ODEON RECORD, and ODEON, Reading Indian Record Labels – Part 4

Bajakhana

Gramophone Dancers

Gramophone Dancers

 

READING INDIAN RECORD LABELS
By Michael Kinnear, originally Published October 1991

Part Four – ‘ODEON RECORD, and ODEON’

The presentation of this article originally Published in October 1991 is as it was originally published, with minimal modification, and may have been superseded in some aspects.

 

Odeon Record - 10 3/4 inch

Odeon Record - 10 3/4 inch

Odeon Record - 10 3/4 inch

Odeon Record - 10 inch

Odeon Record - 10 inch

I have written a comprehensive article on the history of the ODEON RECORD and later ODEON labelled discs that were recorded and placed on the market in India between 1908 and 1940, under the title ‘ODEON IN INDIA’, in the International Talking Machine Review No. 77, Spring 1990, pages 2260 to 2270, and refer readers to that article for an in-depth look at the marketing of the earlier ODEON RECORD labelled discs, and the later issues of the 1930′ s which were labelled simply as ODEON.

Link to Article

ODEON IN INDIA, The Talking Machine Review, Spring, 1990

That article traces the long and complicated activities of the ‘Odeon’ record label and the companies that represented it in India, up to the present, so I do not intend to repeat that whole story here, except to mention the important points of recognizing and identifying the various series, matrix system, and sizes of the releases on the ‘Odeon’ label.

Within that article I have also made reference to other articles written by Frank Andrews and published in the same journal under the titles, A Further look at The International Zonophone Company along with “Sterling” (a Catalogue compiled by Sydney H. Carter, A History by Frank Andrews) and “A Fonotipia Fragmenta”. These series of articles provide what is at present in English, the most comprehensive examination of the beg innings,  activities, and corporate structure of the ‘Odeon’ record label. Any reader wishing to explore the very complex ‘Odeon’ saga further should refer to those articles.

There are in fact TWO separate and distinctive types of ‘Odeon’ labelled disc records, the first being marketed in India between 1908 up to 1914. These are known by their proper label name as ODEON RECORD and were manufactured in the unusual sizes of 7 1/2 inch (19cm), whereas most other record companies of the time were marketing 7″ (17cm) or 8″ (21cm) size discs in the smaller size, and the 10 3/4 inch (27cm) size as compared to the 101/2 inch (25cm) size of most other companies. Apart from the 7 1/2 inch and 10 3/4 inch sizes the ODEON RECORD was also marketed in 12″ (30cm) and the large, but rare 13 3/4 inch (35cm) size.

The later ODEON record label usually depicting ‘the Odeon dome’ and for the South Indian repertoire, with two elephants, was used in India and other areas between 1928 and 1938. The company controlling the label in Europe was essentially the same corporate structure that had produced and marketed the much earlier ODEON RECORD, but the representation and control of the later label in India was governed by very different business concerns.

The earlier ODEON RECORD was manufactured either in Germany at the Weissensee factory in Berlin, owned by Carl Lindstroem, A.G., or in England at the disc record pressing factory at Tonbridge, Kent, south of London, owned by The Crystalate Manufacturing Co., Ltd. The later ODEON discs were manufactured at the ‘Odeon­werke’ in Berlin between 1929 and 1934, but by 1934 the matrix stocks had been transferred to The Gramophone Co., Ltd., factory at Dum Dum, thus it is possible to find some titles issued on the later ODEON releases as both German and Indian pressings.

Having clarified the difference between ODEON RECORD and ODEON labelled discs of two distinct ‘eras’, we can now move on to describing the styles and life-spans of the labels.

The ODEON RECORD

The first releases of the Indian repertoire of ODEON RECORD in India appeared in March 1908 as the result of a recording expedition to India by the recording expert of the International Talking Machine Co.,m.b.H., who controlled the ‘Odeon’ label.

The recording expedition for ‘Odeon’ had begun at Calcutta in late 1906, and during the early months of 1907 moved on to take recordings in Benares, Lucknow, Cawnpore, Delhi, Amritsar and Lahore before being concluded at Bombay. Following the recordings taken in India, the ‘Odeon’ recording team moved onto Siam, Singapore, Hong Kong and China where more recordings were taken.

