Continental 78 RPM red label
SLAM STEWART ON REMINGTON

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LP LIST / AUDIO & MUSIC BULLETINTHE REMINGTON SITE  / 7" RECORD GALLERY 

 

Webster Manufacturing Co. Massachusetts - Record Corporation of New England

 

 

 

 

Capitol Cavalcade 1942-1952 Ten Years Capitol Capitol Records Inc. PRO-103

Capitol Cavalcade, a ten inch record released in a limited edition in 1952 "Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Capitol Records Inc."
Written and narrated by
Dave Dexter Jr.
Produced by William H. Miller and John Paladino. Capitol PRO-103

 

 

 

 

78 RPM Continental red label

 

 


Continental 45 RPM label

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Besides Donald H. Gabor (Continental Records Inc.) there were other people who started a record company in the early nineteen forties. One of these companies was Capitol Records which was founded in 1942, the year the US engaged in World War Two. Glenn Wallichs (Glenn E. Wallichs, 1910-1971) was one of the founders of Capitol Records. At the occasion of the 10th Anniversary in 1952, a 10" promotional record was produced. Glenn Wallichs can be heard on this release. He remembered:


 "I happened to be operating a music and record store at the time and Johnny Mercer was a regular customer of the shop. Occasionally, while browsing around and listening to new records, he'd even buy one. But seriously, Johnny commented frequently about various recording artists and the songs on records and I recall how we both agreed that there just might be room for a new company. The more we talked, the more enthused we became. And shortly, with a very big assist from the late motion picture and stage producer, and songwriter, Buddy DeSylva, Johnny Mercer and I rented office space and founded Capitol Records.  Cow Cow Boogie, Elk's Parade and Strip Polka were immediate hits. But Capitol had its problems nonetheless. It takes tons of shellac to manufacture phonograph records and because of the war, shellac was virtually impossible to obtain in any quantity." - Glenn E. Wallichs

The scarcity of shellac determined the record production in the 1940s. Right from the start of the existence of Continental Records in 1942, Gabor's 78 RPM shellac records were pressed at the Scranton Record Manufacturing plant which at the time was the largest independent record pressing factory in the US, as discographer David Diehl pointed out.  Even after Capitol Records had acquired this plant in 1946, Gabor's Continental, Csardas, and White Eagle were manufactured there. Probably a few early Remington 78s may have been pressed there as well, but then for a short period of time only.

Having records pressed at Scranton was a costly affair. Shellac was scarce and expensive. That is the reason why Gabor started experimenting to obtain a workable mixture of shellac and plastic in order to become less dependent on the availability of shellac and to reduce the cost of production at the same time. He succeeded in creating "websterlite". Billboard magazine of July 1948 wrote that Gabor's compound contained 25 to 30 per cent of vinylite, is longer-wearing than shellac, doesn't skid on record changers and can be turned out at a production cycle of two a minute.

NOTE In other countries manufacturers came up with similar ideas. For example in the Soviet Union,  CCCP (USSR), where 78 RPM records were pressed on a mix of shellac and plastic which provided a smoother surface and improved the signal to noise ratio at the same time. The American label Concert Hall Society pressed their 78 rpm records on red vinyl with hardly no filler. Because of the purchase of a load of plastic in 1946, their record production was not hampered by the existing scarcity of shellac.

To be able to determine what the pressing process would be, and to be able to control the production entirely, it was necessary to be in charge of the pressing plant completely. So Gabor was going to run his own mill and Continental could become an even more independent company so to speak. That was in 1947 when the Record Corporation of New England was founded. The factory was located at 34, Chase Avenue, Webster, Massachusetts.

Webster had once been a center of textile manufacturing. After World War II had ended, the Webster Manufacturing Co. had moved to a nonunion site in the South to avoid strict regulations, leaving behind an empty factory and an unemployed labor force. Discographer David Diehl suggests that Gabor persuaded the workers to buy the factory and install record-pressing equipment themselves. But it is more likely that Don Gabor himself bought the mill and put in the equipment while relying on the existing labor force and thus the factory started pressing shellac records in 1947 of his ethnic labels Czardas, White Eagle, Continental, and sometime later also Remington 78 rpm disks.

