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Stinson Records Revisted

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GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 02:50 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 02:57 AM
Deckman 24 Nov 20 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 09:20 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 09:36 PM
Thomas Stern 24 Nov 20 - 09:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Nov 20 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Nov 20 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 Nov 20 - 07:58 PM
Thomas Stern 25 Nov 20 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 Nov 20 - 01:17 PM
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Subject: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 02:50 AM

To paraphrase one album's liner notes: Much has been written about Stinson Records, most of it wrong…

State-of-the-art:
Stinson Records was an American record label formed by Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky in 1939, initially to market, in the US, recordings made in the Soviet Union. Between the 1940s and 1960s, it mainly issued recordings of American folk and blues musicians, including Woody Guthrie and Josh White.

History
According to most sources, the Stinson Trading Company was established in 1939 by Irving Prosky (1893-1952), a Russian-born distributor of Soviet records in the US, and Herbert Harris, the owner of the Union Record Shop in New York who was a member of the Communist Party and the proprietor of a movie house that screened Soviet films. Harris and Prosky operated the concession to sell records from the U.S.S.R. at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, but when supplies fell short of demand he and Prosky set up their own record label to produce copies of Soviet and other eastern European recordings, including recordings by the Red Army Chorus. An earlier date for the company's foundation is indicated by a Billboard report in 1946 which stated that it was planning to expand "in connection with its 30th anniversary as a phonograph record manufacturer."”
[wiki]

Discogs and the rest of the internet is copypasta of the above. M.I.A. is anyone or anything named "Stinson." Odd.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 02:52 AM

Found below the line but not exactly “BS.”

FYI: The Collectable Records line was unauthorized, unofficial, (semi)bootleg or whatever your local word for it might be:

"BS: Stinson Search: I'm getting desperate
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 12:30 PM

EUREKA!!!!! (BTW, thank you all very much.) Lib. of Cong. finally sent me a contact, which note I received last night. (Collectables Records is going to be a problem; I can see going into debt - further than I already am.)
For anyone else who may be interested: Stinson was started by Herbert Harris, working in the early days with Moses Asch. There was a breakup of the arrangement. Harris' son inherited, then his granddaughter and her husband. They live in Granada Hills, CA -- Kurtis and Karen Williams. Most of the "records" -- sound, as well as business documentation -- are stored in Karen's mother's house. They are slowly clearing it up (her mom is in a care facility). They will be glad to communicate with anyone and help in matters regarding the Stinson catalogue, but it will take time. (Let me know if anyone wants their mailing address.)

'Catters, I have been spreading the Stinson search question around the universe for several years. I am so relieved. Of course, this means that now I have to think of new questions. Rats -- always something....               Tw”


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 02:55 AM

Yank historian Matthew Barton rewrites a good deal of the above history in two lectures:

STINSON RECORDS: A LOOK AT THE LABEL FROM ITS FOUNDING IN 1939

Edmonton to the East Village: Canadian Ukrainian Folk Music on a NY Label

In the first video Barton allows the Stinson Trading Co. was started by a man named Stinson – who died in 1938 – and in the second video we learn he worked for Columbia Records:

“Charles R. Stinson of the wholesale department of the Columbia Phonograph Co., New York City, is receiving the congratulations of his many friends upon the arrival of a son and heir, Charles R., Jr.. who arrived March 2.”
[Talking Machine World, March 1928, p.109]

“STINSON – On Thursday, March 24, 1938, CHARLES R., aged 48 year, father of Charles R. Jr.; son of Mrs. Elizabeth Stinson and brother of Mary I. And William P. Stinson. Funeral services at the Funeral Home, 180-04 Hillside Ave., Hollis, L.I., on Saturday, March 26, at 2 p.m.”
[Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25 March 1038, p.13]

Note: Son of Charles P. (c.1861-1916) & Elizabeth Stinson (1864-1943.)

Cautionary note: All of the relations are listed as born in “England” but, the Yanks often swap “English” & “British” around in their vital records. Fwiw: Many, if not most, of the New England and Midwest-American Stinsons claim Irish.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 02:57 AM

If jazz historians remember Charles “Charlie” Stinson (c.1890 - 1938) at all it's as the founder of Stinson Records, also not true.

Before there was a Stinson Records label there was a Stinson Trading Company. This is what Proskey et al took over when Charlie Stinson died in 1938.

It was at the Trading Company that Charlie Stinson created the modern “bargain bin” record outlet concept and, along the way, brokered the United Hot Club jazz reissues with Milt Gabler (aka: Roy Ilene of Wimoweh fame/notoriety.) First of their kind.

Strange how few early American jazz & folk music producers were operating in their “native” genre.

More to follow.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 11:38 AM

THIS IS GREAT INFORMATION ,,, THANK YOU. BOB(DECKMAN)NELSON


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 09:12 PM

Bob: You're very welcome. And thanks to our mudelf for all the trimmings and sorting out!

As per the wiki footnotes the earliest date for the company is Stinson's own 1946 ad copy on the occasion of their '30th Anniversary' expansion:

Stinson Celebrates 30th Anniversary in Disk Biz
NEW YORK, May 25. – According to Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky [sic], the Stinson Trading Company, Inc., is planning a large expansion in connection with its 30th anniversary as a phonograph record manufacturer.

