Parlophone is a record label that was founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company as Parlophon. The British branch was formed in 1923 as “Parlophone Records” which developed a reputation in the 1920s as a leading jazz label. In 1926, Columbia Graphophone Company acquired the Parlophone business, label name and its titles. Columbia Graphophone later became Columbia Records, and then EMI. The label’s fortunes began to rise in 1962, when George Martin signed rising new Liverpool band The Beatles. Along with fellow NEMS stablemates Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and the Fourmost, and contemporary Mancunian band The Hollies, The Beatles turned Parlophone into one of the world’s most famous and prestigious record labels.
EMI manufactured records at factory at Hayes in Middlesex, a town in London Borough of Hillington located near Heathrow Airport. The Hayes factory began pressing 45-rpm singles and 33 1/3-rpm long-playing vinyl records in October 1952. The pressing machines used by EMI at Hayes at the time the Beatles first signed with Parlophone were built by the Cramophone Company in the thirties. During the early sixties, EMI had approximately 120 presses. If all the machines were running, the factory could manufacture approximately 120,000 records a day. Although some factories changed stampers after press run of as little as 300 records, EMI did not change stampers that frequently. Stampers would be replaced when they were no longer capable of producing a quality-sounding disc. During the sixties, EMI cut the lacquers for Beatles singles, albums and EP on Scully lathes at Abbey Road. Lacquers were used to create the metal parts needed for manufacturing records. Each side of the record has its own set of metal parts. The basic procedure has been in use for over one hundred years with only minor changes. EMI made its metal parts at its Hayes factory.
The soft master known as a “Lacquer” would then be electroplated with a metal, commonly a nickel alloy (this and all subsequent metal copies were known as “matrices” or singular “matrix”). When this metal was removed from the Lacquer, it was a copy of the Lacquer and of the yet to be produced record. In the UK, the copy from the lacquer was called the “Master”. In the earliest days the Master was used as a mold to press records sold to the public, but as demand for mass production of records grew, another step was added to the process.
The metal Master was then electroplated to create “Mothers”. From the “Mothers”, “Stampers” would be formed. The Stampers would be used in hydraulic presses to mould the LP discs. The advantages of this system over the earlier more direct system included ability to make a large number of records quickly by using multiple stampers. Also, more records could be produced from each Master since molds would eventually wear out.
Since the Master was the unique source made to ultimately produce the Stampers, it was considered a Library Item. The “Pedigree” of any record can be traced through the Mother/Stamper identities used, by reading the lettering found on the record run-out area.