Already in the spring of 1948 Gabor set up a second factory, but this time in Montreal, Canada. There Gabor's records were released under the Maple Leaf label.

When the Long Playing record had been introduced Gabor conducted trials to find a similar substitute for LP records. There were two reasons. One, there was a shortage of plastic, and two, he wanted to keep his prices low which was impossible when using 100% high grade vinyl.

The Webster factory had 42 presses and also started manufacturing 45 RPM 7 inch records already in 1949. Several years later all of Gabor's labels were pressed in the Webster Pressing Plant: 33 1/3 and 45 RPM discs; the early Continental LPs from before 1950; the cheap Remington LPs starting in the Fall of 1950; and the early high quality Masterseal editions with reference MW of which the production was announced in 1951. In 1951 Gabor told journalist Cecil Smith that he intended to press the records of his new Remington label also in the Webster plant. From that article it is clear that London records were pressed there as well. See Cecil Smith's article in The New Republic. But not all of Gabor's labels were pressed in Massachusetts. From the looks of most of the Plymouth releases, it is possible that these may have been pressed in another factory, in New Jersey for example.

At left is a page of a small size Remington Records Catalog issued in the fall of 1952. It says that Remington is one of the world's largest independent record manufacturers, a company not linked to a radio station or existing as a division of a larger company. The image also shows with pride the pressing plant located at Chase Avenue, Webster, Massachusetts, and the countries were Remington Records were recorded and/or distributed: Holland, Canada, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Japan. He also sold licenses to companies in Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Australia.

In 1955 the plant was flooded and after reopening in the fall of 1955 it was working at only 75 per cent of the normal capacity. Gabor sold his Record Corporation of New England and the pressing plants in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1959 to Thompson Record Corporation, a financial syndicate which probably had already a stake in the company.

Page first published on the www on
October 14. 2009.


In the early days of the label many recordings of classical and semi classical music were made in Vienna. They were produced by Marcel Prawy. A few were made in Stuttgart with soloists and conductor Hans Grischkat. In France recordings were made with conductor George Enesco and a few other French artists. In the Netherlands Remington records were pressed and handled by Basart International N.V. in Amsterdam. Also in Canada LP records were pressed and distributed. From 1954 till 1956 classical and semi-classical recordings were made in Berlin and a few in other German cities like Düsseldorf. And there were the recordings made with Thor Johnson in Cincinnati.

Most recital recordings made in America were generally done in the Mastertone Recording Studios Inc. in New York City NY 10036. However at some instances a recording session was more or less improvised as the idea to record a specific artist was practically decided on the spot at that very moment. This may have been the case with George Enesco's Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin by Bach released on Continental CLP-104/5/6. These may have been recorded at Gabor's home, or in his office, or in a room of a recording studio when the actual studio was not available, or even in the Webster plant. This is suggested by the striking of a clock which can be heard at some instance in the background. These performances were recorded on acetates. In specific cases other locations may have been chosen for practical reasons like Mannes School of Music or the Florida State University.

   

It is not known what makes and what types of tape recorders were used, although they must have been professional machines somewhat like the Magnecord M-80A (mechanical tape transport) and M-80C (amplifier) or earlier types. The speeds of the Magnecord tape transport were 7.5 and 15 ips (19 and 38 cm/sec.). Notwithstanding the fact that the sound quality recorded with professional and semiprofessional machines was of a relatively high standard, Donald Gabor re-recorded the original tapes with the help of a simpler tape recorder. And from that "master" the lacquer was cut.
I suspect that he did this to "create" a sound character which would make his records better playable on relative simple radio systems and cheap portable gramophones with ceramic cartridges or crystal pick ups. By using the variable treble and bass controls, the surface noise could be somewhat suppressed and the bass could be enhanced.
Gabor was interested in manufacturing records with "music for millions". If recorders like the Magnecord were not used by Gabor, these or similar machines of other brands were in use by the Mastertone Studios or by any other sound recordist like Robert E. Blake.

