Figure 4. September 1916 Talking Machine World ad, page 44
Figure 7.  October 1916 Talking Machine World 2 page ad, Pages 68 and 69
Figure 8.  October 1916 article in Talking Machine World, page 70
Figure 9.  November 1916 ad in Talking Machine World, page 98
Figure 10.  December 1916 article in Talking Machine World announcing new jobbers, page 94
Figure 11.  December 1916 article in Talking Machine World announcing new catalog, page 98
Click on any of the thumbnails below to view more details and a larger image

Majestic Record Corporation

Figure 2. July 1916 Talking Machine World Ad, page 82
Last Updated:  January 15, 2008
By:  Glenn Longwell
Figure 3. August 1916 Talking Machine World Ad, page 83
Figure 14.  December1916 ad in Talking Machine World, page 100
Figure 6. Sept. 26, 1916 New York Times list of Incorporations for Sept. 25, 1916
Figure 5. Certificate of Incorporation for Majestic Record Corporation from September 22, 1916.  Click to see all pages.
Starting in 1914 there was a new fad in the record world - miniature records selling for less than their larger sized counterparts.  Little Wonder led the way with their 5.5" records selling for 10 cents each (go to links page to learn more about Little Wonder)but others included Emerson, Operaphone, Domino, Paroquette and Majestic, among others.  Many, like Majestic, were vertical cut discs.  This format bypassed the lateral disc patents of Victor and Columbia. Vertical cut records would begin to fade as the patents ran out in 1918 with Edison being a notable exception. The smaller disc fad would fade as well as standard ten inch dime store brands would sprout up in the 20s. Majestic, however, came and went quickly.  Below is the information I have been able to find out about the etched label Majestic records from 1916-17. 

To my surprise in researching this I found that there were actually two corporations involved in the Majestic records, Majestic Phonograph Company, Inc. (Majestic Phono) and the Majestic Record Corporation (Majestic Record).  Many of the records show “Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc.” on their labels as well as all record sleeves.  Some of the records simply state “Majestic Record” and this was because of an agreement between the two companies.  More on that later as it didn’t take long before the relationship between the two fell apart.

Majestic Phonograph Company, Inc. was incorporated in the state of New York with a capital stock of $6,000 on November 24, 1915.  The three directors listed in the incorporation papers are Robert T. Russell of Brooklyn, NY, Christopher W. Mitchell of Manhattan, NY and Thomas C. Patterson, Jr. of Bronx, NY.  (Figure 1.)  It was also announced in Talking Machine World in December 1915 (Figure 1a.).

Their incorporation papers state their purpose of manufacturing records and machines, “including the obtaining of the natural voice, music and all other sounds and reducing same to disc,” etc.   Interestingly, they also state they are involved in general printing, lithographic and photographic business, buy, sell, own, hold, deal in and deal with works of art, pictures and prints of all kinds, etc.  Deal in magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, books, etc. There are other things as well and its not certain how much of this other stuff they did.

The earliest data on them making records, or at least beginning the process of making records, is May, 1916.  Henry Hotaling, an electro-plater for Majestic Phono, began work at this time to make the molds to press records1.

The July 1916 Ad in Talking Machine World (TMW), Page 82 (Figure 2.) is the first marketing I've found for these records.  The company name used is Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc. as the Majestic Record Corporation didn’t exist yet.  There is no mention of when the records would be available although they mention the type of music that is available and that these 7" records play as long as "most ten-inch records."  Retail price for the record will be 25 cents.  Also, right from the start they are offering the Majestic Adaptor to be able to play their records on any phonograph since their records were vertical cut and not playable on many machines of the day without an adaptor. For images of a Majestic Adaptor click on the link below.
Majestic Adaptor

The address given in the ad, 247-253 West 19th Street, New York City, is their manufacturing facility.  They held no other address.

In August and September Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc. continued to place ads in TMW looking to add dealers.  They also placed an ad in the retail trade publication Dry Goods Economist August 19th issue (Figure 3a). They were making big claims about how easy the records would sell, big profits were to be made, fast delivery, etc.  In addition to saying they will play as long as most 10" records there is now the statement that they play for three minutes.  In the August TMW ad (Figure 3.) there is still no mention of when the records would be available.  Perhaps there is a hint in the following statement from the ad.

"It's a changed situation.  The demand for a lower priced record is even greater than it was a year ago.  In about three months or sooner the demand will be many times greater than it is today.  Probably the greatest factor in bringing about this change will be the Majestic Record."

Interesting prediction on the timing of the great demand for lower priced records in three months as the first announcements in the record bulletin in TMW wouldn't show up until November, three months later.

However, in the August 19th Dry Goods Economist ad and the September TMW ad (Figure 4.) they mention "large quantities available for immediate delivery."  They also claim "30 new titles each month."  While there are no statements here about whether the records were ready it would appear they were and records were being shipped to customers.  According to the deposition of Albert J. Appell, Treasurer and attorney for Majestic Phonograph, they had been advertising and shipping product prior to the agreement with Majestic Record, which took place in early October.  Only one customer is mentioned, Strobel & Wilken.