Company has purchased the interest of Moe Asch, but will continue to produce recordings under both the Stinson and Asch-Stinson labels.”
[Coin Machines, Billboard, 1 June 1946, p.102]

...and, so far, nowhere else is it mentioned again until the mid-1930s. Coincidence or not, 1916 is the year Charlie's father Charles P. died.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 09:20 PM

The earliest solid references are for Charlie Stinson, not the trading company, and find him in his mid-30s, married and already in the employ of Columbia Phonograph –

Trade Honors J. H. Mayers on Return From Abroad...
...In addition to supplying the artists, the Columbia Phonograph Co. was well represented through the presence of Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Guttenberge, manager of the wholesale division of the company… and Mr. and Mrs. C.R. Stinson, of the sales force....”
[The Talking Machine World, 15 Nov 1925, p.60]

A-K, Columbia, Majestic And Stromberg Exhibit At Music Trades Show
...The new automatic record changing phonograph was exhibited by Columbia. This instrument plays nine records automatically and is priced from $295, less tubes, and up. The new Columbia radio and combination line was also on display. C.S. Stinson [sic] and A.C. Kohl were in charge of the Columbia display.”
[Talking Machine and Radio Weekly, Vol.29, No.25, 18 June 1930, p.5]

Oldest & newest found to date. Typical a half-dozen places or so.

Note: Here Charlie Stinson is the equivalent of a modern day product manager. The major record companies are still desperately trying to control the hardware (brown goods) side of the marketplace. The shellac records themselves are more of an after-market accessory. Columbia, RCA &c won't give up until mid-1950s “hi-fi” home systems push them aside.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 09:36 PM

Too much background to the Milt Gabler interviews that follow:

Surprise! Record companies have no clue what makes a successful song. And so the usual problems of over-supply of the 'bad' and shortages of the 'good' down at the consumer level.

As long as the original metal work holds up, one can always repress another lot of the good stuff. But… what to do with all the clinkers? Columbia's solution was to allow dealers to return a portion of their “remainders” for a factory discount or credit on new orders.

The worst of the worst will have their paper center labels steamed off and the shellac body recycled into new records.

The best of them can be redistributed back into any niche markets where they did sell well and/or given a “bargain” discount in higher volume locations. This is where honest operators like Charlie Stinson and Milt Gabler came in.

New problem: Record companies couldn't tell how many times any one record had been returned for factory credit. Dealers soon noticed the cheapest “bargain bin” inventory was actually worth more for its company/dealer wholesale credit on "hot" new releases than it was on the open retail market. Round and round she goes.

The record company response was what Milt Gabler will be refering to as the “cut out” but that phrase won't turn up until the 1950s and LPs.

Upon return LP jackets, cassette and CD cases get notched or drilled or otherwise defaced so they cannot be returned again. If you have a music collection of any size chances are good you own a few.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 09:57 PM

announced 6/28/2019 :

Historic Stinson Records Joins Smithsonian Folkways Catalog

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has acquired the historic Stinson Records catalog: nearly a hundred albums that include foundational Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly recordings as well as works of pioneering 20th century artists in blues, jazz and beyond, including Burl Ives, Josh White, Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Meade Lux Lewis, and Art Tatum.
With roots dating to 1935, the Stinson Trading Company was founded in New York by Charles Stinson and Irving Prosky. By 1939, Prosky was the sole owner of the business, and in 1943 he partnered with Herbert Harris. During World War II, the rationing of shellac (the material from which early gramophone records were made) led Harris and Prosky to partner with Moses Asch, the owner of Asch Records and future founder of Folkways Records. The two companies operated as one for a short time, producing American folk, blues and jazz records that have inspired generations of musicians. The partnership dissolved after the war, splitting important master tapes between both labels.
The acquisition is the result of 30 years of conversations between Smithsonian Folkways and the Stinson heirs, and at long last reunites the Guthrie and Lead Belly recordings created during a brief partnership in the 1940s between Stinson Records and Folkways’ predecessor label Asch Records. The acquisition was finalized by the heir to the Stinson label in a private ceremony at the Smithsonian in May, bringing together recordings that have been separately owned for the last 75 years.
In the coming months Smithsonian Folkways is planning to begin making these recordings available for the first time in decades as the catalog becomes digitized. It is also planning physical releases. These recordings, as with all owned by the label, will be available in perpetuity. Learn more on Billboard.
---------------------

So far, have not seen any announced releases. The STINSON LP catalog consissted of RE-Releases of previous ASCH-STINSON 78's
and a series of NEW recordings made in the 1950's and later.
I eagerly await the release of these 1950's folk revival
recordings, which incude Robin Roberts, Paul Clayton, Ellen
Stekert, Rev. Gary Davis, Hally Wood, John Runge and others.

Have a HEALTHY Thanksgiving!


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Nov 20 - 07:50 PM

Um… spoiler alert? ;)

It's true. Even more important than being under one roof, it's a environment controlled, archival grade roof that they are all under. Hallelujah.

The 75 year clock started from that shady "30th Anniversary" advertisement (see above) which also mentions Stinson's split with Moses Asche.

And deja vu, the “unauthorized” 1995 Collectables series (see also above) was released, in good faith no doubt, because the same folks thought they had it all in hand back then. Missed it by that much.

