The history of the ephemeral cardboard record of the depression
DURIUM RECORD LABEL BORN 80 YEARS AGO ( 1930 - 2010 )
In December 1929, now 80 years ago, a new record label, a novelty in its times, was released around New York City. The Durium Products Corporation, based at 460 West 34th Street, New York City, opened its offices and in December 1929 its first records were recorded and produced in the McGraw-Hill building on West 42nd Street - New York City.
The record itself was a novelty, as it was unbreakable, pliable and the sound was from a better quality compared to other flexible records like Goodson Record, Flexo and Filmophone ( to name some). The Flexible Record sites are dedicated to these other almost forgotten relics from the early 1930s.
It was a cardboard record with a Durium acetate surface in which the groove was pressed. Due to the fact that the production costs were only US $ 0.05 a record ( if printed in large quantaties ) and the time to produce a record in large numbers (300,000 up to 500,00 copies) was less then a week, made Durium a potentially strong competitor for the major record companies. I'M DOING WHAT I'M DOING FOR LOVE - THE CONNECTICUT COLLEGIANS ( = a Cecil and Leslie Norman band): Cecil Norman piano director arrangements - Sylvester Ahola - Lloyd Shakespeare trumpets - Ben Oakley trombone - Bill Rogers and Leslie Norman reeds, Emile Grimshaw banjo, Stanley nn tuba, Cavan O' Connor vocals. The names of an extra tenor player and violist remain unknown. Recorded at the Sessions House, Clerkenwell Road, London (GB) 25th of October, 1929 and released as WORLDECHO A-1004
It is said that the Durium acetate was developed in Europe during the First World War, to protect aeroplane noses agains dust, heat, cold and moist and it seems that after the war new uses were found - I saw once advertisements for rain coats and garden furniture made of Durium. During the 1920s it seems that Durium was used on records like Worldecho - a rather stiff cardboard layer with a Durium surface- produced in England - These records were produced for only six months and then it was withdraw from the market, as the records easily split into two halves if you dropped it.
In the US Professor Hal T. Beans from the Columbia University discovered the flexible record based on a thin cardboard layer with a one sided Durium surface. These Durium records would be released as Durium Records; better known for its main weekly series, to be released between 1930 and 1932, the Hit of the Week.
This small introduction to a rather extensive series of contributions about the Durium - Hit of the week cardboard records will be published too at the Hit of the week blog and the Flexible Record blog.