Pathé vertical-cut disc record (1905 – 1932)

Pathé Records were based in France and were producers of phonograph cylinders. In 1905 they began to produce phonograph disc records as well.

The very first Pathé discs were single-sided and used a layer of wax on top of a concrete base, but by 1906 the shellac was adopted. The grooves on the discs used vertical cut (hill and dale) recording similar to Edison Disc Records, rather than lateral cut recording, and required a special ball-shaped sapphire stylus to play them (which meant there was no need to change the needle after each playback).

Attachments were available to allow Pathé phonographs to play laterally-cut records, and to allow standard phonographs to play Pathé discs.

Until 1915, the discs rotated at 90 rpm, and playback started on the inside, spiraling out to the edge. From 1915 to the end of production, discs became 80 rpm, and changed to outside-start. About this time, the labels changed from engraved lines filled with white or ochre pigment, to paper labels.

Pathé discs were commonly produced in 10-inch (25 cm), 10½-inch (27 cm), and 11½-inch (29 cm) sizes. 6½-inch (17 cm), 8-inch (21 cm), and 14-inch (35 cm) discs were also made, as were very large 20-inch (50 cm) discs. Due to their fragility and unwieldiness, the larger sizes were a commercial failure and were not produced for long.

By 1920, Pathé began to introduce laterally-cut records compatible with standard phonographs (labelled as Pathé Actuelle), first for the US market and then for the UK, and by 1926 these were also being sold in France.

Pathé vertical-cut records continued to be sold in France until 1932.

Sources / Resources

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