I doubt another rights holder/next-of-kin will show however, I would not be the least surprised if more masters, stampers or transcription discs should turn up. We should be so unlucky!

But we're getting way ahead of ourselves here. In the 1920-30s Moses Asche; Milt Gabler, Marshall Stearns &c are teenagers geeking out in old man Stinson's record store and George Avakian is still in knee pants.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Nov 20 - 07:57 PM

Gabler conflates the United Hot Club reissues with the bargain bin stuff more than once. Short take:

Milt Gabler: I first met Billie (Holiday) when she would come into my shop on 42nd Street with Teddy Wilson. John Hammond liked to come to my shop because I had bought all the old Okeh records when Charlie Stinson was the contact. I went up to Bridgeport where Charlie warehoused records he picked up from dealers around the country and cherry-picked the ones I wanted for the store.”
[Cafe Society, 2009, p.50]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 Nov 20 - 07:58 PM

Long take:

“Because of the 5 percent return priviledge, that was supposed to enable you to get rid of your rotten tomato records, and send them back to the company. So there were guys, like Charlie Stinson who later put out Stinson Records. Charles Stinson used to warehouse records and go around the country buying up stock from dealers that were quitting the record business. Of course, the record business when radios came in had dipped, and furniture dealers and people like that who had record departments, were tickled to death to sell to him the records for a penny ot two apiece and let him cart them out of the place. So he would warehouse all the standard brand records… Not numerically; he would just have them on the shelves. When it came time, every six months you had this 5 percent priviledge – he would come around and say”How many records do you need?” I'd sayy, “Well, this year I can use 200.” But I would keep the records that I didn't want to send back for credit because I thought someone might buy them later. He would buy them for a penny or two apiece, and sell them to dealers for a nickle.

So I went down to his place and told him, “Charlie, I'll pay you a dime a record, but I don't want you to dump off 200 records.” Now, when it was time for the return priviledge… Let's say it happened in January and in August. He was just collecting records the rest of the time, putting them in inventory. So I'd say, “Rather than go to Salvation Army for used records I'll go to you and let me pick what I want. You'll never miss them. The dealers you schlock your records to wouldn't care.” And I'd say, I'll pay you a dime a record...” And they were clean records.

So I'd cherrypick them for twice as much as he got from others. So he was crazy about me! And I got a lot of great cutout jazz records that way. So because of my relationship with Charlie Stinson, when Columbia dumped… When CBS bought Columbia, and they dumped the old Okeh inventory they had up in the Bridgeport factory, the first guy he called was me. He said, “Milt do you want to go up and cherrypick the stuff in Bridgeport?” I said, “Absolutely!”
[Reading Jazz, 2014, p.222]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Nov 20 - 08:12 PM

Concerning COLLECTABLES CD releases:
In the LP era, EVEREST in it's ARCHIVE OF FOLK (later FOLK & JAZZ...) series issued a number of discs drawn from the Stinson LP's. IIRC some may have used Stinson stampers-not sure on this, if someone
has the discs handy perhaps you would check ???

Did Collectables take any of their CD releases from the Everest
albums ??

Thanks.

Have a safe and Healthy Thanksgiving!
Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 27 Nov 20 - 01:17 PM

Milt Gabler's wiki for the period under discussion. Stinson is entirely behind the scenes. No mention:

“By the mid-1930s, Gabler renamed the business the Commodore Music Shop, and it became a focal point for jazz fans and musicians alike. In 1933 Gabler began buying up unwanted copies of recordings from the record companies and resold them, making him the first person to deal in reissues, the first to sell records by mail order, and also the first to credit all the musicians on the recordings.

Gabler started up a specialty label UHCA (United Hot Clubs of America) in about 1935 to reissue selected 78 r.p.m. sides previously released by other companies. He was able to secure many important jazz records including the 1931 Joe Venuti-Eddie Lang all star session (from ARC), Bessie Smith's final session (from OKeh), a number of Frank Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, and Miff Mole sides (also from OKeh). These reissues were from the original 78 stampers and were instrumental in spreading the concept of collecting classic performances from the past. A number of Paramount and Gennett sides were dubbed from clean copies and issued on UHCA and the sound was surprisingly good for a dubbing.” [wiki]

Future (?) partner Irving Prosky is listed in the 1930 U.S. census as a “radio salesman,” same as Gabler and Moe Asche. More on him to follow.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 10:04 PM

In the 1930s American jazz nerds banded together in local “hot clubs” counting among their charter members the likes of Milt Gabler, Marshall Stearns and his protege George Avakian:

“Stearns played drums in his teens, and attended Harvard University both for undergraduate and for law school (1929?-1934). Following this he studied medieval English at Yale University, where he took his Ph.D. in 1942.” [Marshall Stearns ]

“He (Avakian) managed to meet and interview (Benny) Goodman for the Horace Mann School Record during his senior year. This is when he began amassing his enormous collection of Jazz recordings. He also began writing letters to such companies as Decca and the American Record Corporation (ARC). ARC had acquired the catalogs of the bankrupt OKeh and Brunswick Records labels, both of which had recorded jazz extensively in the 1920s. Avakian began writing letters lobbying them to reissue those recordings.” [George Avakian]


We know at least one of Avakian's famous letters crossed Milt Gabler's desk. No Charlie Stinson contacts so far but it appears from the Gabler interviews above at least the gist of one other letter made its way down the corporate pipeline to Charlie Stinson who first approached Gabler, not the other way around.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 10:12 PM

It's not clear from the sources if Charlie Stinson was operating here as an employee/agent of the record companies or to his own account as Stinson Trading Co and the exact dates for Okeh & Gabler's United Hot Club label are no less fuzzy.

