Who wants to compile a list of pressing plant initials?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by James Glennon, Aug 10, 2004.

  1. James Glennon

    James Glennon Senior Member Thread Starter

    Dublin, Ireland
    I have found out a lot about mastering houses through the dead wax information.

    The recent thread on AT pressing started this notion, when 'W.B.' answered in depth the different Atlantic pressing houses which was very interesting.

    Does anybody want to give a list of the intials that appears on the dead wax, re: the pressing plants of Warner Brothers, Asylum for starters.

    Go on somebody make a lot of vinyl lovers happy.

  2. ivor

    ivor Forum Resident

    Could you start us off by pasting some of W.B.'s comments?

    Steve posted this note from Kevin Gray in this thread:
  3. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Here's W.B.'s post from the Yes - Time And A Word - Atlantic "AT" LP pressing thread. :thumbsup:
  4. James Glennon

    James Glennon Senior Member Thread Starter

    Dublin, Ireland
    Here's a start

    Capitol Records were pressing records in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in Los Angeles, California, and in Jacksonville, Illinois. In the early 1970s, they opened a pressing plant in Winchester, Virginia, that eventually replaced the Scranton, Pennsylvania plant.

    Pressing plant indicators:
    1. A machine stamped triangle with the initials IAM indicates that the record was pressed at the Scranton, Pennsylvania plant.
    2. A star (*) indicates that the record was pressed at the Los Angeles, California plant.
    3. An 0, either stamped or hand written, indicates that the record was pressed at the Jacksonville, Illinois plant.
    4. A line that branches into a V at the end (looks like a long stemmed wine glass) was supposed to be a Winchester rifle and indicates that the record was pressed at the Winchester, Virginia plant.

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  5. AtcoFan

    AtcoFan Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, USA
  6. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    According to Bruce Spizer's books on Beatles' Capitol and Apple releases, the Winchester plant actually started operations in late 1969. Starting in 1970-71, Capitol de-emphasized their own pressings in Scranton, to the point that by 1973 the only pressings emanating from there were from custom clients such as Polydor, Brunswick and the Famous labels (Dot, Paramount, Sire etc.). Among the final pressings on Capitol and affiliated labels to originate from Scranton included the 45's of "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy, "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?" by Hurricane Smith, "Hi Hi Hi" by Wings; and the LP The Beatles 1967-1970 (a.k.a. "The Blue Album"; the latter two on Apple). Later in '73, Capitol unloaded the Scranton plant onto a Pittsburgh company called North American Music Industries (NAMI), which carried on many of Capitol Custom's old clients and added a few others along the way over the years (i.e. Bang). Ironically, they pressed some Capitol LP's and 45's during 1976 on a subcontracting basis. The plant finally died around the time of the late '70's-early '80's sales slump.
    Again per Mr. Spizer, "IAM" stood for the International Association of Machinists' union whose members worked at the Scranton plant. It first took effect on Scranton pressings around February, 1963. Prior to then (and after NAMI's takeover), an abstract anvil-type symbol was used.
    Lacquers for Warner Bros. releases that were pressed by Capitol had the following codes on the lacquer numbers:
    - JW - for Jacksonville
    - LW - for Los Angeles
    - WW - for Winchester (evidently, the 'W' in the second position was Warner)
    Because the Scranton plant was by then in NAMI's hands, the code they used for them was "NM."

    And from the time of Capitol's 1968 reorganization as "A Subsidiary of Capitol Industries, Inc.", 45's began adding 360 interlocking serrations onto their pressings, to the point that they shrunk the 45 label size from the standard 3 5/8" to 3 5/16". After NAMI's takeover of the Scranton plant, that company was the only independent pressing plant to: a) use that smaller label size, and b) have the 360 interlocking serrations.

    I will mention other pressings in another response on this thread.
    pudgym and Stefano G. like this.
  7. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Now, where was I? . . . oh, yes . . .

    Prior to the late 1960's, most Altantic LP's and 45's (and pressings for some other labels) bore the initials "LW." That denoted the LongWear Stamper Co. which manufactured metal parts for the industry. Audio Matrix of the Bronx was another company that made metal parts.

