Black Swan

Black Swan (U.S.A.) / 1921

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Design: While the label was named for Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a famous black opera singer of the late 1800s who was known as 'The Black Swan,' the logo shows the well-known Australian waterfowl. The font used for the imprinting is Cheltenham, the American job printer's workhorse, which made its first appearance in 1904. As an example of cultural interchange (the British typeface of William Caslon having been used for almost all early American printing), Cheltenham, named after an English town, became very popular in England.

History: Label scan courtesy of collector and musicologist Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K., an expert on Scottish music history, whose comprehensive book, A Scottish Vernacular Discography 1888-1960 is available at One of the most sought-after of all American labels, launched in 1921 by Harry Pace, a black entrepreneur who had partnered with legendary bandleader W.C. Handy. The first label to be aimed at the black segment of the record-buying public, Black Swan was bought out by Paramount in 1923 after it had gone into bankruptcy, but was discontinued shortly thereafter.

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