RKO Jefferson Theatre c.1935
214 E. 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

This is the photo from the Barton lectures. Not exactly sure how he knows it's Stinson (extreme right-center) but the RKO billing of Astor & Talbot in Easy Money dates the photo to c.1935-36. According to Barton's interviews with the family, Irving Prosky has now been with the Trading Company for about two years.

So we can say Stinson Trading Company first appeared sometime between 1930-1933. Irving Prosky joined not long after the fact. The oft mentioned Soviet franchise and the 1939 World's Fair were not relevant to the start-up. There would be no Stinson Record label until after the death of Charlie Stinson in 1938.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GerryM
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 11:17 PM

“He (Avakian) managed to meet and interview (Benny) Goodman for the Horace Mann School Record during his senior year."

[Thread drift] Horace Mann was also the Alma Mater of Tom Lehrer, some years later.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 07 Dec 20 - 07:55 PM

And lost in the copypasta somehow was the part about Avakian going on to Yale where he met Marshall Stearns; joined the local Hot Club and was encouraged to start his letter writing campaign.

Also, in the second Barton lecture the date for the Jefferson Theater photograph is narrowed to the summer of 1936.

Irving Prosky per Mathew Barton & the U.S.A. census:

Jewish, born 1893, in Kiev. Shot by Cossacks in during the 1905 revolution. Emigrated from Russia to the United States as a teenager (c.1906-1912.)

Eventually settling in Detroit as a Socialist/Communist labor organizer working with William Z. Foster and getting “black-listed” before relocating to New York, N.Y. sometime in the 1920s.

As above, by 1930 he is working as a radio salesman and 2-3 years later hooks up with Charlie Stinson at the newly formed(?) Stinson Trading Company.

And that dear readers, is everything I know about “co-founder” Irving Prosky .


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 07 Dec 20 - 07:57 PM

March, 1938 Charles R. Stinson dies at the age of 48. Most of the next-of-kin are still together in the 1940 N.Y. census. As in his death notice, no mention of Mrs. Charles R. Stinson.

How the company assets (considerable) came to Irving Prosky isn't explained in the sources. Fact is they did and so, finally, we arrive at the famous Soviet Records era and a very distinct shift in the Stinson Trading Company business model. To recap:

“(Herbert) Harris and Prosky operated the concession to sell records from the U.S.S.R. at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, but when supplies fell short of demand he and Prosky set up their own record label to produce copies of Soviet and other eastern European recordings, including recordings by the Red Army Chorus.” [wiki]

Herbert Harris may have already joined up by 1939. The rest of it never happened.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 07 Dec 20 - 08:16 PM

“Genuine” Soviet New York Fair 78rpm pressings were retailed directly at the Fair and on 5th Street in New York City by Bookniga; and elsewhere by others, most of them government fronts. If anybody had the franchise, it was the Soviets themselves. And then...

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact: August, 1939
Invasion of Poland: September, 1939 – October, 1939
Winter War: November, 1939 – March, 1940
Operation Barbarossa: June, 1941
Pearl Harbor: December, 1941

For the first two years of the War in Europe, and for the duration in the Pacific, the Soviets might as well have been Nazis. Nothing new, living in Kiev, the entire Prosky family would have experienced the suppression of 1905 Russian Revolution as a pogrom, regardless of their individual politics.

The Soviet N.Y. Fair pavilion was razed at the close of the 1939 season. They never reopened. Bookniga was closed by the U.S. authorities as a Soviet front. It eventually reopened as The Four Continents and no less fronty.

The leftover Soviet 78rpm inventory was sold for scrap. The buyer was, of course, Irving Prosky & the Stinson Trading Co.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 10 Dec 20 - 09:15 AM

Genuine Soviet pressings have “The New York Fair 1·9·3·9” around the top border of the center labels. The 'Worker Joe' logo stands on the record company or label name “USSR” center-center, in large block lettering. There is no credit for distribution.

In many ways they are a page out of Milt Gabler's United Hot Club playbook; twenty-five disparate earlier releases collated, repackaged and reissued on a new label just for the occasion. The total Soviet press run is estimated at 50000 units (2000ea.) They are not all that rare.

Stinson Trading Co. had the genuine “cut-outs” on sale everywhere in the first weeks of December, 1939 before the Soviets had even finished tearing down their pavilion over at the fairgounds.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 10 Dec 20 - 09:24 AM

By all reports the genuine cut-out inventory sold-out in a matter of months and here is where Irving Prosky et al take a hard turn with the established Stinson business model.

Charlie Stinson; Milt Gabler & the Okeh-Hot Club reissues were entirely above-board. Indeed, the original driving force behind the creation of bargain bins and cut-outs was to keep the resales and redistributions tax legal and 'by-the-book.'

The 1940s Stinson Trading Company Soviet N.Y. Fair pressings are most definitely not above-board nor by-the-book. The center labels still says otherwise but, they were pressed in the United States. They are markedly lower quality dubs taken from the originals. The print around the label border and the record company name are both missing. Technically, there is no record company or record label. Some, but not all, reflect a poorly inserted distributor's credit for Stinson Trading Co at the bottom-center.

