Sunday, March 23, 2014

Worldecho: the missing link between Durium and Tuck's Gramophone Records Postcard

Worldecho: The missing link between Tuck and Durium?
Tuck's Gramophone Record Postcard  .... an amusing and interesting innovation 
Hans Koert

Since the early 1990s, when I started to research the 1930s US flexible, unbreakable card board records, published by Durium ( like the Hit of the week and numerous Durium labels), people asked me if the rare Tuck's Gramophone Records: post cards with a small playable gramophone record on it, were made of "durium" too - an acetate. I've never found any direct proof for that, but found out that in both "stories" the British record company Worldecho could have been the missing link. 

Since my teens I'm fascinated by recording sound .... although we didn't had a gramophone player in the 1950s, I collected those free soundsheets sent by companies like Reader's Digest with ads for lp-albums we never could play ( or even couldn't affotd). My uncle in Rotterdam had a 78rpm gramophone player where my brother and I loved to play his records with popular music. When I was 15 years old I bought my first gramophone player and the 25 cm Columbia album Jazz Session with Bobby Hackett; my first record .... the starting point for a lifelong fascination for jazz and early recorded sound ..... 

Tuck's Gramophone Record Post card No. 14 "The Old Folks At Home" (ca. 1929) ( collection: Hans Koert)

In the 1990s I started to collect and research the rare 1930s card board Hit of the Week records; a quest for records and information which was crowned with a full Hit of the Week-Durium Discography and four two-cd albums with the Complete Hit of the Week Recordings, released by Archeophone records. Later my collection was enriched with Goodson Records, Filmophone and other rare late 1920s flexible records. 

The Marble Arch, London ( post card sent to Mejuffer  Petr. Poley, Stokvis st.  Ierseke Holland  (ca. 1915) (collection: Hans Koert)  Mind the lady at the left and the pedestrians at the right.

Thanks to Jos I could add a 1920s Tuck's Post Card to my collection. As I only had heard about it, I was anxious to see one, to smell it, to touch it. These rare items were published by the Tuck Company, based in London, which started to publish regular post cards since 1898 in numbered series - a few years later it also opened an office in New York City.  

Reverse side: The Marble Arch, London ( Post card sent to Mejuffer.  Petr. Poley, Stokvis st.  Ierseke Holland  (ca. 1915) (collection: Hans Koert)

Tuck made post cards in a period that it was very popular to send this kind of messages. Isn't it great that I found an old Tuck post card in my family archive, sent to my grand mother, from the Marble Arch in London. It's a pity that the stamp ( or other marks to date the card) have disappeared, but the salutation Mejuffe ( ( = young lady) suggest that she wasn't married at that time, which means that the card must have been sent somewhere between 1910 and 1918. A small search on internet learned me that the photo itself must have been made early 1900s. ( first issue 1906).

The Marble Arch, London ( photo early 20th century)

I knew, of course, that making photos early 1900s was a complete other process then nowadays, but I didn't realize  that Tuck didn't make a complete "new" photo after a decade when the series should be renewed, but "updated" the already existing glass negative and "photoshopped" ( the word didn't excist in those days) with extra pedestrians and "modern" cars. Have a look at the 1918 version with the 1900 pedestrian at the right in front and the 1918 car at the left. 

The Marble Arch, London ( photo ca. 1918) 

 I told about some rumours that Tuck and the Durium cardboard record might have things in common ..... I found out that the material of the Tuck Record ( the actual record) seems to have been made from the same material as the "Durium" record.
In 1929 Tuck started to produce Gramophone Record Post Cards. It was made by Worldecho and this small short-lived record company has been suggested as a company that used a kind of Durium-like acetate to cover its (thick) cardboard records. In a previous blog about the 80th birthday of the Durium record I posted some information about this obscure record label: Durium Records 80 years old (1930 - 2010) 
    Hal T. Beans demonstreert
    de buigbare Dutiumplaat (ca. 1929)
  • It is said that the Durium acetate was developed in Europe during the First World War, to protect aeroplane noses agains dust, heat, cold and moist and it seems that after the war new uses were found - I saw once advertisements for rain coats and garden furniture made of Durium. During the 1920s it seems that the durium acetate was used to make unbreakable gramophone records, like Worldecho - a rather stiff cardboard layer with a durium surface,  produced in England. These records were produced for only six months and then it was withdraw from the market, as the records easily split into two halves if you dropped it.
The Tuck's Gramophone Record I got in my collection is catalogued as series D no. 14 and its matrix number is P 58   - It belongs to one of the first series as it was first mentioned in a september 1929 magazine entitled Musical Opinion and Music Trades, which reads in its regular columns:
Messrs. Raphael Tuck are responsible for an amusing and interesting innovation in the shape of gramophone record picture postcards. Measuring 3-inch, these discs play for one minute and cost 3d each.  Several series are already available, and I have heard admirable demonstrations of  „Auld Lang Syne“, „Ye Banks and Braes“, „Annie Laurie“, „Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond“.  Besides these songs there are orchestral records and cornet and saxophone solos.  One immediate result of these postcards has been the installation of portable gramophones in the smaller stations to demonstrate them!    Musical Opinion and Music Trades (september 1929): 

My copy is one of those "cornet solos" and I played it once at my 1930s portable Columbia gramophone.  Its sound is rather low-fi and it plays for almost one minute. 

Achterzijde Tuck's Gramophone Record Postcard No. 14 "The Old Folks At Home" (ca. 1929) ( collection: Hans Koert)

There is one remarkable point to mention.  Like I told you before about the "updating" of the regular post card with the London Marble Arch photo from early 1900s which were still used during the late 1910s, Tuck liked to recycle ....  And even the postcards, used to stick on the small gramophone record, were published before and might have been dead stock for years. I found a copy of the original post card, entitled Watching for Father, a painting of the Scottish artist Scott Rankin, who was active in Scotland as a painter late nineteen century.

Watching for Father - Scott Rankin. (Tuck's Post Card ca. 1910)

If you compare the reverse sites of both cards you'll learn that the blue lettering was printed later and features information about the record itself - the red / brown print learns more about the original Oilette Post Card no. 3368 which must have been dead stock from the 1910s or later. 

Hans Koert
author of the Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies

This Keep (it) Swinging blog must been one of my last ones, as I received some bad news about my health. Within a few day a course of chemotherapy will start.  I started the Keep (it) Swinging blog February 2006, more then eight years ago, as the and later upgraded up to ; all topgerther more then 1800 contributions about jazz, jazz-related music and early sound reproducton, like the flexible records from the 1930s ( Hit of the Week, Goodson and so on). 

An almost complete survey of all Keep (it) Swinging blogs can be find at and in the menu at the right of the  My concert blogs can are linked at my concert blog: en

Hope to see you back in a few months ......

Keep (it) Swinging

This final blog has also been posted at the the Flexible Records blog and the Hit of the Week blog     

Hans Koert

The rare Tuck's Gramophone record Post cards, released for the first time late 1920s, is a sought after colletor's item for picture disc collectors. The small gramophone stick on the Tuck post card, an amusing and interesting innovation (ad late 1920s) seems to have been made of a Durium-like acetate ..... It seems that the short lived record label Worldecho might have been the missing link ..... . 

This contribution might be one of my last blogs.  Due to severe health problems I'll have to stop publishing. Since February 2006 more then 1800 Keep (it) Swinging blogs have been published.  Thanks for reading it. Hope to see you back later if the recovery brings me health and energy.
Keep (it) Swinging

Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions Hans Koert
n It Up  - a record  that was meant to have that dancing spirit, that groove-to-the-music, turn-it-up vibe.

No comments:

Post a Comment