Blue Note vinyl: Van Gelder’s stamp

The hallmark of a Rudy Van Gelder master is the presence of his name or initials in the vinyl land between the grooves and the record label, variously described as the deadwax, runout or trail-off.

1) 1956-7 and earlier –  hand written initials RVG

(click each to view full screen)

Blue-Note-RVG-hand-initials-LJC

 

2) 1958-62 Machine stamp RVG initials

 

Blue-Note-RVG-stamp-LJC

3) 1961/2 onwards, machine stamp VAN GELDER, roughly though not exactly coinciding with the introduction of the NY label. Some early NY label titles still bear the second  RVG machine stamp.

VAN-GELDER-stamp-LJC

 

The Van Gelder hallmark was applied on the master acetate, and transfers during the various stages of metalwork through to the final stamper It indicates the mastering was carried out by Van Gelder and its absence means the master has been created by other usually inferior ears.

It is not however a guarantee of quality as Van Gelder-mastered stampers continued to be used during the Liberty and United Artists, in some cases beyond their useful life. Also, Van Gelder was not the only great sound engineer, and the quality of his tape mixes was often so high it was difficult for another engineer to make a poor transfer, though some did.

Similar hallmarkings are found on Van Gelder’s work for other labels, notably Prestige and Impulse and as Rudolf reminds me, also Debut and Savoy.

 

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Blue Note vinyl: Van Gelder’s stamp

  1. I picked up a copy of Lou Donaldson’s Alligator Bogaloo today (BST 84263). While at the record shop I noted that “BLUE NOTE” was stamped in the dead wax. I did not recall reading about this previously on the LJC website but today I was pleased to find a brief reference to this in the reader feedback section of the LJC post – “Blue Note Vinyl: Van Gelder’s stamp”.

    This Liberty Records release also included the “27 Years Blue Note” inner sleeve (type 9). I e-mailed a photo of the “BLUE NOTE” stamp today which I hope will be useful for illustration on your excellent website! The front of the jacket indicates copyright Liberty Records, Inc. but the advertisement on the reverse indicates “For Complete Catalog Write to BLUE NOTE RECORDS, INC., 43 West 61st St., New York 23” as it also appears on the inner sleeve.

  2. I have a question for you guys. I’m cataloging my collection on Discogs and there are multiple “releases” of Coltrane’s records on Impulse. Of the original pressings, especially in stereo, were the Van Gelder stamps on the original first pressings? At least one of these has been listed as a re-release and I’m guessing that the Van Gelder stamped records were the original relatively short run first pressings.

  3. I have a 10″ Tal Farlow Quartet, Lex w/ ear and the 9M, but no RVG, in spite of the fact that Rudy is credited with engineering duties on the back cover. Could it be that his earliest recordings were not stamped?

    • In physical manufacturing processes, anything is possible, including mistakes and forgetfulness. On that occasion he may have forgotten to initial the acetate after mastering. However it was not unknown for duties to be split – he may have been the recording engineer but not responsible for the mastering, which I think is the more likely an explanation. RVG was very precious about signing his own work, more so than any other engineer at the time. Roy du Nann never sign his masters, nor anyone else of note. Absence of etching suggests absence of the master’s touch on the lathe.

        • There is an original first pressing of this record for sale currently, and it too lacks the RVG in the runout. I wonder now about the other titles in the 5000 series, and at what time the RVG imprint first made its appearance.

          • My # 5042 too is without rvg in the dead wax. I checked a title of which I am sure RvG did the recording (his dog is on the front cover), # 5044. It has rvg hand-etched both sides.
            For 5042, I think it is just an omission.

            • checked mine: 5002, 5003, 5020, 5021, 5028, 5030, 5032, 5033, 5037, 5038, 5039: NO RVG
              5043, 5045: RVG
              I don’t think it’s been an omission Rudolf: up to 5042 Van Gelder didn’t sign.
              Fred confirms: RVG from 5043 on.

              • my (autographed) # 5043 has RvG hand-etched. So that confirms what you (and Fred) are saying. But, of course, this does not imply that pre-5043 are not recorded by van Gelder. And that is what it is all about.

  4. Has there been discussion of “BLUE NOTE” stamped in the runoff on certain releases? I just picked up a demo copy of Jack Wilson’s Somethin’ Personal 4251 with the Blue Note stamp to accompany the Van Gelder one. A quick internet search surfaced a copy of Grant Green’s Street of Dreams with the same stamp.

    • Hi Chris, not aware of any such stamp during the Blue Note period <1966. Both titles you mention were I believe pressed for Liberty. I've a fair number of Liberty Blue Notes and I don't recall seeing such a stamp. Picture possible?

      • This week I picked up a copy of BST-8255, Jimmy Smith’s “I’m Movin’ On”, and it also has this BLUE NOTE stamp. I was meaning to send over a picture but it slipped through the cracks, I’ll try to get one over soon!

        • Nice. I checked my copies of Boss Horn, Blackjack, and Sweet Honey Bee as well, but didn’t see find the stamp. Not sure what the chronology was in terms of release dates however. I’m wondering if there were limited pressing plants that were using the stamp, or whether all copies have them.

          • I’ve got one original Liberty only, 84287, Ornette Coleman New York is now!
            matrix numbers, etched in dead wax, NO Blue Note.
            question to Liberty collectors: please email me label pics of any record WITH Blue Note stamped in dead wax.
            I think it’s the first time the interest is spotlighted to this feature I was unaware of.
            good catch Chris!

            • I know this is an old topic but I just picked up a copy of art blakey 84245 and it has ‘BLUE NOTE” stamped in the runout. This is a blue label black ‘b’ reissue with van gelder stamp.

  5. What about a stamped matrix number? I just acquired a copy of Midnight Blue, and the BNLP-4123-A is stamped, not etched in the matrix! The record has Van Gelder stamped on both sides, is DG on one side with NY USA on both, so likely an early reissue. But it also has the ear on both sides… which for me eliminated the idea that its some sort of counterfeit. I’ve never seen a stamped matrix number before.

    • I’ll add that the inner sleeve is a 26 Years Blue Note sleeve, so dating from mid 1965 when it should be the one in use from 1963. So that plus the single side DG, we’ve determined its not a first pressing. But when did they stamp the BNLP #??

  6. Does anyone know (or have any idea) why Van Gelder did not put his stamp on his Argo records? There are not many and they aren’t important records, but some were recorded at the same time as other records on which the VAN GELDER stamp always appears.

  7. and not to forget the Debut label with RVG hand-etched, but in tiny format. Savoy also needs to be mentioned.

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