Columbia Phonograph 1

Columbia Phonograph Co. (U.S.A.) / c. 1902

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Design: The image above the spindle-hole is a depiction of the pagan native Indian goddess Columbia, a mythical, exotic figure who is often shown brandishing a tomahawk. Her name has its origins in the combined names of the explorer Columbus and the Virgin mother (Virginia). She was often depicted as riding a wild beast, though the image is not clear here; perhaps the American eagle is at her feet, with the American flag providing a backdrop. Other symbols of freedom are to be seen, such as broken chains, a Greek column, etc. The fonts which follow the outer curve are from completely different families; the one in the upper segment is stub-serifed, with the serifs as thick as the main strokes, while the one in the lower segment derives from the tradition of copper engraving, in which the serifs are spiky in nature.

History: Columbia is the oldest name in pre-recorded sound, having its beginnings in 1888. Its name derives from the (Washington) District of Columbia, where most of its product was sold in the early days. Here, it is evident that corporate offices had been established in the U.S., England and Italy. Label scan courtesy of collector Ken Hagelthorn of the U.S.A.

Design variations of this label in this decade (click on image to view page):

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