Archives At The Victor Talking Machine

The files at the Victor Talking Machine Company cover the period between 1903 and 1958. These written records, which are gathered and kept meticulously, are among the world’s most important and extensive sources of primary discographic information ever available.

The files are organized into three main categories. The first is a daily log of recordings that were made on each day. The second is a file that the company has maintained for every important Victor artist. The third is an index card file (4 inches x 6 inches) that are kept and arranged in catalog number order. The Victor archives are said to be owned by Sony and are being kept in New York City.

The Recording Book

The archive has around 15,000 daily log pages which are chronologically numbered. Each page are titled as “Recording Book.” Likewise, each recording was given a “matrix number” as an identification number. When such recording is issued, it earns a “catalog number’ on the record label. This number is almost always different from the assigned matrix number.

The following are the information that are included in the daily log in most recordings:

  1. recording date
  2. matrix number
  3. recording title
  4. recording artist
  5. instrumentation (e.g. violin-L.Raderman-piano-N. Shilkret)
  6. publisher
  7. author, lyricist and composer
  8. take number (e.g. B 27413-3, third attempt, matrix B 27413)
  9. disposition (whether it’s “M” for master, “H” for hold, “D” for destroy); This information is handwritten and is entered after the entry was made.
  10. a date (It could be the date that the disposition was made.)

Additional information can also be seen in many recordings. These are:

  1. catalog number- written by hand after the entry was made
  2. city – indicates where the recording was made

Sony’s Victor Archives

As of 2010, the Victor Archives at Sony’s have pages that are dated at least until April 22, 1935. The original pages after this date may have been discarded. Nevertheless, Victor kept its ties with EMI in England which had more recent pages. Interestingly, the said pages were sent during that same period that they were originally written. Likewise, these pages have no annotations made thereafter.

The Index Cards

The index cards, which measured 4 inches by 6 inches, are placed on blue stock. For this reason, they are usually identified as “the blue cards.” This file contains around a quarter of a million cards that are arranged according to catalog number. It contains almost just as much the same information found on the daily log with some added information such as the date of master testing. At times, the blue card indicates record sales on the rear side.