MATRIX SERIES

The matrix system utilized by the International Talking Machine Co., m.b.H., for India is identified by the alphabet letter ‘K’ which had a further prefix of one, two or three ‘x’ letters which defined the size of the matrix as follows.

Matrix System - International Talking Machine Co., m.b.H

Each country or recording centre had its own series of identifying letters, and it is presumed that in most instances, the actual numbering of the matrices was begun at 1. Certainly as far as India is concerned, that was the method of numbering the matrices. The identity of the recording experts who took the recordings on the first ‘Odeon’ expedition has not been verified, but it is likely to have been John Daniel Smoot who had already taken a considerable number of recordings for the company in Egypt, Syria and Turkey, and would have thus had some knowledge of oriental musical styles.

The first recording expedition of late 1906 into early 1907 across India, produced some 700 matrices. It seems that there may have been a further continuation of this recording expedition in 1908 by the same or possibly other recording experts of  ‘Odeon’ based in South East Asia, as known matrix numbers seem to indicate three separate divisions in the Bengali repertoire at least. Either as a separate or continued recording tour of India during 1908, approximately 800 more matrices were produced, beginning at Calcutta. It appears to have been confined to northern India only as no recordings were taken at Madras or other southern Indian places.

It is known that the recording expert responsible for the next ‘Odeon’ recording expedition of 1910 was named Mr. Nagle, and that he was still engaged in taking recordings in the Dutch East Indies during 1911, but there is no means of defining his particular recordings – from the matrix numbers – from those of other recording experts at least at present.

Mr. Nagle is believed to have also been responsible for the recordings taken during late 1911 and early 1912 in India, by which time the number of matrices in the Indian repertoire had reached over 2,600. The Indian recordings taken in early 1912 were in fact the last to be taken by the International Talking Machine Co.,m.b.H.

Markings on ODEON RECORD Discs

As mentioned above the ODEON RECORD was manufactured either in Germany or England. Apart from the matrix and catalogue numbers which are etched and incised into the disc face near the groove run off track, the early releases in the Indian repertoire have no markings to identify their place of manufacture, but the wording – PRESSED ABROAD – printed below the ‘Odeon dome’ on the top half of the label. The next pressings still retain the wording – PRESSED ABROAD – but also have the stamping of ‘Pressed in Germany’ and most often – MADE FOR FONOTIPIA COMPANIES – indicating that the label was in fact under the ownership and control of Fonotipia, Ltd. The next variation to appear on the discs pressed for the Indian market is that the wording – PRESSED  BROAD – is replaced by the wording – PRESSED IN GERMANY – printed  on the label together with a stamping of the same words near the disc run off groove.

Record collectors who have some early ODEON RECORD discs will notice that some pressings have a – blank track – about half-way through the disc. This device or “recognition line” as it was termed, had been incorporated into the pressings in an attempt to foil the possibility of the company’s records being “pirated”. This “recognition line” was used exclusively with ODEON RECORD, FONOTIPIA and JUMBO RECORD discs and had been introduced in 1908.

RECORD and CATALOGUE NUMBERS

From its beginnings in mid-1903 at Berlin, the International Talking Machine Co.,m.b.H., had developed a numerical system of identifying the repertoires of each country or label configuration by the first digit of the catalogue number of which the first 10,000 appear to have been reserved to the 7 1/2″ inch (19cm) discs. Apart from the ODEON RECORD labelled discs, the company also controlled the FONOTIPIA label, and it is believed to have included the Egyptian BAIDA RECORD and possibily the ORFEON RECORD of Blumenthal Record and Talking Machine Co., Ltd., of Berlin, Cairo and Istambul, in its numerical system.

The system of numbering ‘Odeon’ releases still requires further research to determine just how far it went to but it is known that it had already been expanded to over 101,000 by 1910. In brief, the following series are known to have been used for FONITIPIA and/or ODEON RECORD releases: 30,000 (Netherlands), 31,000 (used) 32,000 (British), 33,000 (French), and so on until we reach the 90,000 block of numbers which includes the Asian and Indian blocks, and a couple of FONOTIPIA blocks as follows:

Matrix System - International Talking Machine Co., m.b.H

Whenever a block of numbers had been completely filled up to **999, a new block was opened up for the particular repertoire, but not necessarily the next following block which may already have been in use for some other repertoire or label.

