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Stinson Records Revisted

24 Nov 20 - 02:50 AM (#4080755)
Subject: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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

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.

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."”

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

24 Nov 20 - 02:52 AM (#4080756)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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”

24 Nov 20 - 02:55 AM (#4080757)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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


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.

24 Nov 20 - 02:57 AM (#4080758)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

24 Nov 20 - 11:38 AM (#4080806)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Deckman


24 Nov 20 - 09:12 PM (#4080873)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

24 Nov 20 - 09:20 PM (#4080876)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

24 Nov 20 - 09:36 PM (#4080879)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

24 Nov 20 - 09:57 PM (#4080880)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Thomas Stern

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!

25 Nov 20 - 07:50 PM (#4080958)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

25 Nov 20 - 07:57 PM (#4080959)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

25 Nov 20 - 07:58 PM (#4080960)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

25 Nov 20 - 08:12 PM (#4080963)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: Thomas Stern

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 ??


Have a safe and Healthy Thanksgiving!

27 Nov 20 - 01:17 PM (#4081144)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

03 Dec 20 - 10:04 PM (#4081842)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

03 Dec 20 - 10:12 PM (#4081843)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

03 Dec 20 - 11:17 PM (#4081849)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GerryM

“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.

07 Dec 20 - 07:55 PM (#4082331)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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 .

07 Dec 20 - 07:57 PM (#4082332)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

07 Dec 20 - 08:16 PM (#4082336)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

“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.

10 Dec 20 - 09:15 AM (#4082727)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

10 Dec 20 - 09:24 AM (#4082729)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

10 Dec 20 - 09:31 AM (#4082730)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

04 Jan 21 - 09:10 PM (#4086533)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

“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.

04 Jan 21 - 09:16 PM (#4086534)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

04 Jan 21 - 09:25 PM (#4086535)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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:
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

06 Jan 21 - 03:18 AM (#4086661)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

06 Jan 21 - 03:24 AM (#4086663)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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:

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]

06 Jan 21 - 03:25 AM (#4086664)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

08 Jan 21 - 02:35 AM (#4087002)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

08 Jan 21 - 02:37 AM (#4087003)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

11 Jan 21 - 12:56 PM (#4087520)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

14 Jan 21 - 07:44 PM (#4088007)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

14 Jan 21 - 07:51 PM (#4088008)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.”

17 Jan 21 - 08:17 PM (#4088510)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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.

17 Jan 21 - 08:20 PM (#4088511)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

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]

07 Apr 21 - 08:17 PM (#4101280)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

The main problem with the Goldsmith bio, including the shellac rationing narative, is that it relies on the standard Stinson company history which we now know is full of holes. Stinson Records, as a commerical record label, still does not exist in 1943.

The only label the Asch & Stinson names appear together on is the “Asch International” series. It looks to be Moe Asch's very limited continuation of the like-named series on Eric Bernay's Keynote label (see above.)

It is notable for the first appearance of what some discograpers refer to as Stinson's 'chicken logo' (a weathervane rooster or cockerel) and also the clasped hands logo. Typical: Josh White – Folk Songs Sung By Josh White, Asch International, 358. The common interwebs release year given is 1944, caveat emptor. There are few reliable sources for Moe Asch or Stinson release dates.

Stinson Trading Company, Noel Meadow et al also continued to do business directly with Artkino independent of servicing Moe Asch's label(s):

“The Stinson Trading Company on four ten-inch records, gives us Music of Soviet Republics, a collection of eight colorful and inherent songs.”
[Rogers, Helen, Off the Record, Ithacan, 22 April 1943, p.3, c.3]

07 Apr 21 - 08:20 PM (#4101281)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Early shellac rationing stuff:

Phonograph Record Output Ordered Cut 70 Per Cent
By the Associated Press
The War Production Board issued orders today forcing an immediate 70 per cent reduction in the manufacture of phonograph records and radio transcriptions.

The curtailment was accomplished by reducing the amount of shellac available to producers to 30 per cent of the amount used last year.