They are what the Hollywood gangster films these days call fu-gazzi or fah-guzzi. To old-time jukebox collectors and crate-diggers like your 'umble scribe:

Fugace. Literally – fleeting. Fly by night. Here today, gone tomorrow. They have a hundred names- fake, pirate, knock-off, rip-off, bootleg, unauthorized, unofficial. Deliberately made and marketed in such a way as to make you think it is something that it is not. Or the other way around.

If Milt Gabler's record store and labels were indeed the first of their kind in honest cut-out and reissued record sales, and we believe they are, then Irving Prosky and The Stinson Trading Company were one of the first of the knock-off fugace record companies anywhere.

Out of control will be a hallmark of Stinson's way of doing business for the next 75+ years.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 10 Dec 20 - 09:31 AM

In the 2016 lecture Matthew Barton wonders briefly if Eric Bernay's N.Y. Music Room record & bookstore dealt in the genuine Soviet pressings.

The answer is no. Prior to 1939 the store was known as “The Progressive.” It was one of the “other” Soviet facade outlets besides Bookniga mentioned above.

The exisitng store on 44th Street reopened not long after as the Music Store with naturalized Ukrainian-American citizen Bernay at the helm. And a Soviet front it undoubtedly remained throughout.

Bernay's Keynote Records A&R will be more than familiar to Asch, Commodore & Stinson collectors. Bernay certainly did reissue at least some of those same fugace Soviet N.Y. Fair American dubs on the Keynote label.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 09:10 PM

“During the war two small companies, Stinson and Argee, started "pirating" Soviet records mainly for the Russian-American market. Surmach encouraged them to issue Ukrainian records, too, and subsequently started doing the same, encouraged by their success. As the Soviet Union had not signed the international copyright convention, there were no legal problems.

Surmach issued about eighty 78s on his Surma, Fortuna and Bayan labels. Only a handful were recorded in the USA; among these, the epic duma songs of Zinoviy Shtokalko deserve special mention.

Some of the records were custom pressed by RCA, some by a company on Long Island. The latter charged 18£ per disc, including the cost of preparing the pressing matrices from the original Soviet discs.”
[JEMF Quarterly, Vol.XII, No.41, 1976, p.18]

Note: The only discography I've been able to confirm for 1940 is Eric Bernay's Keynote: Music Room International Series. Everybody else, it seems, was keeping a very low profile during the FBI's pre-war round-ups.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 09:16 PM

Note: There is still no Stinson Records label; Herbert Harris or any else to justify a war-time shellac ration, as yet. The second record label in the mix was founded by Moses Asch.

Three different Asch record labels usually get lumped together in the histories. The first and rarest of the trio is “Asch Recording Studios.” This was a direct continuation of his contract for WEVD-AM's new transmitter and was located in their new 46th Street broadcast studio.

“Advertisers, Agencies, Stations
New recording company, ASCH Recording Studios, entered wax field this week with headquarters in New York….”
[Billboard, 15 Feb., 1941, p.8]


Negro Album is Plan of Negro Recording Co.
NEW YORK CITY – (SNS) – It is believed that the Asch Recording Studios, 1117 [sic] West 46th Street, New York City, are about to publish the Cavalcade of the American Negro – on records. This should be of interest not only to the whole Negro race, but to every American as well....
[The Phoenix Index, AZ, 15 March 1941, p.7]
[The Omaha Guide, 15 March 1941, p.2]


“Asch Recording Studios
117 West 46th St., New York, N. Y.
Phone, BRyant 9-3137. President, Moe
Asch. SERVICES OFFERED: Off-the-air and off-the-line transcriptions, commercial records, transcriptions, recordings and production.”
[The Radio Annual, 1941]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 09:25 PM

Barnett tends to present the average Stinson consumer as a retail buyer however, much of their early advertising is for the coin operated or “vend” trade:

Amusement Machines (Music)
Foreign Records
Imported From Europe – Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish and Armenian.
List 50c, Discount 40c, F.O.B. N.Y.
Catalogues on Request:
STINSON TRADING CO.
33 Union Square West, N.Y. City
[Billboard, 8 March 1941, p.70]

Amusement Machines (Merchandise)
OFF THE CUFF… Music machine operators with locations in territories with a large foreign population find Stinson Trading Company carries a complete line of popular foreign records, all imported from Europe.”
[Billboard, 15 March 1941, p.72]


Note: The Wurlitzer-Simplex jukebox was a typical joint venture. Wurlitzer made the phonograph & record changer parts. Simplex made the coin box &c. Same as used in peep shows; slot machines; arcade games ad nauseum. The man pulling the levers behind the curtains at Simplex was Meyer Lansky.

Lansky was the money-man behind Lucky Luciano et al. There was never any doubt in their minds who should control the American labor unions and it certainly was not the Soviets or their American proxies.

UK not all that different really.

Organized Crime and KGB in the Jukebox Business


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 03:18 AM

Soviet cinema in America got the same FBI treatment as books & records. Party distributor Amkino was busted for failing to register as foreign agents.