    Another major company, of course, was Columbia. During the period from the mid-1960's to the early '80's the label maintained three pressing plants: in Pitman, N.J.; in Terre Haute, Ind. (home of Columbia House); and in Santa Maria, Calif. Pitman pressings up to the early 1980's had a stamped "P", usually to the right of the lacquer number; 6:00 away (at least up to the early '70's), they would have a stamped number indicating (I.I.N.M.) the amount of metal mothers made up to that point (i.e. '2' if 45 or 'A2' if LP). Copies from Terre Haute had an etched "T"; the 45's followed that with a row of "I"'s (i.e. "TIIIIIIIIII" indicated 10 metal mothers made from one lacquer). Santa Maria-made 45's had a similar system, only with multiple "S's" (i.e. "SSSSSSSSSS"). LP's from there had a backwards "S," usually to the right of the lacquer number; their mold codes were similar to Pitman-made LP's. The codes from some mastering houses can be deciphered thus:
    - P or CP - Pitman, NJ
    - T, TH, CT or CTH - Terre Haute, IN
    - S, SM, CS or CSM - Santa Maria, CA
    In the 1980's, Columbia opened a new plant in Carrollton, GA. An etched "G" was present on all lacquers that went there, and A&M lacquers had a "C" code (i.e. A+M-xxxxx-C1) for that newer plant. Vinyl manufacturing there ceased in 1991.

    And then there was RCA. Up to the late 1960's their custom division was hot stuff. A stamped or etched "R" denoted a pressing from Rockaway, NJ (closed early 1973; among the final pressings from there included 45's of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," RCA 74-0876, and Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side," RCA 74-0887), a stamped "I" from Indianapolis, IN (pressed LP's and 45's right up to 1987), and an "H" from Hollywood, CA (closed 1976; their RCA pressings still used the orange label while Indianapolis moved over to tan). Post-1979 A&M releases pressed by the company had an "RCA" or "IND" code embedded in the lacquer number (i.e. A+M xxxxxxx-RCA1 or ...-IND1). F'rinstance, all Fantasy LP's and 45's of the time of Creedence Clearwater Revival's heyday were pressed by RCA. Most mastering was handled by RCA's Hollywood studios.

    And then, there was Decca/MCA. Up to the end of 1972, they used a stick "1" to indentify pressings from Gloversville, NY, and a "2" to identify Pickneyville, IL pressings. (The first MCA single, "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John, used either such code.) Come the start of 1973, and the insignia used by each plant changed overnight: []-G-[] for Gloversville, <>-P-<> for Pickneyville.

    Aside from Monarch, the other big independent pressing plant familiar to pressing aficionados was PRC Recording Corp. of Richmond, IN. The company was previously known as Philips Recording Corp. (hence, the initials) prior to PolyGram's unloading the plant in 1972. Prior to '71 it had been Mercury/Richmond Pressings ("RR" or "MR"). Different companies used different codes; besides Atlantic and their designation, Elektra used "PRC" while London used "PH" (for Philips) and Mercury used "PR." And as with Monarch and Columbia, PRC was heavy on styrene for their 45's. Around 1976-77, they opened another plant in Compton, Calif. Thereafter, codes used were PRC-R or PRC-C.

    If anyone else has queries about other pressing codes, feel free to ask.
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  8. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    These is great -- thanks, folks.

    Would also like to hear opinions of plants that in general are known for having pressed the best / middling / worst vinyl. For instance, I was told by the record grader for a large used vinyl store here in L.A. that the Hollywood (identified by an * ) Capitol pressings were the worst-sounding U.S. Beatles pressings.

    Don't know if he knew what he was talking about or not, 'cause there seemed to be other fairly common Beatles pressing knowledge he didn't know -- i.e., he didn't know that the German MMT had the only true stereo mixes and best sound.
  9. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I don't know about worst in that respect . . . but for typesetting on the label copy, insofar as original LP rainbow-band/45 swirl Capitol labels, I prefer the Scranton pressings. That plant largely used typesetting from Keystone Printed Specialties Co., Inc., also based in Scranton. The L.A. plant largely used fonts from Bert-Co Press of Los Angeles, which I'm not as fond of. I've spoken to a record collector who actually told me he considered the Bert-Co fonts on Capitol swirl-label 45's "too generic" as related to the fonts used by Keystone.

