As a friend of AFR Lawrence at the time he was advising Columbia on the 
metal parts issue, here's what I recall.

Larry was asked by Goddard Lieberson to analyze the various matrix series in 
their Bridgeport vaults.  He compiled a list of prefixes and determined 
whach were owned by Columbia and which by others for whom Columbia hade made 
custom pressings.  This later group included various 16" metal parts.

Planning was underway for the Pittman, NJ plant to which the masters were to 
be moved.  Lieberson felt there was no point in building a storage space 
large enough for all the metal parts if a significant number of them were 
not Columbia's property to be considered for commercial exploitation by 
them.  Space to hold only company-owned materials was to be included in the 
new building.  (This sounds like good management to me.)   The new facility 
was opened in 1961.  At that time, there were very few sound archives in the 
U.S.  I believe NYPL didn't want them- Phil Miller was a friend of Larry's 
and mine and knew about this research.  Phil was in continual touch with 
Harold Spivacke, head of the Music Division at the Library of Congress 
(there was no separate sound section as yet.)  Yale's "Historical Sound 
Recordings Collection" had no space and a tightly defined colleting misson 
that put a large, non-classical metal parts accumulation out of bounds. 
Neither Syracuse nor Stanford had operating sound archives at the time.  I 
don't know if the Vitaphone-type masters were offered back to the film 
companies who owned them but I recall mention that most owners of the 
non-Columbia stuff could not be traced.

Decisions about the fate of then-surviving Columbia-owned masters were made 
within the company.  Larry's job was as "indentifier-in-chief."

Remember that there was a constant combing for various reusable metals 
during both world wars in all countries, survival of the country being a 
fairly important consideration.  In my opinion, it is far preferable to be 
able to bitch freely about this loss than to be buying superb copies with 
Nazi currency.

Steve Smolian

-----Original Message----- 
From: Gray, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, December 04, 2013 9:45 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] steven barr - metal parts

Without stepping on this thread, here is what I understand to be the status 
of metal parts in company hands:

Sony Music - Holds Victor parts + some HMV; disposal of Columbia, et al. 
metal may be related to the closure of the Bridgeport plant (cf. AFR 
Lawrence papers at LC)
Former EMI - Holds primarily classical parts - most pop metal and most of 
Columbia was destroyed during World War II. Also had virgin pressings of pop 
material. Vault inventory exists. Note: for metal trasnferred for the Great 
Recordings reissues of the 1950s, metals were destroyed;
Former EMI-France - Holds selected metal parts, primarily 12 inch classical. 
An inventory was made in 2005;
Universal Music France - Donated metal parts to the Bibliotheque nationale - 
most consist of 45/LP metal, though the donation did include on previously 
unknown Edith Piaf side;
Former Electrola - All metal destroyed during World War II - company 
solicited metals from affiliates to restore catalog after 1945;
Deutsche Grammophon - Holds ca. 5K parts pre-1914 from the 'Gramophone' 
catalog - many DG/Grammophon electrical metals survived in the pressing 
plant but were destroyed thereafter;
Warner-Teldec - 78 Telefunken metals currently survive - other metals 
survive in Japan;
Nippon Columbia - Some metals survive.

A further note: Because Columbia 78 metal work after ca. 1939, and at 
Capitol and Decca, were recorded from lacquer session masters, the lacquers 
represent the original recordings and (hopefully!!) are still being 


P.S. I don't believe the Universal deal with LC set a precedent for future 
donations ...