From the known matrix and catalogue numbers of the 10 3/4 inch (30cm) discs in the 94,000 (Red label), 95,000 (Brown label) and 96,000 (Koran series), it seems that all three Indian series were opened up simultaneously, and later, back filled as new titles were issued.

The 94,000 series appears to have been held for releases in the Bengali language, while the 95,000 series was first utilized for Hindustani titles and later for the Gujarati and Marathi repertoires and instrumental recordings. The exact use of the 96,000 series is not yet fully known, but to date, only recordings of recitations from the Koran have been found verified in this block, suggesting that the series was being utilized for a complete set of recitations from the Koran.

The original ‘Odeon’ record label had the words ODEON (Dome) RECORD, beneath the name of International Talking Machine Co.,m.b.H., woven around a scroll which was later registered as a trade mark by the company in 1913, together with the several patent numbers each side of the spindle hole, and with the number prefixed by – No. In time, the No. was replaced by an X- prefix.

Al though the familiar ‘Odeon dome’ label with the words ODEON … RECORD, was often replaced by some other illustration such as a sphinx and pyramid for Egypt, there have been no ODEON RECORD discs found with a particularly special design for India.

The ‘new design’ label on a plain background and with the word ODEON directly beneath the 1 dome 1 is believed to have been first utilized in about 1918, and may be seen on some of the 95,000 series in the Indian repertoire. These labels have a matt finish as distinct from a glossy finish. The glossy type of label with the word ODEON beneath the dome is believed to have been brought into production in about 1924.

The introduction of the ‘new design’ label with a glossy finish presents a particular problem of dating pressings of ‘Odeon’ discs in that there had not been any new recordings taken of Indian repertoire since 1912, and the last advertised releases were made in late 1913 with a final catalogue printed in 1914, by which time the single-face numbering system had been supplemented by a double-side face number.

Thus No. 95006 coupled with 95108 was catalogued as order number l. To add to the confusion, advertisements appeared in several Indian newspapers with both the single-face numbers and a double­face ‘order number’, intermingled with BEKA GRAND RECORD double­face ‘order number’, by virtue of the fact that The Talking Machine and Indian Record Co., marketed both the BEKA RECORD and ODEON RECORD in India, and used a sub-title as “The Seka, Odeon and Jumbo Record Agency”.

It is known that Valabhdas Runchordas, who operated both The Viel-o-phone Co., Ltd., and The Talking Machine and Indian Record Co., was still handling the ‘Odeon’ agency in India up to about 1927, but by then any titles on the ODEON RECORD and ‘new design’ 0DE0N label would have been simply repressing of recordings taken at the latest by 1912.

An example of a 10 3/4 inch disc with the older ODEON RECORD label on one side and the new design’ ODEON label, and with the ‘recognition line’, is the following red labelled disc in the 95,000 series.

Odeon Record Label

With the information presented above, this disc might have been pressed anytime between 1912 and 1927, but was almost certainly recorded during 1911-12, the matrix numbers being amongst the highest traced and within a couple of matrix numbers of releases made during 1912 by the same artist.

To complicate matters even more several releases of supposedly new titles were being advertised in May 1931 by the new agents in India, The Cosmos Engineering Co., (India) Ltd., 139 Medows Street, Bombay, along with the ‘new’ Electric records in the A245, 000 series (page 37 states) “New Odeon Double-Sided Acoustic Records, Size 10 3/4 inch Red Label (sic) at Rs. 2-12-0 each”.

Some of the records mentioned had definitely been issued previously, so it can only be assumed that these releases were simply left over stocks that both the Carl Lindstroem A.G.,in Germany, (the manufacturers) and The Cosmos Engineering co., (India) Ltd., (the Indian agents) wished to clear.

