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

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 does not 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 R785. Digitized recording of this record is posted in the museum Sound Library. On one side is the song “The Echo Said No”, author Arthur Kassel. Art Kassel And His Orchestra. Vocal by Gloria Hart and Kassel Quartet/ On the other side -- “My Adobe Hacienda. Victoria Louise Massey Mabie - Lee Penny. Art Kassel And His Orchestra. Vocal by Jimmy Featherstone and Kassel Trio -On one side of this record is a popular song written.

Art Kassel (1904-1965) was an American singer-songwriter and saxophonist. Art Kassel and his ''Kassels in the Air'' were a staple on the Chicago music scene for more than thirty years. Debuting in 1924 at the Midway Gardens the group later spent a 15-year engagement at the Bismark Hotel and frequented both the Aragon and Trianon ballrooms, where it received national radio exposure. In the late 1950s, Kassel moved to the West Coast, where he appeared for two years with his orchestra on a local television program, “The Gloria Hart Show”. 
In its early years the band boasted such jazz artists as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Mugsy Spanier, Kassel switched to sweet music during the 1930s. This latter orchestra was never very impressive, though it had an extremely loyal following. Recording for RCA Victor, vocalists were Norman Ruvell, Thal Taylor, Billie Leach, Harvey Crawford, Grace Dunn, Marian Holmes, Jimmy Featherstone, and a three-piece vocal group, the Kassel Trio. After Kassel's death in 1965, the orchestra continued to perform West Coast engagements.

Gloria Hart (1924-2011) is best remembered the big band singer with popular Chicago-based Art Kassel Orchestra from 1942 to 1965. She also made a few solo recordings between 1950 and 1955. Gloria remained with “Kassels-in-The-Air” until 1965 when she largely retired from show business, although she occasionally performed in clubs in Chicago before finally retiring in the 1980s. According to liner notes, about this time she moved to Atlanta and began to write songs.