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Records - Italian Pressings Revealed

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Stefano G., Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    As many Italian vinyl reach very high prices at on-line auctions, and because around the world there are many passionate collectors of Italian music, it seems only right, since I am Italian, give some informations to avoid throwing money away: in fact it is often very difficult to distinguish from subsequent editions the first pressings, unless you know some details that only those who frequent the collecting world in Italy may know.

    I will not say absolutely that the Italian sellers are all scammers and pretend Italian reissues for first editions: I'm just saying that often even those who collect Italian vinyl for many years, are unaware of these details that I'm going to list.

    The first thing to look at when you are about to buy an Italian vinyl, is the SIAE stamp; S.I.A.E. (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori) is the Italian institution for the protection of copyright and was founded at the starting of 1970.

    Therefore the first thing: if the vinyl you are about to buy has the SIAE logo stamped on its label, but for example was first released in 1968, can not be a first Italian press!

    Before SIAE was founded in 1970, on the Italian vinyl labels could be seen two different logos: BIEM or D.R.

    The BIEM logo (Bureau International des Sociétés Gérant les Droits d'Enregistrement et de Reproduction Mécanique) can be seen on Italian vinyl labels during the 60s, until the beginning of 1970.

    The D.R. logo (Diritti Riservati) was used from late 1966 until early 1970 (although very rarely you can also meet it later, in parallel with the logo of the SIAE)

    So, on Italian labels pressed between late 1966 and early 1970 you can meet either BIEM logo or D.R. logo.

    Here you can see an example about BIEM and D.R. logos:
    an image of BIEM logo, from the http://www.beatlesinitaly.it/ website:


    and an image of the D.R. logo:


    Then came the S.I.A.E., in the early months of 1970, with its unmistakable brand: at first time only with the word "SIAE" written on the label, then (since about spring 1970) with its circular logo.

    The word "SIAE" could be (or not) also enclosed by a frame:


    Beginning in the spring of 1970, we can finally see the round SIAE logo stamped on the label; there are three different kinds of round SIAE stamps.

    1) The first kind of SIAE stamp had a diameter of about 12/13 mm, could be in different colors (blue, purple, red, green and orange) and reported the word "SIAE" at the center, and all around the words " Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori - Roma " all in uppercase.
    This fist kind was in force from the spring of 1970 to the autumn of 1975.

    2) From mid-1975 until the spring of 1979, the SIAE stamp was similar to the previous, but slightly larger in size (about 15 mm in diameter), the word SIAE at the center was identical to the previous stamp, but in some cases had a small star to the left of the letter "S". In addition, the letter "S" in the word "Società" is reversed, and the letter "A" in the word "Autori" is in lowercase.

    3) Finally, in the fall of 1978 until 1996 does appear the third type of SIAE stamp, with the same characteristics of the second one, but the word SIAE has thicker letters and does not occupy the entire middle of the circle, leaving a space below that often does contain a number.

    In the image below you can see a reconstruction, made by a software, of the three different types (from left to right) of SIAE stamps: this is an artwork made by the friend Augusto Croce, who is surely the leading expert in the world, and big collector himself, about Italian progressive albums: http://www.italianprog.com/

    Thanks, Augusto!!


    Now, it's very important to note some things; the stamps of the first and second type also appear in parallel, from about the middle of 1975 until the autumn of the same year: regarding albums released in that period, can be found or the one or the other type of stamp: the transition from a stamp to another has not occurred within a day.
    For the same reason, the stamps of the second and third type appear in parallel from the autumn of 1978 until the spring of 1979.

    In 1996, the use of the stamps did stop and replaced with stickers.

    Now: why SIAE stamps are so important for collectors?

    Well: if you have for example an Italian copy of "Per un amico" with the 3rd kind SIAE stamp, you surely have a reissue from the 1978 or later; even if the catalog number and even if the matrix numbers are identical, doing a careful comparison with a copy that has the first kind of SIAE stamp (the correct one, for this album) you can surely notice some differences between the two different copies.

    That is why it is so important that collectors, before spending several hundred Euros, are aware of the different types of SIAE stamps. There are really very few cases in which two albums perfectly identical in every detail, have two types of different SIAE stamps: this could happen because, as we all know, the same mothers and the same stampers could also be used at a later date for pressing different issues, if they were not completely worn out.

    As a matter of fairness, I must point out that this very complex research required many years of study and comparison of thousands of vinyl; here are the names of those who participated over the years, in alphabetical order:

    Augusto Croce (http://www.italianprog.com/)
    Maurizio Fulvi
    Nino Gatti
    Roberto Mento (http://www.rockbottom.it/modx/)
    Paolo Montevecchi
    Augusto Rossi
    Stefano Tarquini (one of the biggest Pink Floyd expert and collector in the world: http://digilander.libero.it/mrpinky/ )

    ...and I !

