Minigroove

In 1950 the N.V. Philips Phonografische Industrie (PPI) was established. This Dutch company combined all necessary musical activities (recording, manufacturing and distribution) and became an important player in the record industry, even more when it started to cooperate with the US Columbia label (with the first records from this deal being released in 1953). This cooperation lasted until 1961 when Columbia started to release their records outside North America under the name of CBS Records. The Minigroove logo referred to the record pressing technique Philips used (comparable to the microgroove name, more commonly used by other record companies), as opposed to the way 78rpm records were manufactured. The logo seems to have been used until around 1961-62. Possibly Philips quit using it after the break up with Columbia and/or when it started a joint venture with Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft (1962). For the record, Philips in the UK worked with Columbia until 1964 and the Minigroove logo can be found as late as 1964 on German pressings (probably no Columbia connection any more); it was for instance used on the labels of the 1964 LP “Jazz Workshop Concert” (mono LP P 48 095 L). In Germany and the UK, the mono Minigroove albums were often concurrently released with stereo versions which did not show the Minigroove logo, but the Hi-Fi-Stereo logo instead.

Philips established offices in many European countries (France, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Italy, …) and even abroad (Asia, Africa, South America). Records were often pressed in these other countries but in other cases they were pressed in the Netherlands and then exported to their destinations. An example of this are the albums pressed in the Netherlands, which were meant for the German market. “Made in Holland” is shown on the labels but almost all other text is in the German language. Germany had their own presses as well. Some of these said ‘made in Germany’ on the labels, some had German text around the perimeter of the labels (with no mention of ‘made in…’) and sometimes ‘made in Germany’ is printed in the dead wax. England and France used numbering systems of their own, maybe some other countries did so too, while others followed the Dutch numbering exclusively.

Philips acquired the ‘Hollandsche Decca Distributie’ (Dutch Decca Distribution) in 1942 and then became first involved in the record industry (before the big changes came in 1950). The first 78rpm releases on the Philips label appeared after the second World War. These regular 78rpm records were released until 1956. Some titles appeared both on Philips Minigroove and on these regular 78rpm issues. Early catalogues list both Philips (Minigroove and non-Minigroove) and Decca releases. There are no regular 78rpm releases with the Minigroove logo; see below for the “miniature” 78rpm records with the Minigroove logo.

Philips used various numbering systems which appear to be complex and inconsistent.

Discogs explains some of the characters used in the numbering systems:

E stands for 7″ 45 rpm EP mono
F stands for 7″ 45 rpm mono
L stands for 12″ 33 1/3 rpm mono
R stands for 10″ 33 1/3 rpm mono

In 1951 Philips started releasing small (7 inch) 78rpm records, 10 inch and 12 inch albums. Regular 45rpm singles and EP’s followed in 1955. All these formats will be described below.


78rpm records

The 78rpm records in the 7 inch format were released in 1951-52. They were not a big success, mainly because of the competition with the very successful 45rpm single which was introduced by RCA in 1949. Philips’ miniature 78rpm records were made of vinyl (not shellac) and they were housed in a general company sleeve with a big hole to show the labels. The main genres released in this format were classical (09000 series) and popular (01000 series).

The idea was that people could play these records, made with the new Minigroove technique (longer playing time, less noise, unbreakable, etc.), on their 78rpm equipment. The only change needed was a new stylus.

A Philips miniature 78rpm record from 1951/52
The label of another 7 inch 78rpm record; same as above, but with a different lay-out, the 78 designation is not shown in a box, this one was actually released earlier (source image: Discogs)


7 inch singles & EP’s

Philips started issuing regular 7 inch records (singles and EP’s) from 1955 onwards.

Early 7 inch singles and EP’s probably came in general company sleeves, soon to be followed by non-laminated covers. (Most) later EP issues and reissues were housed in laminated covers and esp. Dutch pressings often showed the text All Philips Records are high fidelity records!’ on the back cover with small black rounds behind the ‘hi’ of ‘high’ and the ‘fi’ of ‘fidelity’. This text was probably introduced in 1956 and was used longer than the Minigroove logo. It should be noted that the lamination often came loose and could be peeled off without leaving much traces if any at all.