Shellac is a necessity in record manufacture, a W.P.B. spokesman explained, and the record industry normally uses about one-third of the Nation's annual shellac consumption.

Experiments were being pushed, it was said, to find a suitable substitute and reclaiming of old records probably will be attempted.

The board directed industries using shellac, except record manufacturers, to reduce their consumption 25 per cent below last year's levels between now and June 30, and curtail 65 per cent thereafter.

India is virtually the sole source of this country's supplies of shellac, W.P.B. pointed out, and imports are subject to shipping hazards.

Exceptions from the restriction order included electrical equipment, coating for munitions, military explosives, navigational and scientific instruments, communication instruments and marine paints for vessels other than pleasure craft.”
[The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., 14 April 1942, p.1]

07 Apr 21 - 08:24 PM (#4101282)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Diskers Still Fear Shellac Grab by Govt.
NEW YORK, Aug. 29. – After more than four months of shellac rationing, during which there has been one alteration in the government's method of doling out the stuff and at least 5,000 rumors about as many other alterations, there continues to be no basis in fact for fears that War Production Board intends to cut off diskers' supply.

When the most recent WPB shellac order was released, stating that diskers will henceforth be required to make formal application for each allotment of shellac, some assumed that all was over and that scrap would be the only source of the material. However, the industry filed their requisition forms and were granted 15 per cent of last year's consumption during the last half of August and all of September for the corresponding period this year. The order naturally applies to all firms.

While 15 per cent of last year's September consumption might not seem like a lot for use in September, 1942, none of the record firms are squawking. Shellac scrap salvage brings in heartening amounts of the substance, and the amount of shellac in this year's record has been cut down.

Only complaints from diskers come when they give way to fears that the next time they apply for shellac they will get only 10 per cent, or 5 per cent, or no shellac at all.

Should it become necessary for the government to use all shellac there is always the mysterious George Clark whose Clark Phonograph Company in Newark, N.J., is said to have been manufacturing shellacless platters for Capitol Records. Clark refuses to discuss the matter with executives of the major outfits. His lack of responsiveness leads to the belief that his shellacless disk formula is not procurable in sufficient quantity to make it worth while to them.

Meanwhile the big companies continue to wrestle with their own various substitutes and can be expected to have them worked out in plenty of time should they ever be needed.

Firms have until the end of September on the present 15 per cent basis. They persist in believing that after that WPB will cut them off on the ground that they have ample time to develop adequate substitutes. It should be remembered, however, that they have been prophesying such doom ever since the beginning of the shellac trouble. Even should their morbid forebodings eventually pan out, competent observers assure that, between scrap salvage and substitutes, they'll get along fine.”
[Billboard, Amusement Machines, 5 Sept. 1942, p.62]

18 Apr 21 - 06:53 PM (#4102651)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

In practice what the preceding means is there were probably no more than a dozen U.S. media companies that could produce the required War Production Board shellac documentation.

The Big 3 of Capitol, Columbia & RCA owned a combined +90% market share. Independent producers like Asch, Keynote and Stinson didn't own record presses. They contracted mostly with one of two independent east coast record pressing companies.

Early on, Asch Recordings/Records split their business between Scranton Record and the aforementioned Clark Phonograph Co. The latter is an oft listed creditor in the Asch bios.

When the Stinson record label finally does make an appearance in this thread, Clark Phonograph will be getting the manufacturing credits.

There is even a bit of discography folklore that claims Prince Igor, Asch Records, S-800, 1945 is the first 'vinyl' recording made for the retail market. If true at all, probably a Stinson Trading Company fugace-semi-bootleg pressed after the split-up and probably made of Formvar or some other early vinyl attempt, not Vinylite per se.

But….definitely the sort of 1940s advanced materials science stuff the FBI had been arresting Soviet spies for, btw (see Keynote, above.)