Same as the rest, they reopened, as Artkino at the same Seventh Avenue, NY address. The new man at the top was American-born Nicola Napoli (1905–1982.) Unlike everybody else, Napoli was a holdover from the Soviet Amkino organization; perhaps owing to his being everybody's double agent.

“In 1941, he became an informant for the secret information concerning formulas and products manufactured by Dupont Corporation of America.” [wiki]

On a similar note, Soviet spy ringleader Arthur (Aleksandrovich) Adams (1885–1969) was on Eric Bernay's payroll as Keynote Recording's, ahem... “plastics consultant.” Bernay would aid & abet at least one of Adam's failed escape attempts before the latter eventually gave the Yanks the slip in 1946.

Adams/Bernay/Keynote also brought in busted Soviet agent Irving Lerner (1909–1976) from the Motion Picture Division of the United States Office of War Information after Lerner's cover was blown in his attempt to photograph the Manhattan Project's cyclotron at UC-Berkeley.

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, for Stinson Trading Company was Artkino's American-born huckster-publicist extraordinaire Noel Meadow (Leon Blumenfeld)(1906–1968.) Because Leon is Noel bass ackwards and a blumenfeld is another word for a flowery meadow. :::rimshot::: More on him to follow.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 03:24 AM

Same as the others, Soviet film also kept a fairly low profile for many, many months after Molotov-Ribbentrop and all through the Eastern European invasions and occupations.

Irony of ironies, according to Matthew Barton, Artkino & The Stanley Theatre, NY were featuring They Only Wanted Peace, a bald-faced Soviet attempt to put a smiley face on Molotov-Ribbentrop, on the very day the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union (and Poland and Finland… but who's counting.)

The American attitude sea-change the Nazis began was finished by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Everybody was back in business and Stinson Trading Company branched right out into book distribution:

“The Most Popular Songs from the Soviet Union
Published by: The Stinson Trading Company
27 Union Square West (Cor. 16th Street)
New York, N.Y.
Telephone Grammercy 7-2353
Copyright, 1942”


Heck, anybody could get a job:

“AMUSEMENT MACHINES
News Notes
Johnny (Scat) Davis has signed to record for the Okeh label. . . The Almanac Singers have done likewise with Decca...”
[Billboard, 14 Feb 1942, p.61]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 03:25 AM

No less than ten years of doing business and Stinson Trading Company remains a distributor, not a record label proper.

The old 'Worker Joe' bootleg record label was revived for a new line of Soviet-American dubs; liner notes by Noel Meadow. It is his, and not Prosky or Harris, that is the first name to actually appear on a Stinson release, not counting the artists themselves and (Charlie) Stinson of course.

Amusement Machines
Release Previews

… Stinson Trading Company, New York, is releasing the first in a series of 10 disks taken from the Soviet film Girl From Leningrad. Sides are Red Army Nurses Arrive at the Front and Red Army Nurses' Song….”
[Billboard, 18 April 1942, p.67]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 08 Jan 21 - 02:35 AM

Long citation, bold type added:

“Songs of Our Allies Open Eyes of Dealers Beset by Top-Line Record Shortage

NEW YORK, Oct. 31.-American public opinion having swung behind our war allies, Russia and China particularly, the fighting songs of those nations, on records and sheet music, are finding a tremendously popular market. Demand is accounted for not only by pro-ally sentiment but also by the fact that the chopping of production by the major recording companies, because of war and Petrillo, has left many dealers stock-hungry.

Dealers here and nationally report that, with little stuff available from Victor, Decca, Columbia and Capitol, they are anxious to exploit other wax fields where product is available. So a steady trade in Russian and other foreign recordings has been developing in larger stores, such as Macy's and Gimbel Brothers, here; Grinnell Brothers in Detroit, and the whole Allied chain. Many others have hooked up with the foreign wax field, The Davega, stores here signing with Keynote Recordings to handle latter's releases. Keynote and the Stinson Trading Company are the leading producers of Soviet and Chinese records here, the former including Russian issues as part of a catalog devoted to the "fighting songs of any fighting nation." According to Eric Bernay, head of Keynote, biz upped terrifically about four months ago when prejudices against Russian and other foreign songs dissolved considerably.

Typical dealer-handling of the Russ music trade is exhibited by music shop in Stanley Theater here. Shop gets 21 per cent of its trade from people attracted by advertising in Russian and Slavic dailies and weeklies. Mischa. Balanov's three - times -a - week WBYN Russian language program, which plugs the new Russian and Slavic releases, also is credited with some of the patronage. Sixty-five per cent of the trade comes from patrons of the Stanley Theater, which first-runs Soviet and foreign films. Interest is perked by a 90-second trailer, which runs to the accompaniment of a Russian record, changed weekly, also by ad space in the theater's program sheets and also by announcements to outgoing patrons from theater's doorman. Another hunk of business comes from mail orders. Shop's current best-selling album is The Red Army Sings, six disks. Both Keynote recordings and Stinson's World's Fair label are stocked.

Keynote, small but growing, has about 15 albums in its catalog and features about 10 single sides retailing at 75 cents, as well as an extensive list of Russian folk songs at 50 cents. Forthcoming are three new albums: (1) Cante Andaluz–Songs of Andalucia; (2) Red Army Fighting Songs, and (3) Guerrilla Songs–Fighting Songs of the Yugoslavians, A pop series, launched lately, initialed with Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, backed by Marching Thru Berlin. Keynote, according' to Berney, [sic] can deliver quantity to any or all dealers immediately because of surplus supplies laid in when production problems became imminent.

