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ARSCLIST  November 2015

ARSCLIST November 2015

Subject:

Re: Dating a Presto Recording Corp. Transcription Disc Label

From:

"Barton, Matthew" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 18 Nov 2015 10:50:18 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (40 lines)

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 Label

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 information.

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.
(http://www.preservationsound.com/wp-
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.

Best,
Jesse

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