25 Apr 21 - 01:24 AM (#4103430)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Here is the FBI confirming Matthew Barton's dates for Stinson Trading and reflecting Isidor, Isidore, Isadore (Irving) Prosky as a founding partner. Mind the caps:

“On August 9, 1946 Special Agent WILLIAM O. McCUE advised that Confidential Informant [redacted] whose identity is known to the Bureau, stated that the S&P PHONOGRAPH RADIO SUPPLY COMPANY was owned by IRVING PROSKY, age 52, married, and HERBERT HARRIS, age 53, married, who were partners. The STINSON TRADING COMPANY was started by IRVING PROSKY and CHARLES R. STINSON in February, 1933, and was succeeded by the STINSON TRADING CORPORATION on April 18, 1936. This was dissolved in the latter part of 1937 when PROSKY and STINSON continued as partners until STINSON died March 24, 1938. Then the business was conducted as the S&P PHONOGRAPH RADIO SUPPLY COMPANY with PROSKY as manager. One MOE ASCH, formerly a partner, withdrew January 1, 1946, and established the ASCH RECORDING STUDIOS at 17 West 46th Street. HERBERT HARRIS was born in the United States and had been connected with the concessions business in 144 theaters. The S&P PHONOGRAPH RADIO SUPPLY COMPANY is the agent for manufacturers and jobbers of phonograph records selling to the trade and to individuals, and has an account at the AMALGAMATED BANK, Union Square, New York City.”
[FBI Silvermaster File, Pt.73, October 1946, NY 65-14603, p.82-85]
FBI Silvermaster File

Note: The file pages are a jumble and the above is just the Stinson stuff. See PDF page# 357.

30 Jun 21 - 11:37 PM (#4111965)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

1941 – Bit of Asch-Gretsch trivia plus an indication of Asch's pre-Stinson retail sales:

“According to Asch's records, he had sold seventy-three copies of Work Songs [of the U.S.A.] between May and September; another one hundred were sold by the Fred Gretsch Company, a manufacturer and retailer of records. Combined with the nineteen copies of Play Parties that Asch had sold in the same period of time, Leadbelly had earned a grand total of $11.58 in royalties.”
[Goldsmith, p.109]

30 Jun 21 - 11:45 PM (#4111966)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

More pre-Stinson Asch trivia hot on the heels of the Leadbelly releases. Lot's of familiar names here and the genesis of what will become the core of Asch Recordings', and by extension Stinson Trading Company's, folk A&R:

““PROGRESSIVE'S Almanac” is a calendar of meetings, dances, luncheons, and cultural activities within the progressive movement. This list is published in connection with NEW MASSES' Clearing Bureau, created for the purpose of avoiding conflicting dates for various affairs. Fraternal organizations, trade unions, political bodies, etc., are urged to notify NEW MASSES Clearing Bureau of events which they have scheduled. Service of the Clearing Bureau is free. A fee of one dollar per listing will be charged for all affairs listed in this column.”
[Progressive's Almanac, New Masses, 25 Nov. 1941, p.30]

“Meanwhile in New York, the Almanac Singers (as they were by now calling themselves) had become the toast of the Left. The three core members moved to more spacious quarters on Twelfth Street and Fourth Avenue, and this became the site of regular Sunday afternoon rent-raising sing-alongs. They were joined by Josh White, Burl Ives, Sonny Terry, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Aunt Molly Jackson, and others. The Almanacs' loft became the gathering place of New York's folk establishment. In a matter of months, there was talk of making a record. The majors would have nothing to do with music whose appeal was so narrow and lyrics so provocative. In the spring of 1941 Asch's commercial recording operation was barely up and running, and besides he had long been a Roosevelt man and would probably have wanted nothing to do with the pacifism implied in such songs as Lampell's “The Ballad of October 16th.” On that date in 1940 the federal government instituted the country's first peacetime military conscription. The meaning of the song's chorus could hardly be mistaken:

        Oh Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt,
        We dammed near believed what he said.
        He said “I hate war and so does Eleanor but
        We won't be safe till everybody's dead.”

