Records always came in some kind of bag. 78 rpm discs had manufacturers’ labels on the brown paper sleeves, and record retailers often replaced them with bags bearing their own logo, just as a supermarket has labelled bags. I love the design statements of these records, which I’ve picked up as art, even if I have no means of playing them.
There’s a phenomenon with 78s. Far, far fewer are in the original sleeves than 45s are. Yes, they’ve had more years in which to become separated, but there’s such a strong difference. I was checking in a 78 specialist shop who was careful about condition and still 75% were in the wrong sleeves. it’s a pity, because they produced some wonderful sleeves in the 1930s and 1940s.
Decca decided to go for a simple strong image, giving brand identity, as with the art deco cover from an ancient 78 record. Primo Scala was one Harry Bidgood. The Decca ‘Supreme Records’ sleeve was in use until the early-50s.
Columbia went for their Inspiration series.
Columbia produced their sleeve to advertise the 1940 Olympics in Helsinki. No, they didn’t happen, because World War II got in the way.
This one is early Zonophone.
Regal Zonophone advertised itself as Always the most novel and unusual in records. A good slogan, but wrapped around the Billy Cotton Band 78 record (as here) it doesn’t ring true.
Brunswick were unmissable in glowing scarlet sleeves.
Some replaced them with stiffer card sleeves (see card sleeves) and this persisted into the days of the 45 rpm single.
Companies had started labelling their bags, initially with advertising. The 1930s Parlophone sleeve from a ten inch 78 rpm record is covered with advertising and information.
In terms of graphic design, these late 30s sleeves are better than anything that followed them for a very long time.
A lot of early 50s 78s literally arrived in a “brown paper bag” of the thickness and quality greengrocers used for broken biscuits.