Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

We all have and handle these from time to time. "Back of book", Revenues, "Cinderellas", duty stamps and all kinds of other stamp like labels. Discuss them all HERE!

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Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Before getting into the various stamps, a bit of background is necessary.

As a medium requiring the use of a mechanical device to reproduce the music, pianola rolls were subject to the Mechanical Rights provisions of the Copyright Act, along with records and cylinders.

I’ll start by focusing on Australian-produced rolls.

In Australia from 1913 and New Zealand a year later, this mechanical royalty was set at 5% of the retail selling price. Of course, the tune needed to be registered as copyright, and not be in the public domain (which happened through the composer being deceased for over 50 years - hence the scarcity of copyright stamps on classical compositions.)

Along with mechanical royalties, the Copyright Act allowed for royalties for authors on the printed word, often referred to as General rights. Normally this covered books (and sheet music), and was set at 10% of the retail selling price. However, the advent of Word Rolls, where the lyrics were printed up the right-hand side of the roll, meant that the roll now attracted two different royalties. An overall rate of 15% was apparently deemed excessive, and some arrangement was obviously arrived at with the copyright owners and music publishers, as most Word Rolls bear stamps to the value of 10%, seeming to be split 5% mechanical (for the composer) and 5% general (for the author).
Also, the Copyright Regulations noted rounding to the nearest farthing.

Evidence suggests that roll manufacturers obtained agreement to round to the nearest half-penny (and sometimes always rounding down, and even down to the nearest penny!)

Pianola rolls began to be manufactured in Australia in 1919 by Mastertouch, and locally produced stamps were affixed from around 1922. Other local rolls were Duo, Broadway, and QRS (made under license from the USA parent).

There was a range of selling prices in both Australia and New Zealand, but most were in a small set - 5/-, 5/9d, 6/-, 6/6d or 7/6d, although the range was from 4/- to 10/-. Word Rolls tended to be more expensive, both because they cost more to produce, plus they had the extra copyright to bear. The price in New Zealand was usually 1/6d over the Australian price, meaning higher-denominated stamps are more common there than in Australia.

Rolls can have the price printed on the leader (4/9)

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but also on the label on the end of the box (6/6)

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Items sold in New Zealand had a uprated price sticker applied over the original, and the value of stamps should reflect that, not the original Australian price.

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This means that a small set of stamp values should suffice, and so it proved to be with 4d, 6d, 7d, 8d, 8½d and 9d being frequently sighted.

Often the rate is made up of two stamps, one of which is usually a 1d. The combination of an 8d and a 1d stamp paying the rate on a 7/6d roll is very often encountered, as we shall see.

The table below shows a set of common selling prices, and the expected value of copyright stamps the roll should bear.

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That's enough preamble, next post will have some stamps.

Adam

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

7/6d roll, with 9d in stamps (types referenced are from Stamps on Music)

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Box label showing 7/6d selling price, and copyright Paling & Co.
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mid-1920s Boosey & Co rouletted Australian issue (type A2)
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Boosey & Co acted for Palings & Co. Palings soon created their own stamps for their own copyrights, looking very much like the Boosey & Co ones, down to the fonts used.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

6/6 music roll, with 4d in stamps.

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Mastertouch C638, c.1924.
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But here we have the 4d made up from a 1d MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, Sydney) and a 3d from The Copyright Protection Society (Mechanical Rights) Ltd, who are a UK company.

How can this be?

In 1924, two early UK copyright collecting companies - The Copyright Protection Society (TCPS) and the Mechanical Copyrights Licences Co (better known as Mecolico) merged to form M.C.P.S. which is still going today. In Australia they began issuing MCPS Sydney stamps, while in the UK the continued to use the well-known Mecolico stamps (which had a trade-marked design).

It would appear that remaining TCPS stamps were being used up in this transition period. As with the previous example, the copyright on the label (Chappell) differs from that one the stamps. Chappell Sydney also soon produced their own stamps, looking very similar to the MCPS Sydney ones.

Note that a Descriptive Roll still had words printed up the right hand side. However, these were produced and owned by the roll company and so the general copyright on the text resided with them, meaning no stamps were required to show payment of copyright.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

7/6d music roll, with 4½d in stamps. Mid-late 1920s.

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Copyright Allan & Co

Allan & Co 1d and 3½d blue (type 2)
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The same roll in Australia would have retailed at 5/9d, which would have required just the 3½d stamp. So, in most cases, the markup for retail in New Zealand just required an additional 1d stamp.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Many rolls do not bear stamps. There are several explanations for this.

1. Tune is out of copyright (especially for Classical items)
2. Copyright owner has entered into an accounting arrangement with the roll manufacturer (common after 1940)
3. Stamps have been removed (you may be able to detect where they were)

Where more than one tune was represented on the roll – medleys for sing-alongs were popular – the royalties were split up, usually pro-rata, although the length of each tune (or part-tune) may have had a bearing. As each tune may have a different copyright owner, represented by a different publisher, it is reasonably common to find multiple stamps from different issuers on medley rolls.

Here’s one with five stamps from three Australian issuers - Alberts, Allans & Davis.
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Unfortunately the box label with the selling price is not known.
The total copyright is 5¾d which, assuming there are no words (it's not shown as being a Word Roll), implies a selling price of nearly 10/-. How the 5 tunes are divided up against the 5 stamps is not obvious, as two are ¾d, two are 1d but one is 2¼d!