It was not until Alan Lomax and his colleagues at NBC approached Eric Bernay, a former editor of the New Masses, that an arrangement was made for a commercial recording. Bernay, who had been instrumental in convincing New Masses to sponsor Hammond's From Spirituals to Swing concert in 1938, ran a miniscule recording operation in New York called Keynote Records. Even Bernay was skittish about releasing the Almanacs' provocative songs on his label, so when they appeared that June as Songs for John Doe the label read Almanac Records rather than Keynote. Asch might have been more receptive to the Almanacs' second release, Talking Union and Other Union Songs, recorded later that spring (Asch would in fact reissue Talking Union on LP in the mid-1950s). But the deal had already been made with Bernay (who this time was willing to use his label's name), and besides, Asch's first plunge outside the Jewish market with Leadbelly's Play Parties was still some months away.”
[Goldsmith, p.123]

01 Jul 21 - 12:22 AM (#4111972)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Everybody speculates on Asch Recording's lack of pre-Stinson market success. As above, the standard 'shellac rationing' urban legend doesn't hold up to review.

In fact, I've looked high and low, with zero success, for whatever became of Charlie Stinson's warehouses and retail store(s) full of bargain bin shellac records and old aluminum masters. Either it all caught a slow boat to Russia or Stinson Trading was not a ration-starved shellac consumer but rather a net supplier to industry or…?

Skipping ahead, post war records labeled “NON-BREAKABLE (under normal use)” like Stinson 3160 and others shown in the Barton lectures are not made of shellac. They are the early attempts at substitutes mentioned above and here:

“The reclamation of shellac from old records began almost at once; the surfaces that resulted from the reclamation process were rough and noisy, but until a substitute was found for shellac there was little alternative (by August, the Clark Phonograph Company in Newark, New Jersey, was pressing records for a new company – Capitol – using a secret shellac substitute). Nationwide drives were established to collect some portion of the estimated two hundred million records then “cluttering up the attics, cellars and closets of the American home.” For a short time, the majors cut the shipping of records to a minimum and stopped recording altogether.”
[Goldsmith, p.107]
LoC Now See Hear! – Scrap for Victory!

The Petrillo Ban also gets a lot of coverage but Asch rarely used union musicians; temporarily switched to a 12” format incompatible with the offending jukebox tech (standard 10”) and was one of the first to settle with the union. Stinson Trading/Artkino didn't pay royalties to anyone but themselves, period, paragraph.

01 Jul 21 - 02:11 PM (#4112017)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Whatever their reason(s) the Asch-Stinson distribution deal took effect 23 January 1943 [Goldsmith]. The new year is the start of the second half of the Asch Recordings discography, the part 'offically' sold to Stinson Trading in 1945; who will nevertheless bootleg/fugace the first half anyway.

Here is Stinson/Arkino exec Noel Meadow buying the Stanley outright and also adding the Playhouse theater to the Arkino chain. According the FBI's Silvermaster file (above) Herbert Harris managed at total of 144 theater concessions. This in addition to Stinson Trading Co's several wholesale distributors:

“…55th St. Playhouse is now under new management, having been taken over by Noel Meadow, former newspaperman and publicity agent, who recently acquired the Stanley Theatre.”
[Daily News, NY, 23 Dec., 1943, p.174]

01 Jul 21 - 02:17 PM (#4112018)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Moe Asch still independent as:


Asch Recording Studios
117 West 46th Street
New York”
[Billboard Music Yearbook, 1943, p.120]

And getting Bob Theil's Signature label tangled up with Stinson Trading Company and the Petrillo Ban:

Signature-Asch-BMI Tie On
NEW YORK, July 1.–Asch Records, specialists in American folk music, will not participate in the BMI plan for exploitation of original compositions of hot jazz thru radio station disk jockeys. On the other hand, as pressers and distributors of Signature Records, the Asch firm will handle at least two of the proposed hot numbers but under the Signature label.”
[Billboard, 8 July 1944, p.16]

03 Jul 21 - 04:57 PM (#4112222)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Typical of the many jazz and folk artists that signed up for the second half:

Mary Lou Signs For Four Plates
NEW YORK CITY – (SNS) – Asch Recording Co., 117 W. 46 Street, announces that the famed and celebrated Mary Lou Williams, top notcher pianist and arranger has been signed to an extensive contract.

Tow [sic] records (4 sides) are scheduled for the wax, and include two of Mary Lou's original compositions, (titles not yet released).

