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ATLANTIC / ATCO vinyl labels and deadwax - what do the codes mean?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by TLMusic, May 5, 2012.

  1. Perisphere

    Perisphere Forum Resident

    It seems the numbers were consecutive, with a different prefix for the two labels, A for Atlantic, C for Atco.

    One oddball Atlantic I own is SD 1293, whose matrix numbers are ST-A-11543 and ST-A-11544. (I don't have a mono copy of 1293 to determine if only the prefix is different.)
    TLMusic likes this.
  2. Perisphere

    Perisphere Forum Resident

  3. ElektricG

    ElektricG New Member

    Southern Calif
    Thanks for the info.............You're correct, all 4 sides show MO after the matrix numbers so that's cleared up
    but :rolleyes: the runoff still does have PR stamped....albeit lighter than the other stamped characters and it is AC in a circle so I'm still confused. Does the later label ie:Rockefeller Plaza mean it is not a first pressing ? Every source I could find stated if it had the Unipak design and the postcards it was a first pressing and my copy has them.
    Thanks for your help.
  4. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    PR or PRC or (PR) in the deadwax stands for Philips Recording Co. (maker of metal parts from lacquers)--this doesn't seem to have much if any correlation with the pressing plant that actually pressed the vinyl.

    The 75 Rockefeller labels mean your copy is not the very first pressing. However, it could have been made as early as 1973. By the way, does your copy have a WB logo in the perimeter text?
    McLover likes this.
  5. ElektricG

    ElektricG New Member

    Southern Calif
    No WB in perimeter text.............what does that refer to ?
  6. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter


    WB is the Warner Brothers logo, which appears on US Atlantic record labels starting around 1975. If your records don't have the logo on the labels, but do have the 75 Rockefeller address, that suggests they were made sometime between 1973 and 1975.

    Here's a site with nice scans of different Atlantic labels:
  7. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

  8. ElektricG

    ElektricG New Member

    Southern Calif
    Thanks, I appreciate all your time.
    TLMusic likes this.
  9. sofff

    sofff Well-Known Member

    First of all: this thread ROCKS :D
    As you can imagine It helped me a lot when i was looking for infos about my pressings.

    Now, i may be able to help a little bit:
    There was a code i couldn't identify on my Dusty Springfield "A Brand New Me" (White label).
    Side 1
    Label : ST-A-691727 PR
    DeadWax: ST-A-691727-B LW AT aB W
    Side 2
    Label : ST-A-691728 PR
    DeadWax: ST-A-691728-B LW AT aB W

    After some google-ing i found this thread http://www.discogs.com/help/forums/topic/324904 , and according to it, aB (not AB!) would be the code for an Al Brown Mastering :
    There's a picture of the etching that looks exactly like mine :thumbsup:
    McLover and TLMusic like this.
  10. mickster

    mickster Forum Resident

    boonton, NJ, USA
    Looking for info on a Led Zep III I found this weekend:
    *the cover has no "Atlantic 7201" in fact the only writing is on the spine
    *the label matrix: ST-A-702005 DCE
  11. mickster

    mickster Forum Resident

    boonton, NJ, USA
    It's the standard wheel cover except that there is no Atlantic logo with the 7201 on the bottom right. Broadway on the label.
  12. jeffmissinne

    jeffmissinne Forum Resident

    I'm looking at a Columbia House copy of the Laura Branigan LP "Touch" on Atlantic; the deadwax has what looks like a large, somewhat "sloppy" capital G with a smaller (either) capital I or numeral 1 to its right (just a straight line.) Is this a Columbia marking or someone else's?
  13. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    The 'G' signified a pressing by Columbia's Carrollton, GA plant; the 'I' afterwards was carried over from Terre Haute, IN.
  14. nicotinecaffeine

    nicotinecaffeine Forum Resident

    Walton, KY
    68 = last two digits of the year Atlantic first received source (tape) and started working on mastering

    Excellent fact, there. Explains to me why LZ1, Fragile, Pictures At An Exhibition, Islands and Tales all have the preceding year's digits in the ST-A, while plainly marked in the mid-right corner on the label below the "stripe" or on the jacket the following year. I'm sure there's many others like that, but those are the ones that come to mind.