Since the war has made it impossible to import records from Russia, the Stinson Trading Company is turning out new records and albums taken off the sound tracks of Soviet films. Soviet Songs From Soviet Films, new album, comes out this week, and Moscow Strikes Back, a four-record album, was released September 9. Both have introductions in English by Noel Meadow, who controls the musical score of Artkino films; royalties go to Artkino. Demand for English lyrics to Russian songs mounted so much in this country that Stinson arranged for original lyrics and English translations to be printed on the inside cover of all subsequent Russian albums. It has also published a 50-page book entitled The Most Popular Songs From Soviet Union, retailing at 50 cents.”
[Billboard, 7 Nov., 1942, p.25]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 08 Jan 21 - 02:37 AM

Retail Records-Sheet Music
Fighting Songs

Stinson Trading Company, New York, is releasing this week a four-record album, Soviet Songs From Soviet Films. Taken off the sound-track of Artkino films, disks include Red Army Nurses' Song from Girl of From Leningrad; Song of the Fatherland, from Quentin Reynolds's [sic] documentary One Day in Soviet Russia, and other USSR melodies.

Keynote Recording. Company, also in New York, issues on December 15 another fighting-song package, Songs of the Yugoslavian Guerrillas.”
[Billboard 12 Dec 1942, p.25]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 11 Jan 21 - 12:56 PM

This one is really, really long. In defense, at this stage Noel Meadow is now Stinson Trading's sole and exclusive supplier of A&R; press agent & liner notes writer and owner of their top New York retail outlet, all-in-one. His influence over Bernay & Keynote is not far behind. By those same job titles, I would disagree with Straw's observation that Meadow's ...personal political commitments are not clear….:

“The documentary ?lm, regarded as one of our chief war born boons, need not be an end-of-the-war casualty, like female welders.
Noel Meadow, Screen Writer (1946)

In 1943, Noel Meadow, a New York publicist and one-time tabloid journalist, bought the Stanley Theatre in Manhattan for the purpose of exhibiting wartime documentary ?lms. Meadow had been the press agent for the Stanley in 1942, when it broke U.S. attendance records for a Soviet ?lm with Guerrilla Brigade, the American release of the 1938 ?ction ?lm Vsadniki. Set during the First World War, Vsadniki was produced to glorify the Soviet Army on the eve of World War II, and its U.S. release in the midst of that war was part of the broader nurturing (and exploitation) of U.S.-Soviet solidarity. Over the next two years, and in collaboration with producers like Maurice Lev or Joseph Plunkett, Meadow assembled war-related documentary feature ?lms out of newsreels and other available footage, showing them at the Stanley and distributing them throughout the United States. These features included compilation titles such as One Inch from Victory (which used enemy footage provided by the Soviets) and What Price Italy?

At the end of the war, Meadow formed Noel Meadow Associates, to undertake the American distribution of films imported from Europe. The ?rst ?lm handled by the new company was the French ?ction ?lm Resistance (Peleton d’Execution, André Berthomieu, 1945). Resistance catered to an American interest in topical, war-related ?lms but signaled as well the shift by Meadow and other independent distributors away from an exclusive interest in documentaries. The U.S. release of Resistance was one step in Meadow’s effort to develop a broader, postwar market for European feature ?lms in the United States, building outward from specialized cinema houses in Manhattan. Over the next decade, Meadow imported, promoted,and occasionally wrote the subtitles for such ?lms as Dedée (Yves Allegret, 1948), L’Aigle à deux têtes (Jean Cocteau, 1948), and El (Luis Buñuel, 1952). His various companies, such as Omni ?lms and Uniworld, distributed foreign features alongside domestically produced educational ?lms and documentaries.

Noel Meadow (who died in 1968) was a minor but emblematic ?gure in the wartime and postwar culture of the American Left. His name is absent from the available lists of those blacklisted or witch hunted, and his personal political commitments are not clear. Nevertheless, Meadow’s creative and entrepreneurial activities in the 1930s and 1940s followed the key pathways of progressive American culture. In the 1930s, Meadow had co-produced a stage comedy dealing with matrimony in the new Soviet Union, and reported for American magazines on developments in Soviet dance. His writing output in the 1940s included liner notes for 78rpm albums released by the fellow-traveling Stinson record label, among them “Fighting Songs of the U.S.S.R.: Songs That Glori?ed the Unconquerable Red Army” and “Memphis Favorites,” by the New Orleans jazz band the Memphis Five. In their combination, these albums occupy signi?cant portions of that terrain of progressive af?nities which Michael Denning has called the “cultural front.” While serving as managing editor of the New York—based trade paper Writers’ Journal, Meadow wrote regularly for the Screen Writer , the journal of the Screen Writer’s Guild, during the period of its most intense radicalism.”
[Straw, Documentary Realism and the Postwar Left, 2007, pp.130-131]


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 14 Jan 21 - 07:44 PM

Matthew Barton describes Noel Meadow as “...the kind of person who may have brought different people together in the Stinson story...” One of those people is song plugger-concessionaire Herbert Harris. At last!

