Posted on

Brunswick Records

Brunswick 1916-1924

Brunswick Records (1916-1950s)

Founded by Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company in 1916. In 1924, Brunswick dropped a multi-colored label in favor of a simple black and gold coloring scheme with a shield. In the same year, Brunswick would introduce the Hall of Fame series. The Hall of Fame series would be produced from 1924-1935.

Brunswick would buy the Vocalion label in 1925. By 1928, they dropped the “A” – “B” side designations in favor of underlining the preferred side. In 1930, Brunswick Records were sold to Warner Bros. Warner Bros. leased Brunswick to ARC in 1931. Records between 1930-1938 would carry a statement that they were “Manufactured by in the USA by Brunswick Radio Corp.”. For an interesting look at the ARC corporate headquarters which housed Brunswick see: this 508 Park Avenue, Dallas blog posting.

American Record Company was bought by Columbia Broadcasting System in Dec. 1938. Brunswick would introduce the Melotone budget label in 1930 and CBS would discontinue it in 1938. CBS would discontinue the Brunswick label in April 1940. This violated the lease agreement and resulted in Brunswick being transferred to Decca. In 1944 Decca revived Brunswick mostly to reissue past recordings primarily from the 80000 series as a Collector’s Series (mostly blues and jazz from the 1920s/1930s).

Decca would produce the Brunswick label in an LP and 45 formats in the 1950s.

Music Genres: Blues, Pop, Jazz, re-issues.

Pre-1941 Label:  The first label was between 1916-1924. Note the “B” side. The record came in many colors including black, purple, yellow, green, and blue. All have a similar design.

Brunswick 1916-1924
Brunswick 1916-1924

A second label redesign occurred between 1924-1928. Note the “B” side. Brunswick design now black and gold shield with a scrolled border. Colors may be tan or purple.

Brunswick 1924-1928
Brunswick 1924-1928

A slight modification occurred between 1928-1940. Brunswick would underline the preferred side.  If the record has an underlined side and has the phrase “The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company” at the bottom, it was made probably between 1928-1930. That is the time after the underlining was introduced yet before being leased to ARC. After being leased to ARC, records between 1930-1938 would carry a statement that they were “Manufactured by in the USA by Brunswick Radio Corp.”

Brunswick 1928-1940
Brunswick 1928-1940. Note the phrase “Brunswick Radio Corporation” at the bottom.

A Hall of Fame series made by Brunswick came out between 1924-and 1934. Yellow/Gold in color.

Brunswick Hall of Fame
Brunswick Hall of Fame Series

1941-1945s Label: When the record label was sold to Decca in 1944, they adopted the Brunswick label to sell their Collector Series. The collector series is displayed predominately at the top. Decca also released reissues under the Brunswick label. These labels display the phrase “Subsidiary of Decca Records, Inc.”.

Brunswick 1944 Collectors Series by Decca
Brunswick 1944 Collectors Series by Decca

The above record, Buddy’s Habits by Red Nichols and his Five Pennies may be heard below:

Brunswick 1944 Collectors Series by Decca Type 2
Brunswick 1944 Record as Subsidiary of Decca Records, Inc.

Post-WW2 Label: Brunswick would release 45s and eventually LPs.

Brunswick 45 The Who
Brunswick 45 The Who
Brunswick LP The Who
Brunswick LP The Who

Numbers from start to 1945: 100-55000

Notes: Frank Sinatra first recorded on the Brunswick Label in 1939 with the song From the Bottom of my Heart (#8443).

–Rust, Brian. The American Record Label Book. Arlington House Publishers, NY. 1978.
–Sutton, Nauck. American Record Labels and Companies: An Encyclopedia (1891-1943). Mainspring Press, CO.2000.