The marketing and distribution of the ODEON RECORD in India under the management of The Talking Machine Co., of India., between 1908 and 1912 and then by The Talking Machine Co., of India., between 1912 and 1927, does not seem to have been very prosperous and certainly the early 10 3/4 inch discs are not seen very often these days, let alone the 7½ inch and 12 inch size discs, which are quite rare and may not have been recorded or issued in any large quantities.

An interesting sidelight to the repertoire of songs and instrumentals that were issued on the ODEON RECORD label is that The Gramophone Co., in India would often bring out their own recordings of the same artist with the same coupling of songs on their cheaply priced ZONOPHONE RECORD, hoping to draw some sales away from their compe􀂉tors. Mr. Muradali appears not to have minded who recorded his songs and must have been somewhat amused (and no doubt richer) to know that he had recorded the same songs for GRAMOPHONE CONCERT RECORD, BEKA GRAND RECORD, RAM-A-GRAPH DISC RECORD as well as ODEON RECORD, and possibly other labels as well.

Although there appears to have been over 1000 double-sided ODEON RECORD discs placed on the market in India, the complete details of about two-thirds of this number are at present still to be verified before a proper assessment of the ODEON RECORD catalogue can be made.

The next major development with the ‘Odeon’ label in India occurs n late 1928 with the re-entry of Carl Lindstroem A.G., to the Indian market. At the time the ‘Odeon’ label was revamped in India, the corporate control of the label had been acquired by the Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd., and through its holding company Columbia (International) Ltd. , administered the company’s activities in several countries.

It is interesting to note however, that although the BEKA RECORD had not been marketed in India for several years, it had continued a strong presence in other areas of Asia, and was far better known in those areas than the ODEON label.

The ODEON Record

In mid 1930 a new style ODEON record was introduced to the Indian market with a new repertoire of ‘electric’ recordings which had been taken in Bombay during the later months of 1929.

The resurfacing of the ODEON record label in India was but part of a whole restructuring of the image and representation of the label in several Asian areas, from India to China. The new ‘electric’ series for all of the Asian countries involved in this restructuring were pressed at ‘Odeon-werke’ Berlin. The restructuring of the company’s interests in Asia also meant the appointment of new agencies in most areas, and India was no exception to this procedure.

Latest Odeon Records

Latest Odeon Records

The 245,000 Series

The releases on the ‘new’ ODEON label introduced not only the ‘electric’  recordings to the label for India but also a new catalogue numbering system which employed a double-face number prefixed with an A-, and numerical series of 245,000 (Blue label) and 245,800 (Red label).

The A- prefix series had first been introduced in 1912 when the block numbering series of some countries or label designations had become exhausted, and it is an indicator of the slowness of the company’s marketing interests in India to note that the A- 245,000 series was not utilized until 1929.

The ‘Ke’  Matrix series

With the ‘electric’ recordings taken in Bombay during 1929 a new matrix series was adopted with a ‘Ke-‘ prefix beginning at number -1. The recording •engineer’ in charge in India was Siegfried Franz who was but one of several recording engineers that had been sent out to Asia to take electric’ recordings for a revitalization of the ‘Odeon’ catalogue.

As far as can be determined the Ke- matrix series only reached some 500 recordings before there was yet another change in the corporate interests of ‘Odeon’ internationally.

At present, it is not known for certain if recordings were taken at places apart from Bombay which had been chosen for the head office of the ‘Odeon’ concern in India with Mr Jhanke being director in charge.

Markings on the ODEON Record

Record collectors having any products recorded and manufactured by Carl Lindstroem A.G. , Berlin, will notice a small – £ -inscribed into the disc surface near the disc run off ·groove. The – £ – symbol is actually the ornamental letter – L – which stands for Lindstrom, and relates to the ‘electric’ recording system that Carl Lindstroem, A.G., had adapted and modified from the Western Electric recording system for the new ‘electric’  method of recording.

Another small marking to be found on the record surface near the disc run off is a tiny letter, indicating the initial of the recording engineer in charge. Recordings in the Ke- matrix series of ‘electric’ ODEON records between 1929 and 1930 have a I  letter which appears to be Sh’ and is believed to be the initial of Mr. Scholziger.