    But as for absolute worst-sounding vinyl . . . hands down, that'd be American Record Pressing (ARP) of Owosso, MI. Their 45's had so much surface noise, you'd think you were listening to a 78, and most of their 45's were pretty heavy and thick compared with 45's from other plants. Their main clients included Motown and Vee-Jay. In their last four years or so (the plant closed in 1972 after a warehouse fire), ARP was a subsidiary of Viewlex which owned the Buddah labels at the time, and so also pressed for all the labels affiliated with that company. Their labels were distinguished by the left side of the label copy justified left, and the right side justified right, with only the title, writer and artist on the bottom and the rest of the label copy stuffed on each side - sometimes drowning out the label background.

    And I've listened to RCA-pressed 45's from the mid-'60's to mid-'70's (not only RCA itself, but its custom clients, i.e. Fantasy, Roulette) which also had noticeable surface noise -- not as bad as ARP, but still enough to affect one's listening experience. Hold one of their pressings up to a flashlight, and the black vinyl appears to be of a somewhat dark sepia-ish color. Hollywood-pressed 45's, in the late '60's, were somewhat thicker than those of either Rockaway, NJ or Indianapolis, IN.
    McLover and pudgym like this.
  10. James Glennon

    James Glennon Senior Member Thread Starter

    Dublin, Ireland
    Brilliant! Well Done!

    Well done W.B.

    There's me thinking I knew something about the vinyl LP, I asked for a list, I got a masterclass.

    Now that I have got a handle on some of the pressing plant codes. How about a list of the best to worst (supposedly) pressing plants!

    I am a lazy sod you know, I love when other people 'give' me the information.
  11. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    I would like to add Liberty Records and its affiliated labels as one of the main custom clients for RCA's pressing plants during the '60s. In fact, much of Liberty's and Imperial's '60s vinyl output was pressed at RCA (both LP's and 45's) and Monarch (45's). That was in contrast to the '50s Liberty output (most of the '50s Liberty pressings were made by Capitol).

    Motown used (in addition to ARP) Columbia (in the early years) and RCA (the later part of the '60s and into the early '70s).

    Laurie Records (the label that brought you Dion and The Belmonts, The Chiffons and the US releases of Gerry and The Pacemakers stuff) used RCA and Columbia (the first Laurie 45 - "I Wonder Why" b/w "Teen Angel" by Dion and The Belmonts - was pressed by RCA, then most of the '50s and early '60s Laurie material was pressed by Columbia, before switching back to RCA for the remainder of the '60s, though there were a few exceptions).

    Finally, to the best of my knowledge all of the Cadence singles and LPs (the label of The Everly Brothers and The Chordettes) were pressed by Columbia and RCA.

    As for which pressing plants remain in operation, I know of at least five: Capitol's Jacksonville, IL plant (EMI Mfg.), Columbia's Terre Haute, IN plant (now DADC), PRC's Richmond, IN plant (later PMDC, and today UML) and Specialty Records' Olyphant, PA plant (now WEA Manufacturing) - all pressing CDs these days for EMI, Sony Music, UMG and WEA, respectively. Also, MCA's Gloversville, NY pressing plant now presses the 180-gram Sundazed vinyl reissues.

    Hope this adds to your recollection. :)

    Of all the rainbow-band and swirl-label Capitol original '60s pressings in my possession so far (the Beach Boys LPs The Beach Boys Today! and Pet Sounds; the Beach Boys 45 "Good Vibrations" b/w "Let's Go Away For Awhile"; the Beatles LP Magical Mystery Tour), only the 45 was pressed at Scranton, PA. My rainbow-label LPs were pressed at different plants: The Beach Boys Today! was pressed by Decca (in Gloversville, NY I believe); Pet Sounds was pressed at Los Angeles, CA; MMT was pressed at Jacksonville, IL. My other two original '60s LPs manufactured and distributed by Capitol - the Starline LP copy of Best Of The Beach Boys and the Brother Records issue of The Beach Boys LP Smiley Smile - were both pressed at Capitol's Scranton, PA plant. But no matter which plant pressed those '60s original Capitols, only the Decca-pressed Beach Boys Today LP used lacquers cut in NYC; all of my other original Capitols used lacquers cut in LA.

    As for my only two '50s Capitol original pressings (Benny Goodman's B.G. In Hi-Fi and Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool), both were pressed at Scranton, PA using lacquers cut in LA. My copy of Nat King Cole's Unforgettable LP, however, was a mid-'60s Starline reissue that's a weird one: Its labels used fonts from Keystone Printed Specialties Co., Inc. - but the actual vinyl pressing was made at Jacksonville, IL, with Side 1 having been cut from new lacquers made in NYC and Side 2 having reused an old stamper first used on LA pressings of that same LP.

