I think all sorts of strange stuff took place with cutting guys in the 60's, 70's and at th end of 
the LP era.  Stan Ricker had some quite original stuff in his Mobile Fidelity cuts of the 70's. In 
earlier times, too much fanciful stuff was frowned on but every cutter had his "maker's mark" that 
he would inscribe. At Fine Sound in the 50's, most cuts would just have the catalog number stamped 
in the dead wax like early Mercury MG series. Same for Verve, Kapp and Grand Award cut there. This 
might have been a practice my father picked up at Reeves in the late 40's or Majestic before that. 
When Fine Recording opened up, George Piros was dealing with more lathes and more cutter heads --  
certain combinations preferred by certain producers -- so he started a code of "PXX" with XX being a 
number representing a lathe and cutter head. He would hand-scribe his mark plus the catalog number 
and side a or b into the dead wax. John Johnson would scribe JJ. Once dedicated mastering houses 
sprung up, you'd see a stamp imprint of, for instance, "Mastered by MasterDisc". I'm not sure if 
guys at the pressing plant would further scribe the dead wax to indicate a replacement part or later 
replacement master. I would imagine a major label's mastering department, like Columbia, would some 
pretty complex codes to follow in the interest of uniformity.

Bob, how many cutters were there at Motown and what was your system?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Frank Wylie" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] LP pressing question

> Roger and Allison Kulp wrote:
>> Bob,
>> Dead wax is the term for the area in between the label.and the end of the runoff groove.Actually 
>> non-promo test pressings get out there quite a bit.I own several dozen.At least 100 or 
>> so,including one of "A Christmas Gift to You From Philles Records".The oldest one I have seen,is 
>> an early Columbia test pressing of an uncredited recording of "Casey Jones",that I was able to 
>> date to about 1906.I sold it on eBay last year.This had a blank white label,with the title 
>> written in pencil,and the label usually found on the backs of Columbia of this period.
>>                                     Roger
> Apropos of nothing;  I remember as a teen discovering cryptic messages inscribed in the "dead wax" 
> (thanks for a new term!) area of LPs I purchased.  They  must have been cut into the masters and 
> most messages were in the (for lack of a better term) retrace area that parks the needle at the 
> end of the record.
> Can't even remember which albums had these strange tags on the retrace; anyone else know of this 
> practice and any history behind it?
> Thanks.
> -- 
> S. Frank Wylie
> Independent Motion Picture Specialist
> Dayton, Ohio