Some musicians who took part in these recording sessions informed me that Siegfried Franz was the recording engineer, but his initial marking’ has been observed and verified as an ‘-F’, thus until the true identity of the ‘initial markings’ are proven, we will not be absolutely sure to whom the ‘Sh’ recordings should be attributed.

Bai Sundrabai of Poona and Hirabai Barodekar were amongst the first artists to be recorded in the Ke- matrix series, and the popularity of these artists ensured that the ODEON label would be well received by the record buying public, even though the actual pressings were still being ‘Made in Germany’.

Odeon Records, Bengalee, 26th August, 1908

Odeon Records, Bengalee, 26th August, 1908

The matrix numbers from about Ke-300 upwards have the ‘initial marking’ of ‘Bn’ which has been verified as the marking of Max Birkhahn, the son of another famous recording ‘expert’ Otto Birkhahn, who had been taking recordings since the early 1900’s.

The two catalogue series introduced for the new electric 1 recordings were: A-245,000 (Blue label) and the cheaper priced A-245,800 (Red label). Between 1930 and 1934, 128 releases were made on the Blue label and 57 issues on the Red label. By early 1934 the Odeon label had become but one of the many record labels that had been grouped together by the merger of The Gramophone Co., Ltd., and Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd., into the formation of Electrical and Musical Industries, Ltd., (E.M.I. Ltd.,) w􀀏ich was incorporated on 20th April 1931.

Although the ODEON label had been but one of the labels under the control of Columbia Gramophone Co., Ltd., between October 1925 and April 1931, the merger of the ‘Gramophone’ and ‘Columbia’ companies also meant that the ‘Odeon’ company was now also under the same corporate control within E.M.I.,Ltd. Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd., had set up its own interests in India in 1931 with head office at 29 Waterloo Street, Calcutta, and had also been engaged in taking recordings in the major cities of India with the intent of issuing its own catalogue and repertoire.

Thus by early 1932, there were three major record labels, HIS MASTER’S VOICE (The Gramophone Co., Ltd.,) ODEON (Carl Lindstroem, A.G.,) and COLUMBIA (Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd.,) all actively taking recordings of Indian repertoire, and within a year of this activity, placing product on the market of disc records in India as though they were three very separate and distinctive companies, but were in fact all tied together in the corporate sense.

In April 1932, the Hanseatic Trading Company, Ltd., announced that ODEON products would soon be available again through new wholesale agents, and in February 1933, s. Rose and Co., Ltd., sole distributors of the Columbia label announced that the new Columbia recordings were about to be placed on the market.

During 1934, the shells and galvanoes of the ‘Ke’ matrix series that had been utilized to manufacture the discs in the A-245,000 series were transferred from Berlin to Dum Dum, and those releases which were still achieving some sales were repressed at The Gramophone Co., Ltd.’s factory at Dum Dum. Stocks of releases that had not sold well were also sent to India, thus it is possible to find some discs in either German of Indian pressings and other releases only as German pressings.

For most titles the Indian repressing of the A-245,000 series of ODEON records, but there are a couple of variations between the German and Indian pressings of the same catalogue number as two different pressings of A245001 reveal. Record collectors who have a copy of this disc might like to take a closer look and see which pressing they have.

Odeon Double Sided Bengalee Records

Odeon Double Sided Bengalee Records


Odeon Record Label

The German pressings of the A245,000 ODEON discs have a glossy blue label and the details of the recordings ‘hand’ written and the wording ‘Made in Germany’ printed in English, and ‘Gerinan Banavat’ in Oevnagri script, while the Indian repressing have a matt blue label with type script, and – on some pressings only – the wording at the bottom of the label ‘Made in India’.

In a third pressing of some of the A245,000 series, some titles were re-released on COLUMBIA in the violet-coloured VE-5000 series during 1942 and 1943.

Many releases that continued to sell were retained in the catalogue up to 1937, by which time the representation of the ODEON label in India had been reorganized as a consequence of the merger of the ‘Gramophone’ and ‘Columbia’ companies, which will now be outlined.