Her first album was recently released by the same company and are being hailed as a “Must” by all critics and music enthusiasts. It includes three original solos, and three numbers played with accompanying musicians.”
[Jackson Advocate (MS), 15 July 1944, p.7]

The good times barely survived WWII and what is known as the “Asch-Stinson” label that comes next actually represents the end of the partnership not the beginning. Asch Records same-same.

03 Jul 21 - 04:58 PM (#4112223)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

The old Asch Recordings and the new Asch Records & Asch-Stinson labels side-by-side in 1945 before the break-up contracts have even been drawn up:

Langston Hughes Records Poems
NEW YORK – (ANP) – An album of poems by Langston Hughes is being released by Asch Recordings, 117 W. 46th st. N.Y. City.”
[Detroit Tribune, 17 March 1945, p.2]

“Asch-Stinson” display ad. Union Square address.
[The Record Changer, Vol.4, No.1, March, 1945]

FOR SALE – New in stock, 10,000 snappy polkas all instrumental on Harmonic Records, every one a nickle grabber. In addition to these we have Jerry Jerome on Asch Records Send your orders in for quick delivery. Catalogs sent on request, All records 49¢ prepaid if cash with orders, also C.O.D., F.O.B. Detroit.
[The Cash Box, Vol.6 No.33, 8 May 1945, Sec 2, p2]

03 Jul 21 - 05:01 PM (#4112224)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

A frustrated Bob Theil is the first to jump ship taking the Signature record label with him:

Signature Blossoms With Pressing Plant; Skedding Big Bands
NEW YORK, June 2. -Latest of the small record companies to try to ease into big time is Signature Records. The indie diskery, under the guidance of Bob Thiel, was formerly a very smalll outfit whose platters were pressed and released by Asch Records on a royalty basis. Expansion, which is being financed by several big business men with an eye toward tapping the disk gold mine, include alarge pressing plant already open for biz. Included in the new set-up is Signature Distributing Corporation, located. In the same building, which is geared to distrib new platters thru a chain of 16 major wholesalers.”
[Billboard, 9 June 1945, p.33]

05 Jul 21 - 02:24 PM (#4112397)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Things continued slide downhill throughout 1945. Even Woody Guthrie, on the road touring for the FDR campaign, complained about Moe Asch's disappearing act. The problem, apparently, wasn't just letters and telegrams but purchase orders; invoices and all the other bits & chits. The back orders piled up. Stinson Trading made at least two 'unauthorized' releases of Asch studio artists (Ruth Rubin &c.) which got Moe Asch hauled into civil court on more than one occasion.

Here's an advert reflecting the new/shortened brand name. Asch is still listed as Prez but, as we shall see, it's temporary. Note, the Pacific Allied Products location in Los Angeles, California is also the future west coast home of the (still) future Stinson Records. The Harris family lived in an apartment above the shop before relocating to the better known San Fernando Valley address.

Asch Records
117 West 46th St., New York 19, N. Y.
President and sales manager: Moe Asch

Products Manufactured Phonograph records and albums.

Allied Music Sales, 3112 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Mich.
Interstate Music Suppliers Co., 1328 Broadway, New York 1, N. Y.
Music Distributing Co., 1408 West 9th St., Cleveland, 0.
Nelson & Co., 1000 South Linwood Ave., Baltimore, Md.
Pacific Allied Products Co., 814 West 8th St., Los Angeles, Calif.
Sni-Dor Radiolectric, Ltd., 455 Craig St., W., Montreal, Canada.
Stinson Trading Co., 27 Union Square West, New York 3, N. Y.
[Record Retailing Yearbook, 1945, p.282]

05 Jul 21 - 02:27 PM (#4112399)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

The paperwork catches up with reality… finally:

