Rare gramophone records “The Vogue Picture Record”. Part 1

Vogue Records was a short-lived United States-based record label of the 1940s, noted for the artwork embedded in the records themselves. Founded in 1946 as part of Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan, the discs were initially a hit, because of the novelty of the colorful artwork, and the improved sound compared to the shellac records dominant at the time. Vogue picture records were of a very high quality, with little surface noise. The records were produced using a complicated process whereby a central core aluminum disc was sandwiched between the paper illustrations and vinyl.  Perfecting this process took quite a while; Tom Saffady and his engineers spent several months working out the bugs that often resulted in torn or dislodged paper illustrations. The discs were manufactured by first sandwiching printed illustrations around a core of aluminum, then coating both sides with clear vinyl upon which the grooves were stamped.
The first 10-inch Vogue picture record (catalog number R707) was released to the public in May 1946. Production ceased less than a year later in April 1947, with Sav-Way entering into receivership in August 1947. During this time, approximately seventy-four different 10-inch Vogue picture records were released.

Each illustration has an “R” number (or catalog number) printed on it, ranging from R707 to R786. There are gaps in the sequence; not all of the eighty possible catalog numbers were used. There is also a “P” number (or matrix number) printed on the illustration (next to the copyright symbol). The printed matrix number should match the matrix number inscribed in the lead-out area of the record. Some collectors have found Vogue picture records with errors where the illustration doesn’t match the song pressed on that side of the record; these records are sometimes marked as a “Factory Reject”.   Vogues with damaged illustrations (smeared ink, torn paper, etc.) are sometimes marked as a “Vogue Second”.

Normally both sides of a record have the same catalog number, but this is not always the case. Several records were released which had different combinations, such as R725/R726. The combinations were likely due to the hard financial times on which Sav-Way had fallen; they were hard-pressed to come up with new artists near the end of their one-year production life, so they resorted to re-using previously released material.
The colorful artwork on the records have made Vogue Records a collector's item.

There are ten such records in the museum Collection repository. One of them is numbered R725. On one side of this record is a popular song written by Joseph McCarthy and Harry Tierney -- "Alice Blue Gown". Edith Day in the Broadway musical “Irene” first performed the song, inspired by Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s signature dress, in 1919. The Hour of Charm Orchestra, an American musical group led by Phil Spitalny, performs the song. Popular in the 1930s and 1940s, the group was an all-female orchestra in the era when most musicians were men.

Soloist Evelyn Kay Klein (1911-1990) was an American violinist that performed and recorded with the Hour of Charm orchestra; she also performed as a solo artist ("Evelyn and Her Magic Violin"), making her Carnegie Hall debut in 1937. In the mid-1940s, she became the first woman to perform as a guest soloist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Side two features First movement of "Rhapsody in the Blue" by George Gershwin, performed by The Hour of Charm All girls Orchestra, conducted by Phil Spitalny, violin solo by Evelyn Kay Klein.

Digitized recording of the Vogue Picture Record R725 is in the museum Sound Library.

What's a Vogue Picture Record? "The Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors"

Vogue Picture Records from the Todd Collection at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library