    Hoping this thread will be helpful to someone.

    cmcintyre, Giorgio, zphage and 33 others like this.
  2. spaulding

    spaulding Hoi Polloi

    The Windy City
    Funny this thread should appear as about two weeks I purchased what I believe to my first Italian pressing - Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny.
    1976 - small stamp on right side of label with reversed 'S' on 'Societa.' It was distributed by Base Records in Italy.
    Still has Gull Records info and from what I've read here the same stamper info as British pressings.

    More importantly - this is my third pressing of this record and it's my favorite.
  3. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    The Italian press of "Sad wings of destiny" is not a problem: is an album that does not have a high value (in Euro) ; the real problems arise when we talk about Italian albums that reach very very high value....
  4. EasterEverywhere

    EasterEverywhere Forum Resident

    I know all this.Maybe you can tell me about some of the classical violinists who recorded exclusively for RCA Italiania in the 60s,and just why their records are so valuable and sought after.
  5. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    This research, with all these details, was completed less than two years ago and this is the first time that it is published in English.

    Then: many Italian vinyls, are very rare due to the fact that were pressed in a few copies: probably the pressing-plants used directly the father to press vinyl and, when the father were totally consumed, they stopped to press the album; I can also say that, regarding the Italian RCA, for the period around the early 70s the regular labels are rarer than the white-labels-promo: It may seem strange, but so it is.
    9 Volt and EasterEverywhere like this.
  6. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Another very important thing: on the Italian vinyl trail-off, we can almost always read a date (day / month / year): this date is the date on which there was the lacquer-cutting; the two sides of the vinyl may have etched the same date or even two different dates; this depends on the fact, of course, that starting from each lacquer the pressing-plant could be able to press a different number of vinyl: there are always two lacquers per album: one lacquer for the side A and the other for the side B: the lacquer is cut only on one side, while the other side remains untouched.

    So: paying attention to the album first release date, to the dates etched in the trail-off and to the SIAE stamp type, we have all the elements to determine if the vinyl that we have in our hands is or is not a first Italian press.
    9 Volt and Historicus like this.
  7. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Yo-Yoing where I will...

    Brooklyn New York
    Thank you for this valuable information!
    Stefano G. likes this.
  8. dachada

    dachada Maracalp

    I have many Italian LP and the most import detail for me is the pressing plant and year. In my experience the product quality changes a lot depending of the pressing plant and year.
    Stefano G. likes this.
  9. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Yes, it's OK if you look for audio quality (though I really think that Italian vinyl are not for audiophiles...); but if you are just a collector who looks at the first pressings (and very often the first Italian issues are very expensive, just take a look at the prices that have prog-rock albums and soundtracks on Italian vinyl), you may also find useful other details.

    However: is there some Italian vinyl that you particularly liked for its pressing quality? I personally think that Italian versions of all Led Zeppelin albums are very good, for example....
  10. utenteanonimo64

    utenteanonimo64 Well-Known Member

    This is probably off-topic and I am not a vinyl collector but I remember as a teenager I must have had hundreds of records with the words "mastered by Piero Mannucci" etched on the vinyl.

    Stefano, have you got any idea how many RCA records the guy has cut? It must be thousands... I think I still have some of the Bowie Italian pressings from the 70s with his name on them...
  11. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    ParloFax likes this.
  12. dachada

    dachada Maracalp

    Some example.:
    70s Polydor and Philips LPs are good but I found 80s repressing mastered with thin and bright sound

    Early 70s RCA/Numero Uno LPs are a little bit dull IMO. Mid-Late 70s repressing have more detailed sound. They also pressed lp for labels as Ultima Spiaggia

    Cetra/ Fonit LPs quality was great around mid 70s. They also pressed lp for labels as Grog, Magma second period, TRident

    Cinevox 80s repressing are better that the original pressings except for a few pressed by Cetra

    70s Dischi Ricordi pressing are very good and also pressed lps for labels like Cramps but avoid the Orizzonte reissues because they used bad quality vinyl.
    albertop, izgoblin and Stefano G. like this.
  13. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    I'm glad you're so informed about Italian issues! the only thing to point out: Orizzonte re-issues are still sought after by collectors, often because they had a different cover than the first edition one.
  14. dachada

    dachada Maracalp

    Piero Mannucci I think started with RCA mid 70s
    In many cases Orizzonte re-issues LP are from original stampers but sadly the vinyl quality is not good. Example BMS- Darwin
    Stefano G. likes this.
  15. dachada