“To prepare for the impending dissolution of the partnership, Asch began to make an inventory of his masters. On one list he enumerated the masters he had recorded between 9 December 1940 and 3 January 1943, that is, until the time of the partnership. These would be off limits to [Herbert] Harris. A second list consisted of the masters recorded since the partnership and until the present – 25 November [1945]. Two contracts were ultimately signed by Asch, Harris, Harris's partner Irving Prosky, and their repsective lawyers. The essence of the first contract, dated 2 December, was that Asch would sell to Harris and Prosky, for the sum of $6,267, all of the masters on the 25 November list, although, perhaps for sentimental reasons, Asch exempted In the Beginning, “Kol Nidre/Eli Eli,” and his second Leadbelly album. For a period of fifteen months Harris and Prosky would be permitted to use the name Asch Records while Asch would be forbidden to do so. Prosky and Harris forfeited any rights to Asch Recording Studios, and they agreed to hire Asch, at a weekly salary of $125, in order that he might instruct them in the “method and technique of 'completing records.'” Asch would only be obliged to remain in the employment of Stinson until he had completed the production of three albums: Adan and Eve, an album of French poetry licensed from the French Broadcasting Company, Mary Lou William's Signs of the Zodiac, and a new album of folk songs by Josh White. The agreement also stipulated that Asch would never make or sell any records with the same title and by the same artist as those that he had sold under the Asch-Stinson label.”
[Goldsmith, p.169]

Note: Neither party would honor the letter or the spirit of the contracts and the lawyers and accountants are still keeping busy unto the present day.

08 Jul 21 - 04:31 AM (#4112677)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Somehow this got left out of the wartime shellac rationing/recycling stuff up-thread.

It's clear from this and other letters Asch Recordings was not entitled to a hard ration. Rather the pressing plants were considered the raw shellac end users and the limits were imposed upstream of independent labels like Asch & Stinson.

Also, I haven't seen anything to suggest the month-old distribution deal with Stinson Trading Co. would give Moe Asch control of Charlie Stinson's old cut-out inventory. Those decisions would come from Prosky/Harris/Meadow &co.

“I am preparing the order along the lines of your letter of March 18 with the anticipation that it will be accepted at Scranton. As you know, all our customers are on a quota basis and at the present time our complete production is allocated. However, it should be possible for us to work in an additional 1121 records at some time, but our ability to make these records is no guarantee of our ability to make larger quantities at a future date.

Incidentally, have you anything in mind about furnishing us with some scrap for which we will, of course, pay at the regular rate?”
[John Griffin, Scranton Record Co., to Moe Asch, 22 March 1943 in Folkways Records, Olmstead, 2003, p.26]

13 Jul 21 - 08:38 AM (#4113198)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Typical early '46 press release:
Asch Splits With Stinson; Launches Own Disk firm
NEW YORK, Dec 31. – Moe Asch has split up with the Stinson Trading Company and will launch record firm of his own to be tagged Disc, it was learned here this week.

Stinson company understood to be continuing with the Asch label until present supply of masters is used up and after that, firm run by Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky, may alter plans.

Meanwhile Asch has already started on his own, using same distrib set-up and pressing arrangements.”
[Billboard, 5 Jan 1946, p.16]

13 Jul 21 - 08:43 AM (#4113199)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

And those mysterious '30th Anniversary' blurbs and Stinson's own new recording studio. Set up by Moe Asch himself if Goldsmith is correct:
Stinson Enlarges Disc Activities
New expansion of production and distribution activities, celebrating a 30th anniversary, is underway at the Stinson Trading Co. Inc., 27 Union Sq., New York City, record distributors.

The company has purchased the interest of Moe Asch, but will continue to distribute under both the Stinson and Asch-Stinson labels, the latter by special arrangement.

Offices are being enlarged by 10,000 sq. ft., providing expanded stockrooms and modern artists' recording studio. Officers are Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky.

At least three albums and ten 10 in. and 12 in. individual waxings will be made and released each month. Additional jobbers are joining the present list of distribution outlets.

