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 Post subject: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:38 am 
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Victor O
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
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Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
On the packaging of early Pathé records, both disc sleeves and cylinder cartons, one sometimes sees a messages stamped in blue ink: No DE L'ÉCOUTEUSE with a number below. I should like to know what this means. The translation is obvious enough – 'Number of the listener' – but what exactly was an écouteuse? Does this refer to a Pathé employee (a woman, since the word has a feminine ending) whose job was to listen to each record and ensure that it was playable before passing it for distribution? Or was an écouteuse a machine rather than a person? In that case the reference must be to a player, perhaps coin-operated and probably fitted with earphones, provided at Pathé showrooms so that customers could hear at least part of the record before buying it. My guess is that the first idea is correct, but does anyone actually know?

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:28 am 
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Victor V
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Needle Tins are Addictive
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I think it simply means - "recording number"

Since variations of the word mean listening, earphone, headphone... they all seem to be referring to recording and a literal translation does not seem to work...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:55 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
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Pathé had a large shop in Paris, where customers would pay to listen to a disc that would be picked by employees from a huge archive downstairs. There was a line of listening cabins upstairs, so my guess is that the discs that had these markings come from such shop and were assigned to specific listening posts or machines. I've seen a photo of this shop, but I cannot locate it now. It could also be some form of quality control sampling, as you mention, so both of your hypotheses are plausible.

I don't think it is related to the record number, as the number is pressed on the disc surface, and it would require individualization of each sleeve, which is not the case (only some seem to show this marking).

I never noticed such marking on my Pathé discs or cylinders, I'll start to pay attention.


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:48 pm 
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Victor I
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"Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?" - Graham Chapman
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:45 pm
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I second Curt. When I tried translating it, it came out as "header number", so I think he's on to something.
SOUSA, The March King, says:

"Your 'VICTOR' and 'MONARCH' Records are all right."


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:00 pm 
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Victor II
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Location: The verifiable exact geographic center of California.
CarlosV wrote:
Pathé had a large shop in Paris, where customers would pay to listen to a disc that would be picked by employees from a huge archive downstairs. There was a line of listening cabins upstairs, so my guess is that the discs that had these markings come from such shop and were assigned to specific listening posts or machines. I've seen a photo of this shop, but I cannot locate it now. It could also be some form of quality control sampling, as you mention, so both of your hypotheses are plausible.

I don't think it is related to the record number, as the number is pressed on the disc surface, and it would require individualization of each sleeve, which is not the case (only some seem to show this marking).

I never noticed such marking on my Pathé discs or cylinders, I'll start to pay attention.


If (dim) memory serves, that photo may have been in Gelatt's The Fabulous Phonograph, but I've not had a copy in years.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. ~ Mark Twain


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:52 pm 
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Victor IV
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^ The photo in Gelatt's book is of Parisians listening to cylinders in the Pathé Salon du Phonographe.

The caption claims cylinders anyway. It's kind of hard to tell from the picture.


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 Post subject: Re: Meaning of 'Écouteuse' on Pathé sleeves & cartons
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:17 pm 
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Victor Jr
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:11 pm
Posts: 19
According to Paul Charbon's book, "L'aventure des frères Pathé - Du coq au saphir", page 169, an 'écouteuse', which literally translates as 'a female listener', was a Pathé female staff member who's basic task was to perform the quality check of Pathé recordings on a chain of external horn(!) phonographs that were electrically powered by a main/shared motor.


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