Michael Thomas' Website



Home Page  Records British Dance Bands Sound Files Contact Me
Originally an American company, the Zonophone name was bought by the Gramophone Company in 1903 and they started issuing single-sided 5", 7", 10" and 12" discs.  In 1913, the name was applied to the double-sided records which had been called "Twin" and both names appeared on the label for some years. In 1932, when Columbia & the Gramophone Company were merged to form EMI, Zonophone was once again paired with an existing label and Regal-Zonophone was born. This survived until 1948. The name was revived in the 1960s (by EMI).
I won't be posting a label listing here as the CLPGS have published full Zonophone listings. However, I want to show the different label designs and try and work out what period they cover. Remember that repressings of earlier issues will have the latest label design, so the highest number of any design is what helps to determine when the changeover happened.
This is an example of a 5" inch record. As you can see, the information given is pretty basic; not even the artists name or whether it is a song or a cornet solo. This is not unusual for the period, though.
These cost 9d each and were available from August 1905 until (I think) early 1906.

This is a standard 10" single-sided record. The 7" and 12" records used an identical design. This design would be in use from early on until March 1908. In March 1904 the records cost 2/- (7") and 4/- (10") reducing to 1/6 and 3/- respectively in July 1904. In 1906 prices were reduced again to 1/- (7") and 2/- (10").

Still single-sided, but the label now includes the "Zonophone cross" trademark which  previously had only been embossed on the black reverse. This design was introduced in March 1908.

Similar to the above, but showing the company's name change to be "British Zonophone Company Ltd", a chgange which happened in June 1910, and so is only seen on some of the last single-sided Zonophone pressings. My thanks to Frederick Murphy for pointing this out and providing the image here.
This record commemorating the Coronation of King George V dates from 1911, of course, but interesting to note that it wasn't deleted from the catalogue until 1922. It is described as a "Puzzle Plate" and each side has three interleaved grooves, all starting from different places on the rim. (Note also the term "plate" for a disc record).


In May 1911, Zonophone purchased the "Twin" trademark and started producing double-sided records with this new label design. All single-sided records were abandoned at this point. The earliest true Zonophone-Twin was No. 416, but any Twin records still in the catalogue would have been re-pressed with  the new Zonophone label. Also there was a final "Twin" release using numbers 566 - 570.
This design was in use until June 1920, the highest number being 2016.

Introduced in August 1920, the new label shows the HMV dog and gramophone trademark, thus making it obvious that Zonophone was part of The Gramophone Company.  The first issue was No. 2017 and the highest being 2433 issued in June 1924.
From June 1924, the new design replaced the dog and gramophone with a circular design including the initials ZR. Starting at No. 2434 and running up to 2806 in November 1926, though the lower quadrants were removed by September 1926. The highest I have with the quadrants is 2763.
By December 1926, it was decided the word "record" was superfluous on the label. The new design had a slightly lighter green background and ran until November 1927, and No. 2999. The numbering then jumped to 5000. The 3000 and 4000 number series were used for export issues. The highest I have with this colouring is 5940.
The same basic design, but a much brighter green (apologies for my scan which has over-emphasised the brightness!). This ran up to the end of the label in 1932. The highest number was 6278.
The red-labelled Celebrity series, which I think are always double-sided ran for almost the whole period of Zonophone records and the label design matched the standard green one. Here is an early example.

Page last updated on: January 21, 2018