    Actually took a look at the deadwax for the first time on an album, recently. Yes Fragile - PORKY. I was rather stoked. Although, the 1972 Atlantic copyright stamp right below the white stripe seems to illustrate it's Porky as well, because my copy of Islands has the same stamp and has Porky in the deadwax also. Other Atlantic 1972's have a smaller font and aren't Porky...so, I'm inclined to believe that stamp alone on the label indicates a difference. Err, something.

    Might take a look at my Pictures and Trilogy Cotillions, now that I think of it - which both have the same stamp as the Porky Fragile and Islands and see if those also coincide. The Cotillion Trilogy blows the doors off of my Atlantic CRC copy in the ways of clarity and volume, that's for damn sure.

    By the way, I illustrate all of this rather clumsily because I'm just beginning to know what you guys mean here with all of the deadwax and label details to decipher better copies versus mid-grade ones. Glad to know all of these facts because it will allow me to get the good stuff instead of just grabbing any old copy and ending up with a dud.

    In short, I have my forum training wheels still on and they aren't coming off anytime soon.

    End of rant.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
    EasterEverywhere likes this.
  15. jeffmissinne

    jeffmissinne Forum Resident

  16. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter




    Record company codes (the letters after "ST")

    A = Atlantic Records
    C = Atco
    CAP = Capricorn
    CTN = Cotillion Records LPs
    CO = Cotillion Records 45s
    FC = Famous Charisma
    SS = Swan Song
    AS = Asylum
    MC = Manticore
    RS = Rolling Stones Records
    VR = Virgin records early 1970s (Mike Oldfield) Virgin later switched from Atlantic to CBS and then back to Atlantic.
    VA = Virgin late 70 (XTC, The Motors, The Flying Lizards etc.) Not sure why they switched to VA, maybe it meant Virgin-Atlantic or Virgin-America
    VR = Virgin mid 80s (Steve Winwood, Paula Abdul)
    BT = Big Tree records Doug Morris' (current head of Sony Music) label which he followed to Atlantic from Ampex and Bell.

    Pressing plant codes for LPs:

    PR = Presswell Records Mfg. Co., Ancora, NJ (they handled most of Atlantic's LP's during much of this period)
    LY = Shelley Products, Huntington Station, NY
    SP = Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA
    MO = Monarch Record Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, CA
    PL = Plastic Products, Inc., Memphis, TN
    RI = Philips Recording Co., Richmond, IN
    AR = Allied Record Co., Inc., Los Angeles, CA
    CT or CTH = Columbia, Terra Haute, IN
    CP = Columbia (Pitman, NJ)
    CS or CSM = Columbia (Santa Maria, CA; very infrequently)
    BW = Bestway Plastics, Mountainside NJ
    SO = Sonic Recording Products, Holbrook, N
    MG = MGM Record Mfg. Division, Bloomfield, NJ (a brief period in late 1968)
    ME = ?
    FT= ?

    LP label example (Led Zeppelin I)



    ST = stereo
    A = Atlantic Records label
    68 = last two digits of the year Atlantic first received source (tape) and started working on mastering
    1461 = tape master number (for side one in this example)
    PR = Presswell pressing plant


    CUTTING LETTERS (following the tape master number in the deadwax):
    These letters indicate the lacquer cutting for that particular pressing, with A being the first, and B the second, and so on.

    An additional letter, always the same letter as the first cutting letter (but usually fainter) sometimes appears on Monarch pressings. Two additional letters, always the same letters as the first (usually fainter) may appear on RI pressings. These extra letters indicate an additional metal part made from the lacquer.

    Also, on "AR" pressings, the cutting letter is replaced with a handwritten delta symbol.

    For some promotional cuts with different banding and mastering, the cutting letter is replaced by "DJ"


    AT = Mastered by/for Atlantic

    aB = Al Brown Mastering :
    http://www.discogs.com/artist/Al Brown (5)

    (handwritten) = mastered by George Piros at Atlantic

    AT/DK (handwritten) = mastered by Dennis King at Atlantic

    ATLANTIC STUDIOS DK (stamped) = mastered by Dennis King at Atlantic

    RG = Rob Grennell, mastering engineer for Atlantic in the late 60s

    RL = Robert Ludwig, mastering engineer
    LH = Lee Hulko, mastering engineer

    STERLING (stamped) = Sterling Sound, New York City mastering facility

    SS (etched) = Sterling Sound, New York City mastering facility
    PR or PRC or (PR) = Philips Recording Co. (maker of metal parts from lacquers)

