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This week I’ll be listing on Ebay a Melba test pressing from a master, not a stamper, , “12 Melba,” Lucia. Mad scene, recorded in March, 1904.

It is on  a Gramophone Monarch white label “Sample for Approval.” 

In the white title area is only the penciled note, “1st copy good, the others to do over” 

This might be in Melba’s hand but I not a handwriting expert.  I’m assuming it is that of another person.

I’ve been unable to find specific dates for these sessions beyond March, 1904.  It’s not likely they did all 28 sides the same day.  

I’ve checked various sources for more exact dates with no success.  Neither Landon Ronald, who was there, nor Fred Gaisberg, who infers he was there but may not have been, give dates in their memoirs. Sinkler Darby, who sees to have been the recording engineer (his initials are in the wax under the label,) left no memoir as far as I’ve been able to learn.  It was a significant occasion and recognized as so by many.  Were these made on consecutive days or did the crew record a week or so apart?  Anyone looked at the local newspapers?  

If they were done consecutively, then the  comment on the record could cover any number of her 28 or 30 recordings, given the time gap required to process the plates and press the tests.  If not, this item may show that all but one of a particlar group were unapproved.  The masters of only 17 sides from these sessions seem to have survived.  Unapproved metal parts seem to have been given to Melba to destroy.  She seems also to have been persuaded to approve some sides she initially rejected.  

How many sides were recorded each day?  Has anyone a real date for these?  Is this record a curiosity or does add a bit of significant information to the history of recording?

Steve Smolian