At some point in this time period of late August, 1916 Jacques M. Kohner started talking with Robert C. Shaal, General Manager of Majestic Phono, to become Sales Manager.  Shaal had recently come to Majestic from Safety Car Heating & Lighting Co. in New York where he worked the previous eight years.  His arrival was announced in the August 19th issue of Dry Goods Economist (Figure 4a).  Instead of being hired Kohner interested others to invest money and form Majestic Record Corporation to take over the sales department for Majestic Phono.  Jacques Kohner would become the Sales Manager for this new company.

Also in September Majestic Phono advertised Dry Goods Economist again (Figure 4b).  The ad makes similar claims as the TMW ads but is a full page.  The interesting point is that this is the September 16, 1916 issue and it is known that Majestic Phono and Majestic Record were splitting the cost of the advertisements in Dry Goods Economist.  There were two ads, the other would show up in November and the cost for the two of them was $293.883.  So it is likely there was some communication and agreement of a future working relationship early in September.

On Septemer 22, 1916 the three directors of Majestic Record Corporation, David Green, Richard V. Schoenfeld and Jerome C. Reis signed their Incorporation papers (Figure 5).  The announcement for Majestic Record came out in the September 26, 1916 New York Times (Figure 6) as well as on page 22 of the October issue of Talking Machine World.

The amount of capital stock in the new company was $10,000.  However, they were to begin business with capital of $2,750.  Shares were split to David Green (100), Richard Schoenfeld (100) and Jerome Reis (75).

The address given in the New York Times announcement of 109 East 88th Street is the home address of David Green.  Richard V. Schoenfeld listed his address as 3485 Broadway, Manhattan.  Jerome listed his address as 152 West 120th Street, Manhattan2.

On the certificate of incorporation the first paragraph for the purpose of the corporation is listed as follows:  "To purchase and sell all kinds of phonograph records and phonographs, and kindred commodities, both imported and domestic, and to manufacture phonographs, phongraph records, and kindred commodities, and to do and perform any of the above in the same manner as a natural person might or could do, it being expressly understood that none of the objects for which this Company is incorporated as above enumerated, shall in any wise be deemed to limit the business of this company."

On October 5, 1916 the two companies entered into an agreement whereby Majestic Record would be the exclusive sales agent within the United States, Canada and the Hawaiian Islands.  The contract stated, among other things, that records were going to be sold to Majestic Record at the rate of 12 ½ cents each for the 7 inch records and 22 ½ cents each for the 9 inch records.  Majestic Record would then be selling the 7 inch records to jobbers at 14 ½ cents per record and the 9 inch record for 26 ½ cents. The contract stipulated very specific amounts that Majestic Record must sell through December 31, 1918.  The first period, from November 1, 1916 through August 31, 1917 they must sell the value of $184,375.  This came out to about 6,000 records per day that needed to be sold.  Jacques Kohner had promised that they would be up to this level very quickly.  If they were to miss these targets Majestic Phono had the right to cancel the contract.  Majestic Phono was not allowed to sell the records themselves except for export outside the region Majestic Record held.  It was agreed that the name on the record would be “Majestic Record.”  Majestic Phono was to produce “at least thirty new subjects a month, a minimum of one-third of all such subjects to be what are known as ‘Royalty Numbers.’”  Royalty numbers would mean music that was protected by copyright, which would mean newer music rather than old, public domain songs that might not sell as well.  Names on the contract are Robert C. Shaal of Majestic Phonograph and H. Reiser and Jerome C. Reis of Majestic Record.

In October, Majestic Record went all out and took out a full two page ad in TMW (Figure 7.)  on pages 68 and 69.  In this ad they now begin to use the name of the sales company, Majestic Record Corporation, with offices at 37-39 East 28th Street, New York. New bold claims are being made - "The Majestic Record is revolutionizing the Record business and stimulating Phonograph sales" and "It dominates the popular prices Record field."  Their catalogue now has 100 selections (this equates to 50 records).  Also of interest is the first mention of a 9 inch record coming that plays for four and a half minutes, due out November 15th which will retail for 50 cents.  This ad cost $246.473.

The bill for this ad and the two Dry Goods Economist ads went to Majestic Phono and through January still had not received payment from Majestic Record for their share of $270.173.

Also in the October issue of TMW, on page 70, was a small article announcing the organization of the new company (Figure 8.).  Most of the information from the ad is in the article.  The article states "Several appointments in the new corporation are now being considered and will be announced shortly." 