    By the way, all of my '50s and '60s vintage Capitol vinyl is mono, except for MMT (which is stereo). I avoid original Duophonic pressings altogether.
  12. john lennonist

    john lennonist There ONCE was a NOTE, PURE and EASY...

    I'm not positive about all of the following, but most of it, I believe, is accurate. Feel free to correct me...

    Mastering houses and pressing plants:

    "TLM" / "TLM-S" / "TLM-M" / "TLM-X" = The Mastering Lab (Los Angeles) -- one of the best pressing plants ever. Not sure what the "-S/-M/-X" indicate.

    MASTERDISK (New York) -- many of Robert Ludwig's masterings were cut here

    TOWNHOUSE LONDON -- very good pressings... apparently tube gear used here

    STERLING = Sterling Sound (New York) -- often very good pressings, no?

    KENDUN = Kendun Recorders (California)

    [BIG "S" with a small "R" inside the top loop of the "S" and a small "C" on the bottom loop of the "S"] = SPECIALTY -- often very good pressings. This plant may not have opened until '79 or so...

    European pressings (where LPs cut in one country are sometimes placed in covers that list another country as the origin):

    320 = GERMANY (Hanover, I believe, but possibly Hamburg )
    420 = ENGLAND (only for POLYDOR ?)
    670 = HOLLAND (only for EMI ?)
  13. -Ben

    -Ben Forum Resident

    Washington DC Area
    Best answer:

  14. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I noticed that Arin designated the lathes used by TML as driven by tube amps. Obviously, Scully lathes. And I'd have to agree with the assessment about the sound quality.

    As I'd noted before, Masterdisk was established in 1973 as a spinoff of Mercury Records' editing and mastering division. And Mr. Ludwig, up to the mid-to-late 1970's, worked at Sterling Sound.

    Specialty actually first opened around 1950 and initially pressed 45's only. That logo, from the 1960's to 1972, was shown backwards. It was around 1979 that WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) acquired the pressing plant and turned it into the East Coast arm of WEA Manufacturing (Allied Record Co., based in Los Angeles and taken over around the same time, was the West Coast arm).

    Alas, Liberty's pressing relationship with RCA ended around 1966-67; starting around 1964 Shelley Products, Ltd. of Huntington Station, NY (the ones with the "X" stamped in "negative" position on the trail-off wax prior to c.1969 after which a backward "S" in a circle began showing up, as well as pop-off labels pre-1967) pressed for the company and continued to do so to the end in 1971.

    Motown also used Columbia in the early-through-mid 1970's and again in the late '70's; as well as using Southern Products in Tennessee.

    Shelley Products also pressed for Laurie during the early-to-mid 1960's; additionally Columbia pressed on and off for Laurie (as backup for RCA, I suppose) from late 1966 to mid-1969.

    With a few pressed by Capitol.

    The thing about PRC's plant now in the hands of UML is somewhat ironic, in the sense that Decca (precursor to today's UML) ran the Richmond plant (code #3 on trail off wax) from the 1930's through 1956, two years after which Mercury Records acquired it (first as Richmond Record Pressings, then Mercury Record Manufacturing and finally Philips Recording Corp. from which the PRC initials were first derived). Although, technically, the grounds on which the plant is based is more modern and different (i.e. opened around the late 1960's) than the plant that Decca once ran and Mercury took over way back when.

    Also, Columbia's Pitman, NJ plant also presses CD's, as part of SDM (Sony Disc Manufacturing). I suppose that would make it six still around.
  15. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    Oh, I get that. That plant, after a year or two of being idle, started pressing CDs around 1988-1989 as CMU (note the unmistakable "CMU P ##" on the non-playing center of the CD). Today, the majority of Redbook-only CDs issued by Sony Music are pressed at that Pitman, NJ plant. DADC presses the remainder of Sony Music's Redbook-only CDs, as well as Redbook CDs for major clients such as Fantasy (now owned by Concord) and Telarc (partially owned by Sony Corp. of Japan) and SACDs (both non-hybrid and hybrid).

    Actually, the year in which Liberty's pressing relationship with RCA ended was 1968, when Transamerica's acquisition of the label was made final. And Shelley Products, Ltd. was also heavy on styrene for their 45's.