The ‘new’  ODEON label in India

Under the new structure, the ODEON label in India was to be represented by new wholesale agents who were also to be primarily responsible for the organization and results of recording sessions held under their auspices. The German engineers were to actually supervise the recordings, but apart from that aspect, the success or failure of product released was to be the concern of the wholesale agent. The new agents were as follows:

Ruby Record Company

*matrix numbers 545 to 720 + have the prefix Wax – s = 10 inch
*’takes’ are noted by a suffix letter …. -1, or -2 etc
* from about matrix number 2400 – for the BOMBAY S-(10 inch) series the recordings for the ODEON ledger were taken by The Gramophone Co., Ltd.
Ruby Record company

The same recording engineers would usually travel on to Burma, Siam, Malay states, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, and al though each country and its agents had their own separate matrix identification letters, the ‘initial markings’ of these recording engineers are also to be found in these areas also.Some of the matrix prefixes for Asian recordings are: ZB for Burma, ZS for Saim, ZM for the Malay States, and Jab or ZJ for Java in the Dutch East Indies. Apart from ODEON there were a number of other record labels that utilized ‘Odeon’ matrix stocks in Asia, and nearly all of the discs for these labels were manufactured by The Gramophone Co., Ltd., at Dum Dum.

The recordings taken in the ‘Odeon’ matrix series by The Gramophone Co., Ltd., were recorded at Universal Building, Sir P. Mehta Road, Bombay, and at The Gramophone Co., Ltd.’s recording studio at Dum Dum, for Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd.  The ‘Gramophone’ matrix numbers will also have a coded prefix of letters to identify the recording engineer, while the ‘Columbia’ matrix numbers have numerical block numbers which provide the identity of the recording engineer. 

Between 1932 and 1938 the ODEON record label developed a reputation of outstanding merit artistically, producing recordings of superb quality, and might well have been considered to be the paramount record label then on the market in India, especially in Western India (through RUBY RECORD COMPANY) and Southern India (through Saraswathi Stores) despite the number of other competitors that had emerged onto the record market in India during those years, particularly with the rise of the BROADCAST label (through The Musical Products, Ltd., Madras), The Megaphone Company, and Hindusthan Musical Products, Ltd., both based in Calcutta.

R.D. Sethna on Left from Ruby Record Co., Recording Session, Abdul Karim Khan

Photograph taken during the Odeon recording sessions of December 1936.
Left to Right:  R.D. Sethna (Ruby Record Co.), Shamsuddin Khan, Dashrath Mule, Balkrishna Kapileshwari, Harishankar Kapileshwari, Max Birckhahn (Recording Engineer), Seated: Abdul Karim Khan

Ruby Record Company, Fort, Bombay - Part Cardboard Packing Boxes, Private Collection

Ruby Record Company, Fort, Bombay – Part Cardboard Promotion, Private Collection

Ruby Record Company, Fort, Bombay - Part Cardboard Packing Boxes, Private Collection

Ruby Record Company, Fort, Bombay – Part Cardboard Promotion, Private Collection

Although The Gramophone Co., Ltd., held a virtual monopoly in the field of disc record pressing in India, that monopoly was somewhat challenged in the mid-1930 1 s by the establishment of The National Gramophone Record Manufacturing Co,-, Ltd., at Wadala, on the northern side of Bombay. The ‘National’ company with its label YOUNG INDIA had recorded several of the artists that had been recorded for the ODEON label, and sometimes mimicked the ODEON releases, such was the competition in the sound recording  industry at the time.

The record buying public had never been offered such an extensive variety of product to select from as it was being offered in the middle to late 1930 1 s. The Gramophone Co., Ltd., apart from pressing discs for its own corporate labels, including HIS MASTER’S VOICE, THE TWIN, COLUMBIA and ODEON, was also pressing discs for some forty other record companies in India, apart from its contracts for pressing in Asian territories.

Ten years earlier the ODEON label had only to compete with HIS MASTER’S VOICE and THE TWIN labels in India, but it now faced a market place of some fifty new record labels being marketed in India, and al though the ODEON label would have survived the frantic onslaught of competitive product, the outbreak of war in Europe quickly changed the whole perspective of matters, as the ODEON label, despite being actually owned by British interests, was still being managed in India by German personnel who were deemed to be on the side of the enemy.