    LW or LWP = LongWear Plating (maker of metal parts from lacquers)

    MG = MGM Record Mfg. Division in Bloomfield, NJ
    AMP = ABC-Paramount
    M = Mercury
    RCA = RCA Victor (on some contract pressings of Elvis' 1956 smash hits)

    Records pressed by Specialty Records Corp. will have a stamped logo in the deadwax, consisting of a 'R' and 'C' intertwined in a larger letter 'S'. Also, records pressed at Specialty may contain a hand etched date in the deadwax. The date represents when the record was either plated at Specialty, or the date they received the lacquer from the mastering studio (there was a time in the 1971-72 period when that plant wrote dates on the deadwax of many a lacquer, both on LP's and 45's; this practice apparently didn't last all that long).

    Lastly, records made by Monarch will have a stamped circle with "MR" in it, and numbers preceded by a delta sign. As for numbers with the delta symbol on the deadwax - this apparently originated with the company that did plating on the West Coast (Alco Research & Engineering in Los Angeles), and their system was used by a host of L.A.-area plants including their own, plus Monarch and another plant called AFM Engineering.


    sometimes with dots near it.

    (this part needs clarification and expanding)

    Mono LPs have a matrix beginning with "SD" followed by consecutive numbers , with a different prefix for the two labels, A for Atlantic, C for Atco

    P.S. Eventually I'd like to explore the UK Atlantic pressings some time soon, including the Polydor "Plum" label pressings, and the later "Kinney" pressings.:wave:

    Everyone please feel free to make corrections and add information.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
  17. LeeVing

    LeeVing Senior Member

    Salem, Oregon
    It was My understanding that (PR) and PRC were 2 different companies.

    (PR) - Philips Recording Comp., New York City, NY

    PRC - PRC Recording Corp., Richmond, IN (and later Compton, CA)

    Seems odd to name a company Philips Recording Company Recording Corporation.
  18. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    Very interesting. Any further details would be great. So you're saying that once Atlantic stopped getting their metal work (mothers, stamper) from Longwear (this happened around 1970), Atlantic then used two different Philips companies, one in New York, and the other in Indiana?

  19. LeeVing

    LeeVing Senior Member

    Salem, Oregon
  20. LeeVing

    LeeVing Senior Member

    Salem, Oregon
    Now...I could be wrong about these being 2 different companies.

    I'm just trying to help get the right info out and to stop everyone over on Discogs to stop putting Presswell on every entry that has PR or (PR) somewhere in the deadwax.
  21. Arkoffs

    Arkoffs Northside bulldog

    Earlier in the thread WB mentioned seeeing a Led Zeppelin II with DCE, and that it was a Decca pressing of some sort. That got missed as far as adding it to the plant codes. I'm listening to a DCE copy of II right now; it's actually a really good sounding mastering. Definitely not the high/low-end rolled off mess that most 1841 Broadway copies tend to be (other than RL, of course). I wish this one wasn't beat.

    On the unknown codes: Doesn't W stand for Waddell?
  22. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    Many thanks for your input.

    Who (or what) is "Waddell"?
  23. Arkoffs

    Arkoffs Northside bulldog

  24. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter


    I am not sure that "W" stand for Waddell. According to the Discos info, Waddell is a pressing plant. If so, why would Waddell be indicated on Atlantic LPs with various pressing plants codes on the label? Also, Discogs says the W is stamped. The "W" in the deadwax of late 1960s Atlantic LPs is handwritten, sometimes with four dots drawn around it.

    The "W" can be found on Atlantic releases with handwritten deadwax, Buffalo Springfield, Led Zeppelin I and Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man, are examples off the top of my head. I've never seen it on LPs with stamped Columbia deadwax. My guess is that the W indicates a mastering engineer or a location where mastering was done. Is there are reason to suspect that Waddell provided mastering services for East and West Coast Atlantic Records releases?

    Thanks again! Maybe someone knows this...
  25. Arkoffs

    Arkoffs Northside bulldog

    Nope, I've never seen the W on Columbia ones either ... but that makes sense, since the Columbia Atlantic family pressings were often (always?) mastered by Columbia. As far as the machine stamped vs. handwritten notation on Discogs, I'd guess that's just a nomenclature mistake.

    If I remember the ones I've seen in the past: Does the W with the dots show up in conjunction with Bell Sound/Sam Feldman cuts?

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