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DougMacOffline
Post subject: How to Identify Berliiner Reproductions  PostPosted: Apr 04, 2013 - 12:10 PM
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First post! Hello everyone.

I've been collecting 78's for decades. I just bought a Berliner, just to have one in the collection, but I think what I bought was a reproduction. It's "The Owl and the Pussycat", Berliner 4287, Haydn Quartet.

How do you identify an original Berliner from a reproduction?

If it is a reproduction, it's OK. I didn't pay much for it (possible clue). It's a nice conversation piece, if nothing else.

Thanks for your help. I look forward to participating here.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 04:54 AM
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I'm not a Berliner expert, but I recently stumbled upon a collection of over 20 Berliner discs, so I've been reading up on them a lot. The little info I've found on the repros talk about the back surface having a bubbly appearance; the originals should look kind of smoothish on the back, and sometimes with light straight striations (similar in appearance to the circular striations on the back of one-sided Victrola discs). Another reference spoke about pirated copies (made way back in the day) that would scratch out the "Berliner Gramophone" text before the pirated negative was made, in an effort to get around copyright laws. Supposedly, these copies will look just like the real thing, but without the record company info.

It's interesting that yours is 4287, but the discography states this artist & title as 4284. It could be suspicious, but it could also be a result of their very convoluted catalog system (see the LOC link below). I hope you enjoy your new foray into the world of Berliners; I've had a lot of fun learning about this little pocket of record history, and I've only just scratched the surface.

Some of the good Berliner resources I've found so far:
Library Of Congress page (great info on their cataloging system): http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/berlhtml/berlreco.html#NS
Early Series Discography (1888-1899): http://www.78discography.com/Berliner.htm
"0" Series Discography (1899-1900): http://www.78discography.com/Berliner0.htm

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DougMacOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 08:30 AM
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AudioGasoline wrote:
The little info I've found on the repros talk about the back surface having a bubbly appearance; the originals should look kind of smoothish on the back, and sometimes with light straight striations (similar in appearance to the circular striations on the back of one-sided Victrola discs).

Thanks for the info! The bubbly back was my first suspicion I had a reproduction. I wish I could find out more about who and when the reproductions were made.

I have several early Victor records, all 10 inch, some pre-1905. One is a "Pre-Dog" label. I also have a Columbia "Pre Conditions" label.

The catalog number might have been a typo. I'll have to check. I've got Steven Barr's "Almost Complete 78 Record Dating Guide", which does not have any specific Berliner information.

I know there's a book on Berliner, but I don't plan to collect other than one or two representative samples.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 11:10 AM
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And that Berliner book isn't cheap either. Here's a photo of the back of a known repro, taken from an ebay listing (you can see the bubbliness of the surface., and a sheen that none of my originals have either). Click here to go to the listing and you can use the Zoom feature to see it up close.

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Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 11:26 AM
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I've never come across a Berliner out in the wild. But I'm still looking. Smile

There's a section dealing with Berliners in this book:

Collector's Guide to Victor Records
Michael W. Sherman

This is an excellent book loaded with color photographs of labels. It's available on Kurt Nauck's website:

http://www.78rpm.com/

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in researching Victor and RCA Victor 78s.

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DougMacOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 12:58 PM
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CactusCowboy wrote:
I've never come across a Berliner out in the wild. But I'm still looking. Smile

Thanks Dave, neither have I!

I actually started the search to help with a radio program (similar to yours) that I'm thinking about pitching to local public radio. My son knows the program director and thought doing a show using my collection would be fun.

I did a one off program a couple of years ago for Tennessee Public Radio. My family contributed to their campaign and the pledge gift was "DJ For an Hour". That show was a more comprehensive look at my love of music and contained more modern songs as well. I produced it on my PC and just mailed them a CD of it. The Tennessee Public Radio program director sent me a nice note sometime later, saying they got more response to my segment than any other "DJ For an Hour".

There's a ton of great music in my record collection room that only a handful of people ever hear. It just seems a shame.

BTW, we share another interest. My first degree was a B.F.A. in Photography from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I worked for nearly 25 years as a commercial photographer before swtching careers.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 02:16 PM
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CactusCowboy wrote:
I've never come across a Berliner out in the wild. But I'm still looking. Smile
You can imagine my shock when I came across 22 of them in a shoe box for a dollar Shocked (plus one of those 5" Little Wonder one-siders). They clearly had no idea what they were or how rare they are - one is cracked, but they're all real, all Early Series and nearly all have playable surfaces. One of my top 3 scores of all time, so far. Cool

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DougMacOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 05, 2013 - 03:03 PM
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[quote="AudioGasoline"]
CactusCowboy wrote:
One of my top 3 scores of all time, so far. Cool

Tell me about the other two!

I'll share one of my scores. I was in an antique store in Arkansas. There wasn't much I was interested in, and their prices were no bargains. I looked over at a table and there was a stack of 50 or so 78's. The first five or so were the typical 78's you see, Bing Crosby and the like. Then I ran into a Paramount label, then a Clara Smith, then a Bessie Smith, then an early Louis Armstrong. I kept digging and ran across "Black Snake Moan". They were all in pristine condition.

I tried not to hyperventilate and ambled up to the old gent behind the counter. "How much are your 78s?" He replied: "Them with the blue labels are one dollar. The rest are 75 cents. I went back and picked up the entire stack (minus the Bing Crosby duplicates). I laid down my cash and walked out with the best score I've had so far.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 06, 2013 - 12:21 AM
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Well, this probably takes the cake in terms of dollar value, but there have been other equaling exciting moments. One of my other favorite finds was at an estate sale; I hadn't seen any records, so I asked and they took me to a fruit box tucked under a table, still folded closed at the top and looking very old. Open it up and it's about 15 LPs, all Andres Segovia on Decca and early John Fahey, including the Spring '67 sampler and the black & white cover versions of his first two albums. Everything was VG+, but the Segovia stuff looked slightly nicer. He says a dollar a piece, I say 'how much for the box' and he says '10 bucks'. It looked like a fan collection, and I was happy to get it. It's still the only time I've encountered half of those albums in the wild.

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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Apr 06, 2013 - 01:27 PM
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Found some great photo threads at the Talking Machine Forum on all kinds of Berliner discs: label design changes, changes in disc materials, record sizes, examples from different countries, pirated examples from Zonophone & Vitaphone, and even a sub-master. Awesome stuff.

"Show Me Your Berliner Disc": http://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=953&hilit=berliner
"Berliner Records" (a few disc examples, and a bunch of advertising and literature scans): http://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3881&p=19372&hilit=berliner#p19372
"Since We're Talking About Berliners..." (all about the Zonophone counterfeits): http://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=929

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