The specs at right give an indication of the technical standards in those days. These were published in High Fidelity magazine of October, 1954. The frequency response at 15 ips is alreaday an amazing 20 to 20.000 cycles +/- 2 dB! Wow!
Wow and flutter is less than 0.1 %, the distortion better than 0.53 %. The tubes used are of the types 6BK7, 12AU7, 5Y3GT and 12 AX7. The prices of $950 and $315 respectively were in accordance with the quality.

 

 

LATHE
At left a modern cutting lathe with a stroboscope at the edge of the heavy platter. There were lathes used without stroboscope.

Once the lacquer is cut, it is fixed to a carrier and galvanized (nickel plated) and various positives and negatives are being made through electrolytic processes.

The drawing above shows the manufacture of one side of the final record. After the lacquer is cut, it will be galvanized which produces a metal disc which could be used for pressing. But probably for not more than 2000 LP discs.

In order to press high numbers, this master will be mirrored (mother) and from that plate a son will be made which is used in the record press.

It is now possible to produce more "mothers" and more "slaves" whenever plates loose their sharpness.

At left a lacquer of a 45 rpm 7" disc recording. The lacquer used is much larger than the final small disc. It is in fact a lacquer for a 10 inch record, 10 inch being the minimum (practical) size of a plate that could be mounted in the press in those early days. The pressed discs will be trimmed down to the actual size. Later special machines were constructed for the manufacture of the 7" 45 RPM disc.
       
Groove and surface of the nickel plated matrix have to be checked carefully before it can be decided that from this plate negatives can be made. These negatives are called mothers and from each mother subsequent pressing stampers (slaves or sons) are made. Irregularities in the spiral track and of the surface of the master are corrected with specific tools. If the galvanized master has irreparable defects, it can not be used and a new lacquer has to be cut. Naturally the mothers have to be checked too, as well as the slaves, the actual stampers, from which the vinyl records are pressed.
 
A record pressing plant was not a healthy work environment. Dust, heat and bad air determined the climate. The raw ingredients (polyvinyl, carbon, additives and fillers) were taken out of the containers, and put on a conveyor belt.
       

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    The vinyl was "cooked" and continuously mixed in large heaters until it had the desired plasticity and density.

    Then it was "sliced" into long sheets and carried to yet another machine which pressed biscuits (pancakes or tablets) of a specific size and weight.
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  • The plates are mounted in a heavy metal rig similar to a waffle iron and precisely secured. Precision is one of the basics as no pressed record should be off center and every record should be completely flat.

     

     
    Vinyl is originally a colorless substance which can be colored as one wishes. Right from the start several 45 rpm 7 inch Remingtons were pressed from blue and red vinyl.
    Colored vinyl
    In the early years the releases on Remington were pressed at the Webster plant. At the time when most of these pictures were taken by Piasta Photography Studio (Webster, Massachusetts), the issues of Masterseal, Webster, Palace, Buckingham, Paris, Spin-O-Rama, and others were pressed at the Webster plant.
           

    The pictures on this page are from about 1957-1958, the dawning of the Stereo LP. By that time the vinyl was no longer the cheap mix of the early Remingtons but had more or less acquired the quality of the vinyl used by other companies.

    The vinyl biscuit is put in between two labels and between the two plates fixed in the pressing mold. Through a system of tubes steam is transported to the mold. The steam rises the temperature to approx. 284 or even 374 Fahrenheit (140 or 190 degrees Celsius) and 'liquifies' the vinyl. Way back then pressing a record was a manual labor. Today the modern record plants are pressing thousands of records in a practically fully automated process.

    record pressing


    Checking the sound quality of a series of pressings is done by picking one or more records at random from the batch of a pressed title. These records are evaluated and if they are OK, then it is presumed that the entire batch meets the set standard. If not.....