The Stinson output includes American folk songs; boogie woogie of the “classical” school; progressive and American folk recordings; cowboy and Western songs; foreign songs, especially Russian, sung and played by exponents of the specialized type of music. Artists include Mary Lou Williams, Art Tatum, Burl Ives, Josh White, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Memphis 5, Kenneth Spencer, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Guthrie, Stuff Smith, Meade Lux Lewis, John Kirby, Lead Belly, and others.”
[Radio & Television Retailing, July 1946, p.102]

See also: Stinson Celebrates 30th Anniversary in Disk Biz, Coin Machines, Billboard, 1 June 1946, p.102 (above)

13 Jul 21 - 08:47 AM (#4113202)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

The legal jousting over who owned what began before the ink was dry on the contracts:

Denies Reported Sale
An item in our July '46 issue, headed “Stinson Enlarges Disc Activities”, had reported that the Stinson Trading Co., New York City, had purchased the interests of Moe Asch.

A spokesman for Mr. Asch now advises that the Stinson Trading Co. did not purchase the interest of Moe Asch; also that Stinson Trading Co., has no right to use the Asch-Stinson label. Mr. Asch gave Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky, officers of Stinson, individually, a license to use the Asch-Stinson label until March 3, 1947, but the license is not transferable and its use is expressly restricted to certain specified recordings made on or before Dec. 3, 1945, the spokesman said.”
[Radio & Television Retailing, August 1946, p.137]

20 Jul 21 - 08:21 PM (#4113935)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Goldsmith, Olmstead and all the rest refer to Disc Records as Moe Asch's second record label. Depending on how one parses Story Time Records and Asch-Stinson International &c it's more like the fifth or sixth to carry the Asch brand name.

Into all that chaos walked an unsuspecting Norman Granz with the Jazz at the Philharmonic series. Barton names JATP, Volume I as Stinson Trading Company's all-time best seller. It's certainly in the top two discographies along with Burl Ives' The Wayfaring Stranger.

Asch bought the rights to at least two songs from Grantz (How High the Moon & Lady be Good) in August, 1945. Four months later in December he resold the rights and the six masters he had prepared to Stinson Trading Co. without Granz' knowledge and without a record ever being pressed.

No two of the three parties agreed on who bought what from whom or for how much. Granz-v-Harris, and all its appeals & settlements, still gets cited in publishing case law. Google it and have fun.

At the end of the day Stinson Trading Co. pressed only the two songs mentioned above and only on the new Asch Records label, with its new and improved lefty logo. As above, controlled by Stinson Trading Co. alone, if only for fifteen months. The questionable represses & reissues & bootlegs that followed were another matter.

Granz managed to claw back the rights to all the rest of his music. Volumes 2-5 would appear only on Moe Asch's new Disc Records label.

20 Jul 21 - 08:32 PM (#4113936)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Noel Meadow still soldiering on at Stinson Trading Co.:

Stinson Price Reductions
Price reductions, ranging from 10 to 35 percent, have been announced by the Stinson Record Co. Dealers have been asked to pass complete reduction on to customers, in pursuance of a policy designed to help in the war against inflation.

Another Stinson announcement was that Noel Meadow, publicity director for Stinson, will also write an introduction for all future albums. His first was for "Memphis Five Favorites", now being released. Stinson are specialists in jazz, jive, classical, boogie-woogie, American folk songs and foreign and novelty discs.”
[Radio & Television Retailing, September 1946, p.64]

20 Jul 21 - 09:26 PM (#4113939)
Subject: RE: Stinson Records Revisted
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Irving Prosky, last of the (two) Stinson Trading Company founding fathers otoh:

Irving Prosky Withdraws From Stinson Trading Co.
NEW YORK, Dec. 21. – Irving Proskey [sic] has withdrawn from the partnership in Stinson Trading Company, distributors of Stinson and Asch-Stinson records, because of illness, and the entire business is now in the hands of Herbert Harris.

Under altered ownership basis, company will continue the production and distribution of disks, with an output minimum of 26 new albums and 100 new single records – in addition to the present Stinson catalog – during 1947.”
[Billboard, 28 Dec 1946, p.90]

Recap: Stinson Trading Co. started up a full six years before the 1939 N.Y. Fair - without Herbert Harris and/or Soviet cutouts. The Stinson Records brand name, still to come, will be created by Harris (and Noel Meadow no doubt) without Irving Prosky.