About The Database
Starting in 1898, the Gramophone Company used various
numbering systems to keep track of all the recordings
that were made and a separate numbering system to track
the recordings that were issued. The first set of
numbers were called matrix numbers and the second set
of numbers were called issue or catalogue numbers.
The matrix numbers were engraved on the metal stampers
and the issue or catalogue numbers appeared on the
printed labels that were affixed to the records that were sold.
As the business became more successful, the company
altered its numbering systems several times to cope with the ever
increasing number of recordings and so that the number
conveyed information about the recording to those who
understood the numbering system.
Dr Alan Kelly
Dr. Alan Kelly (1928-2015) spent decades coming to a complete understanding of
the file numbering and lettering system used by The Gramophone Company and HMV,
and in listing the recordings that were made. It was an
extraordinary achievement. He developed an MSWord
document for each group of recordings in the numbering system.
There are over a hundred files of matrix numbers and
several dozen files of issue or catalogue numbers.
Some of the files are very large and they vary sufficiently
in their internal set-up that it was very difficult to
develop a single program to scan them so that a
searchable database could be created of the whole.
There are over 410,000 recordings in the database as it
currently stands. The data all comes from Dr. Kelly’s
own files with some additions and corrections done by others
since his death in 2015. There may be further additions and corrections
made to this database over time, as the completion of the database
is a work-in-progress.
The database was developed by
Stephen R. Clarke and Roger Tessier.
Stephen Clarke is the Chair of The Historic Singers
Charitable Trust (formerly Historic Masters) and the
Executor of the Estate of John Stratton, a well-known
record collector who died in 2001. His estate has
supported the work of Historic Masters in the past
and currently supports re-issues of the recordings of
early singers on Marston Records. Roger Tessier is a
retired computer coding expert whose work has been
essential to this project, especially in the design of
parser programs to scan the various Kelly files. All
the work on the database project has been done on a
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