Minstrel Record

Minstrel Record (New Zealand) / c. 1912

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Design: The label name lettering is drawn in very medieval-looking blobby-serifed Lombardic capitals, which were generally used as initials in combination with Gothic text. The youthful harpist, crowned with a garland of laurel leaves and a belted tunic beneath his cloak, his legs wrapped in bands of cloth, seems to be pointing beyond his ornamented instrument toward the advertising blurb, "Brightest, Smoothest, Sweetest and Best," which echoes the claims of another New Zealand label, Herald (right), with its similar-sounding claims of being "Popular, Bright, Loud, Clear, Smoothest and Best."

Part of the illustration has been drawn to appear 'normal' when printed in a light colour on a dark background (e.g. the harpist's face and arms), while other areas appear in 'negative' form (e.g. his seat, his legs). On the Herald label, the entire image appears to be completely reversed.

There are parallels in the conceptual and graphic treatment of both labels, e.g. a line illustration of a medieval figure, thin lines defining the imprinting segment and miniature Victorian-era ornaments.

History: Label scan courtesy of music researcher and collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K. As noted on the website of UK collector Norman Field, the typographic encoding marks (to the lower right of the image) indicate that it was one of a series of recordings by comedic singer Billy Williams, and was produced in Germany ('Made Abroad') by the Beka company for the E.W. Pidgeon company of New Zealand, which had outlets in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

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