    The turntable here is the Rek-O-Kut T43 with two tonearms: the original Rek-O-Kut arm and the Audax Pro 16 tonearm from Audak. The Pro 16 is a unipivot design which was then described as a compass bearing. The speakers are difficult to identify as the styling of the fronts are what was regarded as modern and handsome designs in those days and could be of a variety of manufacturers.

    A visitor of The Remington Site identified the two amplifiers as being Bogen DB-114s. The 114 was a basic audio tube amp sold in retail shops. Here two mono amps are being used as power amps for mono and for stereo. The small tube amplifier in between the Bogens is probably the preamp. The Bogen DB-114 has buttons (switches) in between the large knobs to activate filters at various frequencies and for muting.

    The Bogen DB114 is a tube amplifier. The germanium diode was not yet in use. The Bogen had 3 x 12AX7, 2 x 6V6 for power, and for rectifier one 5Y3. There are 4 control knobs: a selector switch, the on-off plus volume knob, and variable bass and treble. And switches for Stereo/Mono, Rumble and Loudness. The Inputs were for Crystal Pick Ups as well as Moving Magnet cartridges.

    An Audax advertisement in the October 1956 issue of High Fidelity Magazine, explains the workings of the Audax KT-12 and KT-16 Compass-Pivoted Tone-Arms in KIT form. The Audak Company had an office in the same building where Don Gabor held office for a certain time: 500 Fifth Avenue, New York 36, N.Y.

           
    The Webster plant was not just a record pressing factory. The mill had also a department where the covers were printed, the front and back were cut to size and then glued together. Here a worker pours paint into a basin (reservoir) for printing sleeves on a press manufactured by Stokes & Smith Co. from Philadelphia.
           

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    A stack of cover fronts is being cut to size by an operator handling a "Sheridan New Model" cutting machine.
    Putting the ready LPs in a protective cellophane bag (jacket) is the finishing touch. This wrapping is necessary to protect the covers as the LP's will be sold at gas stations and in supermarkets as well.
           

    These three lovely ladies put the ordered records in cardboard boxes. The Masterseal LP with reference MS-50 with the recording of Peter Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto played by Michèle Auclair (Kurt Wöss conducting) is also shipped. It is the re-release of the early Remington R-199-20.

     
    Every week thousands and thousands of LP records were ready to be transported to companies who had ordered the pressings. Don Gabor's Remington (until 1958) and Masterseal, Webster, Buckingham and Paris LPs were shipped to shops, department stores, and gas stations.
    The important job of the finance department: sending invoices and checking the balance of payment of each and every retailer. Modern electrical calculators assisted the workers. The rest was done in a pure analog fashion, so to speak.
     
         

    In Billboard Magazine of February 16, 1959, it was announced that Don Gabor will sell the plant to Thompson Record Corporation. Gabor wanted to spend more time to his expanding disk business and invest more capital into its development. He will operate his business out of resident offices Billboard said.

    The deal would include the plants in Canada and Puerto Rico. One condition was that Gabor will have access to 50 percent of the pressing facilities.
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    The link at left should lead you to a CBS Sunday Morning report entitled "It's a turntable... Vinyl LP records - still spinning after 60 years!" But CBS deleted this instructional video. We regret this immensely as the report compiled by clever journalist Thalia Assuras was so well done. Recently it surfaced again as a somewhat altered video. CBS Sunday Morning - It's a Turntable.

    On YouTube is series of videos explaning how vinyl records are being made. This link leads you to the first episode of How Vinyl Records Are Made.

    Since Brooklyn Phono was featured in the original CBS Sunday Morning broadcast but was deleted in the 2nd edition, here is the link to view BROOKLYN PHONO

    In any case: you may want to visit this page:
    25 Years of Compact Disc.

    Page first published October 14, 2009.

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