The software on this computer makes quoting messages difficult and 
confusing, so I am trying the only method I can find. I hope it works and is 
acceptable. If not, I'll revert to paraphrasing the messages to which I am responding - 
in this case, David Lennick's about Victor "Z" pressings.

  In my experience, there was a subtle degrading of the quality of Victor's 
USA pressings around 1936. They were still excellent and much quieter than had 
been the case before the introduction of "Z" material around 1933 and remained 
so until the cut-off of shellac due to the war, as Steve Smolian said, but 
there was a change. The surfaces of a good-condition "Z" pressing yield no 
surface noise at all beyond a steady background hiss. Like an analogue tape, but 
louder. There is no crackle or other noise at all. Post-1936 or so pressings are 
frequently a bit noisier. They are also more prone to damage from any kind of 
dampness, which implies a change in the mix used for pressings: Victors from 
about 1937/39 can develop tiny craters about the size of pinheads on top if 
they were ever in damp or humid conditions. Any friction will dislodge them, 
causing loud clacking and possibly knocking the tip off of a stylus. There are 
other factors. I have always found that a "Z" pressing is heavier than previous 
or post-1936 pressings; one can feel it in one's hands. The appearance of the 
surface in the "land" between the grooves and labels, too: good "Z" pressings 
are ultra-smooth, later ones slightly less so. Also, a classic "Z" pressing 
has a distinctive font for "Victor," with a long serif on the "r." They seem to 
have only used that for about three years at the most, maybe 1933 to early 

  David is correct that some "Z" pressings can have bad surfaces (I've 
encountered that too). Also, I have had a couple of Victor 78s with a "z" that were 
pressed on the earlier, noisy material and one or two sets pressed on the 
later material that still had a "z" on a side or two. Perhaps it was put on the 
stampers and removed from them at the wrong times?

  I was told something about "Z" pressings years ago and wonder whether 
another member can verify it: that during the 1933 World's Fair ("Centennial of 
Progress") in Chicago, Columbia Records won the top prize largely because its 
laminated pressings were so quiet. Because of that, Victor responded with the 
immensely improved surfacers of "Z" pressings. Is that correct?

  Don Tait


  In a message dated 10/28/2005 6:51:45 PM Central Standard Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:

> Subj:Re: [ARSCLIST] code on Victor label 
> Date:10/28/2005 6:51:45 PM Central Standard Time
> From:[log in to unmask]
> Reply-to:[log in to unmask]
> To:[log in to unmask]
> Sent from the Internet 
> Don Tait wrote:
> >   Steve Smolian is correct about the "z" on Victor 78s. The records have
> > superior surfaces to pressings from previous periods. Much quieter, due to 
> a
> > different mix in the material used for pressings. Victor seems to have 
> used it from
> > about 1933 to some time in 1935, after which the material was degraded 
> again
> > - although not to the level that it had been in the "Orthophonic" period
> > (pre-1933). Does any member have more specific details?
> >
> >   "Z" pressings are sought-after by collectors for their superior surfaces
> > and are relatively uncommon because they were issued during the bad times 
> of the
> > Depression, when record sales were down.
> >
> >   Don Tait
> I thought Z-material continued in use long after the letter had disappeared 
> from the
> pressings, since there are abundant examples of very quiet Victor pressings 
> right into
> 1940 (until the introduction of drop automatic album sets, lower prices and 
> miserable
> quality shellac and the end of worthwhile record collecting as we know it). 
> I've also
> turned up the odd z-set that was very noisy (Verklarte Nacht, 
> Ormandy)..could this be
> from a set of z-stampers being used on a different mix?
> dl