    By the way, RCA did not always use vinyl for their 45's: In the late '70s, RCA's Indy pressing plant (by then, the only one of RCA's pressing plants still operating) switched to styrene. And when GE sold RCA's music division to BMG in 1987, the Indy plant finally shut down, and RCA vinyl from that point onwards was pressed by other comapnies.
  16. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member

    A lot of this stuff should be added to the wiki. Check my sig for the URL.
  17. rmos

    rmos Forum Resident

    I thought I read somewhere that EMI had closed (or would be closing soon) their Jacksonville, IL plant.
  18. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    I think they would be closing that plant very soon. That is because EMI itself may be on the auction block. Many recent EMI CDs had been pressed at Warner's CD pressing plants in anticipation of the merger that never came.

    EDIT - Actually, EMI did close the Jacksonville plant. In fact, EMI has ceased self-production of its CDs and DVDs. All future EMI-Capitol media product will be outsourced from other companies.

    EDIT #2 - I was incorrect about some of the pressing plants still in operation. DADC is now part of SDM (Sony Disc Manufacturing). PRC's plant in Richmond, IN is not owned by UML at all - but is now owned by Canadian firm Cinram, which will supply EMI-Capitol with future product. UML (UMG) product for the US is made in Grover, NC. And I can add MCA's Pickneyville, IL plant as still operating; in fact, both Grover, NC and Pickneyville, IL plants are now part of UML, which manufactures CDs for Universal Music Group (UMG).

    The tally of how many LP pressing plants still in operation under another capacity stands at 6:
    • Columbia, Pitman, NJ and Terre Haute, IN (both plants now part of Sony Disc Manufacturing)
    • PRC, Richmond, IN (now Cinram, and now pressing CDs for EMI-Capitol)
    • Specialty, Olyphant, PA (now pressing CDs for Warner Music Group)
    • MCA, Gloversville, NY (now pressing Sundazed 180g vinyl reissues) and Pickneyville, IL (now pressing CDs for UMG)
  19. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    As I said earlier, the Pitman and Terre Haute plants are now part of Sony Disc Manufacturing (SDM), pressing CDs. And although the Carrollton, GA plant ceased pressing vinyl in 1991, it continued to press CDs until 2001. (Sony continues to maintain a warehouse and distribution facility there to this day.) The Santa Maria, CA plant closed in 1981.
  20. stinsojd

    stinsojd Forum Resident

    I just want to comment that this is one of the BEST threads I've ever read! As a relatively new LP collector, this information is priceless! Thank you, James, for starting the thread and ESPECIALLY thanks to all who have contributed their knowledge herein.
  21. James Glennon

    James Glennon Senior Member Thread Starter

    Dublin, Ireland
    Wax Lyrical!

    I am delighted to take all the credit for this wonderful thread! Like a good manager who takes all the credit for what the workers (W.B. & RJL2424) do!

    It beats 'What colour socks do you wear when you are listening to Oasis' type of thread. Yuch!

    By the way W.B. or RJL242 I asked in an earlier thread what a handwritten 'T' or 'T1' or 'TI' which appears before a dead wax number meant?

    Any ideas?
  22. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    The T on a Columbia-pressed vinyl's deadwax means that your copy was pressed at Terre Haute, IN. (Unless there is an XG next to that, which means that the stamper was first used at Terre Haute, then reused at Carrollton, GA.) The "1" next to that T means that it's the first mother made from a given lacquer.
    JDistheone likes this.
  23. AtcoFan

    AtcoFan Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, USA
  24. CT Dave

    CT Dave Forum Resident

    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    RJL2424 and W.B., and all others who have contributed to this thread, Thank you for allowing me to realize that I was not the only one looking at the stamper numbers, fonts, insignias, logos and such stamped into the dead wax of 45's and LP's. You have certainly raised what was to me a curiousity and mystery to an art form. I find it fascinating. :righton:
  25. RJL2424

    RJL2424 Forum Resident

    I have one more question for W.B.:

    Apparently, in the mid-to-late '60s, there was a fourth Columbia record pressing plant.

    Earlier today, I came across a 1967 stereo pressing of John Coltrane's My Favorite Things on Atlantic. It had Columbia matrix numbers, followed by a "CL" where the "CP" or "CT" would have been. And there is an "L" somewhere in the dead wax.

    Which pressing plant would the "L" or "CL" indicate?

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