
> 1) Live dates
> 2) LP's
> 3) EP's
> 4) Camden
> 5) "X"
> I do not know where this leaves singles, etc. so I am not sure if
> this is exactly what they did. There is a notation that all custom
> recordings will be in a separt serial number system that will not
> return to 0000 at the New Year, but will continue thru 10,000
> (actually 9,999.)
> The take numbers were to appear after a dash on protection parts only
> but is NOT to appear on either production transfers or record labels.
> "Production transfers will be marked with the transfer number (1S for
> the first transfer 2S for the second transfer, etc.)" Thus the original
> tape and protection lacquers will be marked with the tape, the
> production transfers would be marked with the transfer number, and the
> labels would be marked only with the prefix and serial number--no take
> numbers and no transfer numbers.
> I hope that this explanation will be helpful to all of you.
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
> Not for distribution without attribution to Dr. Michael Biel
> and J.E. Knox.