I really don't know, maybe "plastic" or "thin vinyl". Since most seem to be promos, maybe try using "promo" or "WLP" to narrow things down? You might want to try it with a search engine like DuckDuckGo that doesn't personalize your searches - all of the changes at Google over the last couple of years has made it more difficult to do good research there (search queries based on your past searches & internet travels, PLA campaigns spilling into organic search, down-ranking of non-AdWords account holders, etc. - this is why most Page 1 results end up being product pages instead of informational pages.)wurlitzer1450 wrote:what term should i use AG ? there should be something on the in about them, they're certainly unusual and i have had lots of them.
My take on these records is just kinda based on tidbits I've gleaned from various places over the last 25 years of collecting, and really only about 6 or 7 years with 78s (and assuming that I've connected the right dots along the way ). During and after WWII, shellac was in short supply and manufacturers were looking for other materials to make records with. In fact, they had always been tinkering with other materials, but none of them had any staying power in the marketplace (like Victrolac, Durium, celluloid). Most of the reason for this was the technology of record players at the time, like heavy tonearms with steel needles that would burn right through weaker materials. Pre-WWII, materials like vinyl were also more expensive than shellac.
Then during and after the war, shellac got more expensive, vinyl got cheaper, and technology advanced to lighter weight cartidges/pickups/tonearms with precision stylii. RCA had already been making the vinyl V-Discs for military radio because they traveled so much better overseas. Stateside, radio broadcasters were some of the first to embrace (and be able to afford) the newer turntables, so RCA turned their attention to them with their new vinyl 78s in promo form (personally, I haven't seen any early commercial vinyl 78s; I've seen some from later in this period, but not near to the war). RCA could produce them cheaper, and after all, WLPs were usually just given away anyway, so why wouldn't they cut some production costs?
From the end of the war to the early 50s, things moved fast. Record technology was fine-tuning its way to longer sound grooves & better vinyl recipes, and home turntable technology was making gentler record players more affordable and more common. Around 1950, the battle between Columbia's 12" 33rpm and RCA's 7" 45rpm pretty much destroyed the 78 market. They were the way of the future: both of them were cheaper, more durable, lower surface noise, lighter, held more music, on and on. But this whole period was only about 5 to 7 years, not really enough time for manufacturers to fully exploit vinyl 78s in the marketplace. By the time home turntables could handle vinyl, the move had already begun towards 33 and 45 rpm. Hence, most of the plastic-y vinyl 78s are those early radio promos.
The only commercially sold vinyl 78s I can bring to mind right now are children's records in the late 40's and early 50's. Right on the cusp of when everything was changing. And wouldn't it make sense that if they were experimenting with a new product, they would test it on a smaller market first, like kids records? This is a theoretical leap on my part, but it makes business sense. I pulled some things to look at, and I've got some commercial 10" records made with this same thin material dating 1949-54, but they are all 33rpm (RCA Victor, X, Riverside, Royale and London UK). I also have a handful of Decca and Coral promo 78s made of this same material, but they are slightly thicker - still somewhat flexible and good sound quality, but not as thin so a little more rigid. These all date 1950-1953. The thin flexible 10" 78s that I pulled (the ones that spawned this thread) are all white label promos from the RCA family of labels and all date to 1947-50. My 78 collection is only a few hundred records, so these dates may need to be nudged a little, but that's what I can tell you about what I have in hand. If you line-up all these little timeframes, you kinda watch vinyl take over the marketplace: first as special pressings, then cheap promos, then improvements to the materials, moving into small commercial markets and finally into the mainstream market. (history is fun) My interpretation is that these thin vinyl 78s represent one little step in that transition.
I've found some of these promos mixed in with regular listings at the 78 Discographical Project, but not all of them and info is pretty scant on the ones I do find listed. Many of the vinyl 78 promos I've researched from this period have commercial counterparts that are shellac. More circumstantial information, but hopefully all of this can help you pin down what you're looking for. And maybe someone with more knowledge or a bigger collection can fill in some gaps.