From above:
“Typical dealer-handling of the Russ music trade is exhibited by music shop in Stanley Theater here.... Sixty-five per cent of the trade comes from patrons of the Stanley Theater, which first-runs Soviet and foreign films. Interest is perked by a 90-second trailer, which runs to the accompaniment of a Russian record, changed weekly, also by ad space in the theater's program sheets and also by announcements to outgoing patrons from theater's doorman.”

Barton says Herbert Harris ran the concession at the Stanley Theatre on 7th Ave. Moses Asch biographer Peter Goldsmith has him as “...a party member who ran a movie house on Forty-sixth Street that played Soviet films.” Possibly the Miami Playhouse, another local Artkino venue and Stinson retail outlet.

Everybody skips Harris' bio, so I will too except to point out – it's a decade or so since Irving Prosky joined the firm and Herbert Harris is third man in after Noel Meadow.

The soundtrack albums are a step up in production value from the bootleg singles but Stinson Trading Co. is still a distributor, not a record label. America is in the war and they still have not earned a shellac ration.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 14 Jan 21 - 07:51 PM

Without a doubt, hands down the most famous name Noel Meadow is supposed to have brought into the Stinson story is the legendary Moses Asch. We think, maybe… or not. It is, after all, Moses Asch.

Fun trying to correctly name & date just one Moe Asch recording - Songs of the Lincoln Battalion:

“Songs of the Lincoln Battalion is a 1940 Asch album by several members of the Almanac Singers: Baldwin 'Butch' Hawes, Bess Lomax Hawes and Pete Seeger, along with Tom Glazer. The album presents "the songs of the men who left home and safety behind them in 1937 to fight Fascism" in Spain.” [wiki]

The footnote for the 1940 release date is the liner notes for Folkways, FW05436 Songs of the Spanish Civil War, Vol. I; a compilation of the Almanac's Songs of the Lincoln Battalion and Six Songs for Democracy sung by Ernst Busch and Chorus.

“Songs of the Lincoln Brigade was first recorded in New York (Asch, 1942, 78 rpm)...” [pg.3]

What actually got released was Songs of the Lincoln Brigade, Asch Records, 300. This Moe Asch record label, his third, was the joint venture with The Stinson Trading Co., effective 27 January 1943.

fwiw: Six Songs for Democracy, titled Discos De Las Brigadas Internacionales España, Keynote 101, 1940, was that label's first set in “The Music Room's International Series.”


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 17 Jan 21 - 08:17 PM

The only other pre-WWII candidate in the discography for Moe Asch's second record label is Huddie Leadbetter's Play Parties in Song and Dance. It's with the rarest of the rare Asch/Leadbetter releases.

Per Goldsmith and others, recorded May, 1941 and released in “Autumn, 1941.” I can't nail it down any closer yet, including the oft mention Walter Winchell review.

Otoh, neither could I dismiss it anything like The Lincoln Brigade release.

Upshot being, Asch Recordings will only exist for the calendar year 1942. Counter to urban legend, Asch label #2 will ramp up production throughout its lifetime with no government shellac ration to speak of.

In the same interval, Stinson Trading Co. will limit itself to distribution of the Soviet bootlegs & soundtrack dubs and so be entitled to even less of a shellac ration than Asch Recordings.

The Asch-Stinson shellac rationing narrative runs bass-ackwards to basic material requirements planning 101.


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Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 17 Jan 21 - 08:20 PM

Asch-Stinson per Goldsmith:
“It is possible that the meagerness of the (Leadbelly) sales was partially a function of the shellac shortage. Though Asch may have had sufficient material in his vaults on acetate to keep him going through the recording ban, the shellac shortage was providing him with serious trouble. The solution he arrived at was in finding someone with the opposite problem – plenty of shellac and no material to release. Herbert Harris was a party member who ran a movie house on Forty-sixth Street that played Soviet films. When the Soviet Union pulled its exhibit from the 1939 New York World's Fair at the time of the Hitler-Stalin pact, Harris was given their stock of Soviet records to sell. A few of the records were renditions of Russian folk songs, including the stunning recordings of traditional Byelorussian songs and dances by the Piatnitsky Chorus, which had appeared at the world's fair that year. But many others were frankly propagandistic, such as “Red Army Nurses Arrive at the Front” or “March of the Partisans.” Harris sold the Soviet recordings out of his Union Square store, Stinson Trading Company. When his initial stock was exhausted, he pressed more. Thus by the time of the shellac shortage Stinson had pressed enough records that he was entitled to a significant allotment. But the market for Soviet recordings – even in the heyday of American communism – was not vast and consequently Harris was looking for additional material to release.

The arrangement made between Harris and Asch appears to have been relatively casual; if documents ever changed hands, they have not survived. Asch's material would be pressed and marketed by Harris under the Asch-Stinson label, and Asch would receive a share of the royalties. The agreement became effective on 27 January 1943. Thereafter, and until the conclusion of the of the war, all of Asch's material – whether it appeared on the Asch or Asch-Stinson label – was sold through the Stinson Trading Company in Union Square. In these years few people – and the artists least of all – distinguished between Asch and Stinson. It was a single company in the eyes of most, and for a period of three years Herbert Harris became a part of the circle gradually growing up around Asch Records.”
[Making People's Music: Moe Asch and Folkways Records, Goldsmith, 1998, pp.109-110]


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