ISI

I.S.I. (Germany) / c. 1910

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Design: The centre band shows an ornament on either end that is very much in the 'Jugendstil' (youth style) fashion, which was the German equivalent of the French Art Nouveau style of the late 1890s, and which came to the fore in the early 1900s. Having the serial numbers in a large size within a band crossing the spindle hole (and the song titles appearing in multiple languages) is a treatment also to be seen on other German-made labels of the era (see A, B, C).

History: The name 'Saxony' (at the foot) being one of 16 petty states welded by Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck into a unified Germany in 1871, was probably more acceptable to English buyers than that of 'Germany,' with whom they would shortly be at war. Label scan courtesy of UK collector Mark Schuler, who writes: "Having done research, I found that the songs featured on the above label were written in 1908. Any further information anyone could supply would be greatly appreciated."

Collector Georg Richter of Germany, who also supplied the alternate scan below, from c. 1913, which appears in German only but is repeated twice, responds: "ISI stands for 'Isi-Werke Internationale Schallplatten-Industrie GmbH' (GmbH is equivalent to the designation of 'Ltd.' or 'Limited Company'). Located in Leipzig, Germany, it was founded in 1909 (though not officially registered until 1910) by a wealthy real estate developer, Bruno Castner. This company was shut down in 1919 but reopened immediately in the same year as 'Isi-Werke Internationale Schallplatten-Industrie Bruno Castner.' This reorganized company was closed in early 1932 because in 1931 Mr. Castner had bought a significant portion of a bankrupt record company, Menzenhauer & Schmidt of Berlin, which had issued Kalliope records, thus coming into possession of Kalliope's recording studio and their extensive catalogue of master matrices. Other record companies to come under Mr. Castner's ownership were as follows: Isiphon-Concert-Record GmbH (1925-1931); Electrocord Company mbH (1930, renamed in 1932 as Isi-Werke Internationale Schallplatten-Industrie GmbH and closing in 1939); and Vox Company mbH (1929, renamed in 1931 as Deuco Deutsche Cordy Company mbH, closing in 1938). Known record labels issued by his companies were: ISI-Rekord (1910); Isiphon Concert Record (1920); Isiphon-Concert-Record (1925); ISI; Cordy; Electro-Cordy; Electrocord; and Klangwunder (and possibly others). The above data is incomplete because of the difficulty in tracing Mr. Castner's business dealings; he was fighting bankrupty until 1947, with every intention of reactivating the initial company's name, but by 1950 his last remaining company was finally deleted from official corporate registers. The buildings he had once owned in Leipzig were demolished in 1996."



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