The Hanseatic Trading Company of 24 Rampart Row, Fort, Bombay

I under the direction of Mr. Jhanke, the managers of ‘Odeon’ interests in India, appears to have suddenly left town in 1938, with the control of the ODEON label passing to the direct control of Columbia Graphophone co., Ltd., who in turn diminished the role of the Ruby Record Company to that of simple distributors of ODEON and COLUMBIA products.

Although both the Ruby Record company in Bombay and Saraswathi Stores in Madras continued to market and advertise ODEON releases up until 1941, the number of releases had become very small indeed, and with the ODEON label being under ‘Columbia’ control in India, preference was being given to the releases on the COLUMBIA label which also included recordings that had been intended for release on the ODEON label.

Since mid 1940, the ODEON releases had been issued jointly with COLUMBIA and REGAL releases, and by May 1942, the ODEON label had been dropped altogether. In June 1942, several releases that had formerly been issued on the ODEON label were now reissued on the COLUMBIA label in their own reissue series. For the 10 inch discs the COLUMBIA violet-coloured VE-5000 and the COLUMBIA green coloured GE-17 500 series were used for re-releases of ODEON products, and the COLUMBIA plum coloured BEX- series was utilized for 12 inch re-releases for 12 inch re-releases.

A similar procedure was initiated for South Indian ODEON labelled discs, but it appears that the original ODEON catalogue numbers were retained for some series. When the ODEON label was abandoned in 1942, those matrices that had not been utilized were used for releases on the COLUMBIA and REGAL labels.

The events described above bring the activity of the ODEON record label in India to a . close, at least as far as releases of 78 r.p.m. discs are concerned, even though many releases that had originally appeared as ODEON labelled discs were still being manufactured as COLUMBIA discs up to about 1970.

Record collectors are advised to examine any ODEON record closely and to take into consideration that many discs originally issued with the ODEON label may be found with COLUMBIA labels, and that certain recordings taken “for” the ODEON label, may actually have been issued as either COLUMBIA or REGAL discs.

Having trekked our way through the basic description of the ODEON RECORD and ODEON labelled disc records, there now follows a summary of the styles and extent to which the series was developed or taken, hopefully providing information as to the first and last  “known” issue in each series.

“ODEON RECORD”
INDIAN SERIES

(1906 – 1913) in use up to c.1926, still being marketed in 1931.

Odeon RecordMatrix System - International Talking Machine Co., m.b.H

“A PROBLEM”

In an ODEON RECORD catalogue that I have a copy of, dating from 1914 and printed in Urdu script from a hand-written original, there are listed some 35 double-sided discs numbered from 80 to 113, all with single-face numbers ranging from 1613 to 2666 – which may in fact be either 71/2 inch or 12 inch ODEON RECORD labelled discs. These numbers are given in the 10 3/4 inch listing – but a.) they do not fit into the 10 3/4 inch catalogue series, or b.) they do not fit into the BEKA RECORD – 10 inch series either. There is a separate BEKA RECORD 10inch listing in this catalogue, so it is most likely that these other numbers are of ODEON RECORD releases of other sizes. Does any reader or record collector have any 7 inch or 12 inch ODEON RECORDs that might shed some light on this puzzle?

The artists listed are Muradali, Master Peshwari, Wazir Khan, Budh Singh, Choonilal, Aziz Khan and Hamida Jan, amongst others, all of whom made recordings for ODEON RECORD in the 10 3/4 inch series.

The information and summary of ODEON RECORD and ODEON labelled records given above, suggests that some 9,000 plus matrices were taken in India – and thus there may have been about 4,500 or more discs issued on the ODEON RECORD and ODEON labels in the Indian repertoire.  My research on the ‘Odeon’ labels thus far has accounted for about half of that number of discs.

Odeon Record - Columbia Record, Saraswathi Stores

Odeon Record – Columbia Record, Saraswathi Stores

The 78 rpm Record Labels of India by Michael Kinnear

 

Copyright © 2019 Michael Kinnear