Early 45rpm release of the same record as shown under the 78rpm issues


10 inch albums

With the same size as (regular) 78rpm records but featuring much more music, the 10 inch album was a popular format during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Philips released many of them and also re-released many titles (see for instance album 00134).
Early 10 inch albums came in non-laminated covers, first with standard designs, then with designs which were specifically made for the release itself. Later issues and reissues were housed in laminated covers, often showing the text All Philips Records are high fidelity records!’ on the back cover with small black rounds behind the ‘hi’ of ‘high’ and the ‘fi’ of ‘fidelity’. This text was probably introduced in 1956, used mostly for Dutch pressings, and it was used longer than the Minigroove years.
In some cases, the lamination was peeled off the covers without leaving much traces, so that can be confusing.
A few 10 inch albums were released in heavy cardboard and gatefold sleeves with a record envelope attached in between both sides of the gatefold cover, holding the record.

The first 10 and 12 inch albums were released in 1951, quickly gaining momentum in 1952-53, after the releasing deal Philips made with US Columbia Records (in 1951).

A standard design used for 10 inch albums (shown: #10001 and 10004)
Details of the first and second or third (Dutch) issues of 10 inch album #B 07625 R, the text ‘All Philips Records are high fidelity records!’ came later and was used longer than the Minigroove logo, also: the second cover is laminated, the first one’s not.


12 inch albums (LP’s)

What has been said about 10 inch albums applies for 12 inch albums as well. Some 12 inch albums were released in heavy cardboard and gatefold sleeves with a record envelope attached in between both sides of the gatefold cover, holding the record. Sometimes booklets were attached inside the gatefold cover as well.

Buying albums was a new phenomenon in the 1950’s and slowly grew into a substantial mania in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Philips played an important role and it’s fascinating to see how things developed in the 1950’s. In 1956 an interesting commercial boost was given with the Favourites Series; most classical music with full color photographs by Paul Huf on the front cover, (almost) all presenting UK model Ann Pickford. The albums in this series were relatively cheap and although there was much controversy about it, they were a big success. The record industry became aware of the positive effects of attractive covers and cover art became an extremely important part of their marketing strategies.

Paul Huf cover from the Favourites Series (S 04001 L)

Philips reissued several titles (both 10 inch and 12 inch albums), sometimes even more than once. Most original pressings have the Minigroove logo on both the cover and the labels, reissues could have the same cover including the Minigroove logo but the label design is from the early 1960’s and then on later reissues the Minigroove logo was dropped completely. For an example, see these three different pressings of Philips LP A 00440 L. There are also covers which do not show the Minigroove logo, but it’s shown on the labels. These anomalies could indicate a sloppy working method, in other cases the logo may have been deliberately omitted, or these pressings are from the transition period to the post-Minigroove years.

Example of a 12 inch album with thick cardboard cover, gatefold sleeve and attached booklet at the inside of the gatefold cover



Standard covers (LP and 10 inch)

Philips used all kinds of different covers, this section describes the standard covers for LP’s and 10 inch albums, made in Holland (f.i. UK covers have a slightly different history). Variations, like the Big Bill Broonzy LP shown above and several others, are not described (yet). The years given may be inaccurate to some extend; it’s what I think it is now, but further explorations may lead to new insights.

The first standard covers were made of one piece of (thin) printed cardboard, folded and glued together. The flaps which are part of the front cover are glued on top and bottom of the back cover. Used from c. 1951 – 1955.


Second standard covers were constructed in the same way as the first, but the cardboard was laminated (lamination was on the front and back cover). Used from c. mid 1954 to early or mid 1955, so, for a rather short period of time, though it was used in the UK for a much longer time.


The third standard cover was constructed completely differently. I’m not completely sure about it, but it appears to me the front and back cover’s base is one piece of (folded) cardboard. The printed and laminated front sheet with three flaps is glued on the base, with the flaps glued around all sides but the opening side. The printed and non-laminated back sheet is then glued on the back. So this sheet now covers the flaps. These covers do not have the text “All Philips records are high fidelity records!” on the back cover and were used from c. early 1955 to early 1956.


The construction of the fourth standard cover is the same as the third but shown here because of the text “All Philips records are high fidelity records!”. Sometimes, like the image shows, Dutch text was used, and it also exist in Spanish and Italian variations. It’s most common for Dutch pressings and it was printed probably from early 1956 onwards. Dutch pressings meant for export markets (for instance the Dutch made records for the German market) do not show this line, though exceptions may exist.

Note: Philips 7 inch EP’s and singles have more varied cover constructions. It looks to be harder to draw any conclusions about when what was released based on the construction. Cheaper constructions f.i. (like the first one above) have been in use much longer for singles and EP’s. My copy of Philips 429 009 BE (“Masters Of The Keyboard”) has the same construction as the first album shown above, but it also has the text “All Philips records are high fidelity records!” on the back cover…