Berliner Private Record

Berliner Private Record (Canada) / c. 1920

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Design: The so-called 'scribing angel' logo appeared on GT&S labels in the very early years of the 20th century, while the 'bat-wing' border seen here is as introduced by Victor in 1912. The 'angel,' updated from its earliest, impish-looking incarnation, is now curly-haired and feminine (see below).

History: Having developed the flat 'wax' disk concept for records (a product that buyers came to prefer over the cylinder, as originally developed by Thomas Edison), Emile Berliner had established record-producing companies around the world, including one in London, England in 1898 called the Berliner Gramophone Company; eventually it would become known as The Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd., and Sister Companies (GT&S), with the 'scribing angel' as its logo. On a trip to London in 1900, Berliner had seen the famous painting by Francis Barraud of the artist's dog, Nipper, listening to a gramophone, and immediately trademarked it in the U.S. In that same year, as a result of legal wrangles, Berliner sold his U.S. interest in Victor and moved to Montreal, Canada. While retaining a close business association with Victor, and acting as the sole distributor of Victor records in that country, he began issuing his own records under the 'His Master's Voice Victor' masthead. The 'His Masters Voice' trademark had been part of the Berliner corporate assets acquired by Victor, who had begun to use the image on all their labels; the same logo would also appear on Berliner-issued records but with the HMV slogan being super-sized over and above the Victor name. Berliner may have chosen to use the 'scribing angel' logo as a way of showing that this line of records was not connected to the Victor catalogue, even though the distinctive border would suggest the close corporate relationship.

The Reverend Dr. Edmund James Peck (1850-1924) was a missionary to the Eskimo (now called 'Inuit') people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Earning the sobriquet of 'The Apostle of the North,' he worked tirelessly in spite of harsh conditions to spread the Christian Gospel and establish Anglican churches and hospitals in northern Canada. This record, spoken by him in the Inuit tongue, at which he worked hard to master (at a guess, the title may be something like 'The Good News'), was evidently sponsored by the powerful Hudson's Bay Company, which over the centuries had established a far-flung network of fur-trading posts across the entire country, its factors often acting as the de facto government.

Label scan courtesy of discographer and musicologist Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K., author of A Scottish Vernacular Discography 1888-1960, who found this rare Canadian item at a record fair in Birmingham, England.

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