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ARSCLIST  May 2010

ARSCLIST May 2010

Subject:

vertical cut disks intended to be played with needles

From:

Mark Hendrix 78L <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 19 May 2010 17:59:27 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (63 lines)

Hello, Art, you wrote:

From: "Art Shifrin" <[log in to unmask]>
> I'm under the impression that up to some year in the early 1920s, most 
> Pathe
> disks
> were vertical cut.  Their wide grooves were intended to be played with
> spherical sapphires.
> Say "spherical sapphires" in rapid succession 3 or more times .....  At
> least here in the US, those designated as needle cut were lateral & 
> intended
> to be played with needles.
>
>Often, "needle cut" referred to vertical-cut discs not intended to be
>played with the Pathe sapphire ball-tipped needle! They used steel
>needles, but the reproducers had the diaphraghm parallel to the records'
>surfaces.

>Steven C. Barr 

>Thanks to Stephen Barr for educating me about such critters.  Please list
>some of the labels that were pressed in this manner.  If not USA, then
>knowing which countries would be interesting too.

Prominent USA examples would be OkeH, Aeolian Vocalion, Starr (and its
successor, Gennett); minor ones would include those who contracted with
Pathe to produce vertically cut disks that reproduced with a steel needle (a
feat made possible by a modification to Pathe's master-cylinder-to-disc
reproducing pantograph). In this latter category, the obscure Crescent label
comes to mind--their pressing order from Pathe turned out to be incompatible
with Crescent's talking machine (either the discs were designed to be
reproduced with the sapphire ball, and the machine employed a steel needle,
or vice versa), even though Pathe was CAPABLE of producing discs in either
format.

Of course, the major companies abandoned their vertical cut discs and
machines when it seemed clear that Gennett would prevail in their lawsuit
against Victor, a lawsuit that ended Victor and Columbia's exclusive control
of lateral cut recording technology. Gennett prevailed in the courts in
1922, but by 1920 almost all of the industry had already followed Gennett's
lead in producing only laterally cut records.

As Jack Palmer's response suggests, a faltering US Pathe gave up making new
records for its vertical cut reproducing talking machine owners in late
1922, although its erstwhile French parent continued producing discs in both
formats until about 1930, I believe (two years after being purchased by
English Columbia). Thereafter in the USA, vertically cut discs were solely
the province of Edison discs and cylinders, and some transcription discs.

I would be fascinated to know the extent of vertically cut discs outside of
the USA.  Certainly, Pathe had significant market share in China and
Southeast Asia (Vietnam t.k.a. French Indochina and Thailand t.k.a. Siam).

I am not sure that these vertically cut discs that are played with a steel
needle were called "needle cut," as Steven Barr suggests. Pathe did refer to
their laterally reproducing Actuelle records as "needle cut," as I suppose
the Actuelle disc masters were, with yet another modification to their
pantograph.  (Of course, all acoustic Pathe masters were vertically cut
cylinders).  But I do not recall this term being used on any vertically cut
discs that are to be played with steel needles.

Best, Mark Hendrix

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