Banner Records

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Banner Record Sleeve, 1920s.

Banner Records was a United States based dime store record label manufactured between 1922 and 1938. It was created primarily for the S.S. Kresge Company, though it was employed as a general purpose budget label in other discount stores as well.


Banner Records was launched in January 1922 as the flagship label of the Plaza Music Company of New York City.[1] Plaza Music produced several cheap labels targeted at various discount houses, and employed bandleader Adrian Schubert as musical director.[2] At the beginning, Banner concentrated on popular dance hits, though it also recorded comic selections, semi-classical music and a small number of country and blues records; it sold at 25 cents. In its first years Banner also leased masters from Paramount Records and Emerson Records labels.[3][4][5]

In July 1929 Plaza Music Company merged with Cameo-Pathé and the Scranton Button Corporation to form the American Record Corporation or ARC (record company). ARC dropped Pathé and Scranton Button's label Emerson but kept all of the other labels belonging to the combined company, including Banner, active. Banner continued much as before, with Adrian Schubert as music director, though the end of 1931, but after ARC acquired the rights to the Brunswick label, Banner's product lines began to reflect the general ARC product, and this added a lot more African-American and country music to its catalogue.[6] As part of the ARC-BRC combine, it no longer enjoyed a flagship status, by then accorded to Melotone among the budgets. While ARC-BRC did eventually drop some of the dime store labels along the way, it did keep Banner until the end, which came in December 1938 when the CBS Broadcasting Network bought ARC-BRC and liquidated all of the dime store labels.[1]

In December 1946, entrepreneur Sam Selsman formed a new Banner Records label, devoted entirely to Jewish music and Yiddish-language comedy routines;[7] although this later Banner Records no longer actively records, its catalogue still remains a going concern even today.[8] There is no relationship between the Hebrew Banner label and the earlier products of Plaza Music or ARC/BRC. Likewise, there is no relationship between the Banner Records of the 1920s and 1930s to a dime store label put out by Leeds and Caitlin in the early 1900s, though the label design is oddly similar.[9]

Label Series[edit]

Banner debuted with two concurrent label series in January 1922; a popular 1000 series side by side with a "Standard" 2000 series of semi-classical music, comedy and some Jewish material.[3][5] Reaching Banner 1999 in the main series in mid-1927, Banner skipped ahead to 6000 and terminated the Standard series at the end of the year at Banner 2183.[10] At this point, Banner also stopped the 6000 series at Banner 6167 and moved again to a 7000 series starting at Banner 7001.[11] This ended in early 1929 at Banner 7265 and the reverted to the old series, starting at Banner 6200.[10] The series survived the merger into ARC, but was ended at the start of 1930 at Banner 6566 and restarted at 0500 until it reached 0872 later in the year.[12] The number series was then started again at 32001[13] and the price changed from 25 cents to 35 cents in order to bring Banner in line with other dime store labels being sold 3 for a dollar. This lasted until 1935, when the dime store labels were all married to a central numbering system. However releases were not necessarily unified; for example, Robert Johnson, who did have some releases on Melotone, did not appear on Banner.[14]


To this day, Banners are often found all over the United States, indicating their popularity as Plaza's "flagship" label. The audio fidelity of the records when new was average to slightly below average for the time, but as Banner was a cheap label they were pressed from cheaper materials that did not well withstand repeated playing with the heavy phonograph reproducers of the time. Found today, most Banner Records exhibit considerable wear and prominent surface noise, but they are still valued by virtue of selections presented thereon.

Roster of Notable Artists On Banner: Plaza Period[edit]


Roster of Notable Artists On Banner: ARC Period[edit]

While some of the artists from the previous incarnation of Banner survived into this second period, particularly in 1929-1931, none of these artists appeared on the first label.[19][20][21][22]


External links[edit]

See also[edit]