    dachada Maracalp

    Well albums in LP like Area-Tic Tac and Roberto Colombo - Sfogatevi bestie are very audiophile to me
    Stefano G. likes this.
  16. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Well, for completeness of information regarding Italian issues: when you find an Italian copy with the catalog number preceded by the letter W this copy was pressed by Italian WEA (Warner, Elektra, Atlantic) : the letter W does indicate that it's an Italian WEA press; In Italy, WEA was founded in 1975: therefore if your copy shows the letter W printed on the label and/or near the catalog number, this fact does mean was pressed in the second half of the 70s or even later. An example: Italian WEA issue of Led Zeppelin IV with catalog number W50008 (it's surely not an Italian first press...).
    9 Volt likes this.
  17. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    An example: this copy shows the 2nd type SIAE stamp and has the catalog number preceded by the letter W: this is a copy pressed between 1975 and 1978.


    The following, instead, shows the 3rd type SIAE stamp: this copy was pressed in 1979 or later.

    Historicus likes this.
  18. socorro

    socorro Forum Resident


    Can you add any information about when the MECOLICO mark was used in Italy?
    EasterEverywhere likes this.
  19. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Sorry, I've never done this research....:shrug:
  20. Neonbeam

    Neonbeam All Art Was Once Contemporary

    Planet Earth
    That was a very interesting read, thank you! I only have two Italian pressings, a Siouxsie album and Black Sabbath's "Sabotage" that I bought because apparently Italy still had the Swirl design in 1975.
    Stefano G. likes this.
  21. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Many thanks Neonbeam. Really.

    This research lasted many years, attended by the people I have already mentioned, and ended less than two years ago thanks to the important contribution of Roberto Mento (with regard to the SIAE stamp; whereas with regard to the study of the dates etched in the trail-off, has been of great help the contribution of Augusto Croce).

    Another detail: often, in Italian vinyl trail-off we can see a Roman numeral next to the date: here, after another research, we came to the conclusion that the Roman numeral indicates the master-tape used for the lacquer-cutting: if we have in our hands an Italian press of foreign (not Italian) artist (such as Pink Floyd), the Roman numeral I indicates the copy of the master-tape sent to Italy from the United Kingdom; if instead we have the Roman numeral II, then it is the copy (copied in Italy) of the master-tape sent to Italy from the UK and so on. I had to stop this research (about Roman numeral) for several reasons, but I'm almost sure that things are this way.
    Naturally, if the vinyl that is in our hands is an Italian press of an Italian artist, the Roman numeral I does indicate the original master-tape...
  22. EasterEverywhere

    EasterEverywhere Forum Resident

    Since this is sort of an all purpose Italian records thread,what can you tell me about Expanded Music?I have two copies here of In The Flat Field by Bauhaus.One is a UK 4AD "The Cutting Room Floor...".The other is an Italian pressing on a unique looking label called Epanded Music 4AD.Dated 29.6.81.This is the only record I have seen on this label.It's number EX-5.
  23. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    This link maybe useful:

  24. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    Wanting to be picky, and we well know that collectors are fussy, the photo I chose to explain the SIAE stamp is much more interesting than it seems at first sight: it shows the SIAE stamp of the second type and the catalog number preceded by the letter W, but along the perimeter of the label does not appear the Warner logo:



    The famous Warner logo, did appear in Italy in 1975 along the labels' perimeter (of Italian WEA vinyl, naturally); therefore this specific copy (no Warner logo but 2nd SIAE stamp type) was pressed in the period of transition between the labels without the logo Warner (prior to 1975) and the labels with the Warner logo (labels printed in 1975 or later): at that time, in Italy there was the change of the type of SIAE stamp, too (disappeared the stamp of the first type and appeared the stamp of the second one); then taking into account these details, we can say that this particular copy was pressed in Italy around the middle of 1975 and not much later.

    It's superfluous to say, as collectors well know, that WEA included vinyl pressed by the three famous labels Warner, Elektra and Atlantic, but also their various sublabels such as Asylum, Reprise etc ....

    It is really a very significant example how should be used the information I gave in this thread.
    The photo of this label is truly very important.

    I hope everything is clear.
    9 Volt and Historicus like this.
  25. Stefano G.

    Stefano G. Ab alto, speres alteri quod feceris. Thread Starter

    In particular, I came to this explanation because I noticed cases where one and the same Roman numeral is combined with different dates (in the context of different editions of the same album): in fact, the simplest and most logical explanation as to give meaning to Roman numerals stamped in the trail-off of many Italian records, would be that these numbers would indicate the ordinal number of lacquer: so the Roman numeral I indicates the first lacquer, the Roman numeral IV indicates the fourth lacquer and so on; but the fact of finding the exact same Roman numeral stamped next to different dates (and these dates do indicate the date of the mastering job), led me to conclude that actually the Roman numeral indicates the master-tape source used for the cutting job.
    Historicus likes this.

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