The American Record

The American Record (Japan) / c. 1904

back next

Design: The attractive design features the quintessentially American image of the bald eagle, chosen as the official emblem of the United States in 1782 because of its majestic appearance, its power and longevity, and because of its uniqueness to the North American continent. However, the illustration is not a strictly accurate representation of the official logo, which specifies 13 arrows in its left talon (representing the original 13 states in the Union, and repeated in the number of stripes on the shield); also, the official motto 'E Pluribus Unum' ('Out of many, One') is here replaced by the mercenary corporate name of J.A.P. Mfg. Co. (The epithet 'Jap' would come to have extremely negative sociological connotations when the two countries became enemies in WWII). The overall image symbolizes the offering of both the olive branch of 'peace' on the one hand (to its friends) and the arrows of 'war' (to its enemies) on the other, its outspread wings and fierceness of countenance showing a readiness to mount to the skies in resolute defence of its brood. Japan, which had only recently emerged from centuries of cultural isolation into the 'modern' world, was materially and financially assisted in this process by the United States, and this record company may well have played a small part in bridging the age-old cultural divide between east and west. With its equal showing of Roman and pictographic lettering, the label is a microcosmic picture of cultural, political and commercial interests combining in the worldwide dissemination of western values.

History: Label scan courtesy of collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K., who notes that this rare single-sided label is pre-1905.

site map   era index