Tensions already started to build in October between the two companies3.  Record orders for October were quite low, averaging 289 per day (417 per day on days in which an order came in) or a total of 7515 from October 6th to 31st 3.  Albert Appell allegedly continually asked Jacques Kohner how many salesmen he had in the field and what territories were covered.  Kohner was evasive eventually telling him 15 salesmen but never revealing territories (Kohner admitted to nine salesmen in his deposition).  Appell complained that he even couldn’t find records to purchase in nearby towns like White Plains, Croton Falls and Brewster.  Allegedly Appell told Kohner that they already weren’t happy with how the records were being sold4.  There were also allegations that Majestic Record was not completely paying its bills to Majestic Phono per what was arranged in the contract.

November 1916 finally brings the announcements in the record bulletin of TMW for the first record releases by Majestic on pages 117 and 118.  The bulletin shows 50 records, all 7 inch (see Discography link).  No 9 inch records are announced yet.  However, in this same issue is another ad (Figure 9.).  In the ad it announces the 9 inch record - "This new record is nine and a quarter inches in diameter, plays four and a half to five and a half minutes, and retails with full margin at 50c.  Now ready for delivery."  They are still making some bold claims about their quality and how they are dominating the popular priced record field.  They do add one interesting technical note in that the records are cut at 165 threads to the inch, much higher than the standard 78 rpm disc.

There was also the ad in the November 18, 1916 issue of the Dry Goods Economist, page 40 and is almost identical to the TMW ad (Figure 9a).

In the December issue of TMW there are two articles, another ad and 35 new records announced in the record bulletins on page 117.  There were 15 new seven inch records and the first 20 nine inch records. 

In the article of page 94 (Figure 10.) it announces there are new jobbers of Majestic records.  They mention Jaques M. Kohner, as the new General Manager.  The article states that after a ten day trip on December 11 to the Middle West Mr. Kohner had made arrangements with a number of new jobbers to distribute the Majestic records in Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and other cities.  I have yet to find out who these jobbers were.

The article on page 98 (Figure 11.) talks about their new catalog being out and that there is new marketing material for store owners.  It also states "orders for the last two months have been very heavy, but shipments have been made promptly, according to the management, and they look for a still heavier demand during the holidays."  The catalog (Figure 12.) was a small booklet and Majestic Record allegedly had 50,000 printed, a number which Majestic Phonograph disputed.  Regardless, one was supplied as evidence.  They also had a window hanger printed up (Figure 13.) and a large advertising sheet that was approximately 12”x24” showing the latest releases.  One copy was in with the court documents but I was not able to make a copy.

The ad on page 100 (Figure 14.) touts the "Supremacy of Majestic Records in the Popular Priced Field Is Undisputed."  This would be their last ad in TMW.

Actual sales for November were 20,450 records and in December were 31,144 (1,003 per day or 1245 per day only counting days for which an order was received).  The best day was December 5th with a total of 4716 records ordered.   The only sales noted after that in testimony were the first two days of January totaling 2,8863.  Even their best month to date, December, came no where near their contracted amount of 6,000 records per day.  However, it did approach the daily output of the manufacturing plant.  This came up in discussions between Robert Shaal and Jacques Kohner and allegedly Shaal told Kohner not to give orders that exceed the capacity of the daily output.  This, of course, was denied by others at Majestic Phono.  On October 16, 1916 it is noted that there were 50,000 records in stock ready for shipment.  On January 6th there were about 35,000 ready with another 16,000 or 17,000 not ready yet5.  So it was possible for Majestic Phono to begin to handle orders greater than their daily output with upwards of 50,000 records in stock and with another press coming on line shortly.  It is unknown how many records were sold prior to October 6, 1916 and after January 3, 1917. 

Through this time period of October through December and into early January they had four presses going.  Three were dedicated to the 7 inch records which were pressed two at a time.  One machine was dedicated to 9 inch records and were only pressed one at a time.  The best production rate during this time was about 1400 per day for all 4 presses.  For 9 inch records 200 per day was an average while it was 400 per day per machine on the 7 inch records.  A fifth machine was installed around January 6, 19175.  According to a letter from Robert Shaal to Jacques Kohner after Shaal left the employment of Majestic Phonograph he stated that production should have been 100 per hour for the 7 inch records but never exceeded 550 records per 8 hour shift, claiming production problems.

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Information and images compiled by: Glenn Longwell



Figure 1.  Incorporation papers for Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc. from Nov. 24, 1915.
Figure 12.  Catalogue of Majestic Records
Figure 13.  Majestic window hanger piece
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Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc.
Figure 1a.  December 1915 Talking Machine World Page 56 announcement of Majestic Phono incorporation
Figure 4b.  September 16, 1916 ad in Dry Goods Economist, page 56
Figure 9a.  November 18, 1916 ad in Dry Goods Economist, page 40
Figure 3a.  August 19, 1916 Dry Goods Economist ad, page 50
Figure 4a.  August 16, 1916 Dry Goods Economist article announcement of Robert Shaal joining Majestic Phonograph Co., Inc. as General Manager