Gramophone Company Limited 1898 - 1931

industry:
Manufacturer,
Record label,
Supplier
Nationality:
British
based:
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

The UK Gramophone Company was established by William Barry Owen and Edmund Trevor Lloyd Williams as the UK partner to the United States Gramophone Company established by Emile Berliner 5 years previous. The company was an early recording company that also expanded into sourcing and manufacturing gramophones and wireless sets. In 1900, the company briefly changed its name to Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd however, except for these few years, the company remained the Gramophone Company Limited until the merger in 1931.

In 1899, the company acquired their famous trademark of Nipper the dog listening to a gramophone from artist Francis Barraud that is still used today by HMV. They began using the trademark on British phonogram recordings in 1908 and introduced the new labels with their new trademark "His Master's Voice" (HMV) in 1909. The general public began colloquially referring to the company as His Master's Voice or HMV from this point on, however, the company did not officially change its name from the Gramophone Company Limited.

In 1921, the company opened the first HMV shop in London and in 1927 HMV produced its first electric gramophone. In 1929, HMV acquired Marconiphone and began producing domestic radio sets.

In 1931, the Gramophone Company merged with Colombia Graphophone Company to form Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). Despite this, the name did live on for many decades, especially for copyright notices on records.

In 1957 EMI ceased making domestic products under the HMV name and sold the brand names HMV and Marconiphone to Ferguson who started to make products branded with these names sold by a new Thorn subsidiary, the 'British Radio Corporation' (BRC). BRC was renamed in the early 1970s as 'Thorn Consumer Electronics' and by 1979 the HMV brand name had been sold to Fidelity Radio. The HMV trademark continues in use around the world, in the UK by the HMV Group who acquired the trademark from EMI in 2003.