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Mastertouch rolls were produced by G.H. Horton & Co in Sydney.

Their first rolls were labelled Duo, however, up till about 1923.

DUO Word Roll D103, retailing at 6/6d, so requiring 8d in royalties.

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J. Albert & Son 8d blue, red (type 2)

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Almost all Albert stamps found will be red, or green (NZ). I've seen about 5 various blue ones in over 20 years of looking. Shame this particular one is torn in two.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

When Mastertouch started issuing their own named rolls around 1923, they still had lots of the old Duo tabs left. To use them up, they overstuck them with Mastertouch stickers. This helps us date these rolls, and so the stamps that appear on them.

Here are two copies of the same roll - Mastertouch C612, a Descriptive Roll of Remembrance by C. Reber, copyright E.W. Cole (of Coles Book Arcade fame).

This one from c.1923 bears the Mastertouch Seal over the Duo tag.
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and has a Cole stamp with 3½d in red manuscript, being 5% on the 5/6d selling price.
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This copy from shortly after, say 1924, has a Mastertouch tag.
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But it uses a different (and therefore later) Coles 3½d stamp.
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All Coles stamps are very scarce.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A couple more of the frequently-met-with 8d+1d combinations.

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J. Albert & Son (type 4a, carmine & green,1924-27, perf 11)
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Chappell & Co, Sydney (type A2,perf 11) Typewritten values seen 1922-25.
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Does anyone else have some of these tucked away?

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NSW Boy Scout Association 4d stamp

Post by adam78 »

Here's a lovely new find.

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Dating from 1930-31, the copyright is shown as Janette Bode, for both the lyrics and the music.
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As such, it should bear 8d in stamps. However, she must have assigned her rights to either the lyrics or the tune (or even 50% of each), to the NSW Branch of the Boy Scouts' Association. They in turn elected to produce a copyright royalty stamp for affixing to the pianola roll for their half share, hence 4d.

Note text at top of this sheet music re accepting the dedication of this song.
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First I've seen, or even heard of, from this Australian issuer. Not sure how popular the roll would have been in its day, but I suspect this will be a very rare Australian revenue stamp. Not bad for $1 in an online auction! :)

Anyone have another?

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Australia's Joe Slater Publishing (est c.1915 in Leichhardt) was closely tied to the Tivoli album series.

Mastertouch rolls, c1924.

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All Joe Slater copyright stamps are very rare.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A couple of attractive rolls from Argentina, circa 1930.

PAMPA

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OLIMPO

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by Global Administrator »

Some superb pieces there Adam .. loved that Boy Scouts one.;)
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Click HERE to see superb, RARE and unusual stamps, at FIXED low nett prices, high rez photos, and NO buyer fees etc!

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A couple from the UK issues for Boosey & Co. Circa 1920.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A striking piece - a tri-colour French stamp for an Italian publisher on an Argentinian roll, c.1930.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by ewen s »

I'd be almost tempted to frame and display that one, despite the chance of fading. The ultimate used on piece. No argument whether better collected used or mint for these.

Enjoying this thread Adam :D

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Having them on rolls like this is usually the only way to exhibit these revenue stamps as used. I have 8 frames coming up in Christchurch in November, and a lot are shown "on roll". A lot of rolls also have the retail price, which helps demonstrate the rate, which is important exhibiting revenues.

I have only managed to display two on 78s, which are a problem because of size, fragility and weight especially. I'm showing a couple used on the end of cylinder boxes, and some cut-down reverses of LP sleeves.

Adam

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by ewen s »

Looking forward to seeing the exhibit in Christchurch.

Ewen :)

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by ewen s »

Adam, congatulations on your Gold. I found it a fascinating exhibit and a real pleasure to view and read through.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by David Smitham »

Adam, well done with your exhibit.

David.
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Royalpex 2021 NZ national stamp exhibition, 10-12 September 2021, Palmerston North, NZ.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Thanks guys. Jumping from One Frame to Eight was some task, so I was most surprised to get Gold first time out at that level. Plus being a "Novice" also won me the Philatelic Federation Cup :D .

I think the key was getting 30/35 for Knowledge & Research - it helps to have written the handbook on your topic.

Adam

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by alltorque »

Well done Adam. great work...
cheers

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A couple from the Societe Generale de l'Edition Phonographique.

Almost all copyright stamps are not cancelled, let alone tied by such. This 1920s one is a rare exception. The "S.M' is probably for SchutzMarke (Trademark) with the crown being a mark for Kunstler who made the roll.

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A similar era larger one overprinted for Aeolian.

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Adam.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Australia keeps throwing up these very obscure private revenue stamps for its composers, in this case c.1926 for one Bertrand Robert Strother. First one I've sighted, discovered too late to get into the 2nd edition of the handbook & catalogue.

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Mr Strother obviously didn't waste money on graphic design talent!

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

A mid-1920s Mastertouch with an uncatalogued Coles stamp

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by lsemmens »

Thank you for this illuminating thread. I have a pianola (in need of repair - when I have the time) and several rolls. I must investigate them.

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Re: Copyright stamps on pianola rolls

Post by adam78 »

Let's hope you can find something. I've found interesting items years back in piles of rolls in Perth.

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