A selection of Vogue picture records from the Todd collection was on display in the Department of Special Collections during May and June 2000. Approximately seventy-four titles were produced by Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan from May 1946 through August 1947 which are highly prized by collectors for their colorful designs. All of the library’s Vogue Picture Records are cataloged in UCSB Library Search, the Library’s online catalog. Search under the subject heading “Picture discs” to find these and other picture discs the library owns.
Images from twelve of the discs are available on the UCSB Library's Digital Collections page.
This selection of Vogue Picture Records from the Todd Collection (PA Mss 1) is a sampling of 35 of the 74 different issues produced by Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan between May 1946 and August 1947. Sav-Way primarily recorded lesser known big band, popular and country artists of the late 1940s. Regardless, Vogue discs were a hit with the public and sold in large numbers, due to the colorful and risqué pictures and the fact that Sav-Way’s superior technology resulted in better sounding records than from conventional shellac discs. The discs were manufactured by sandwiching the printed artwork between a piece of aluminum and a clear vinyl coating and then stamped with the record’s grooves. Nonetheless, the novelty wore off and the company went bankrupt a little over a year after the introducing the discs.
As only a popular and mass-market art form is able to do, Vogue Picture Records offer an unselfconscious reflection of the social attitudes and values of the period immediately after World War II. American consumerism had been put in check by the Great Depression and rationing during World War II, and these discs reflect both the post-war optimism and America’s new desire to leave that era behind. Even in their manufacture, Vogue discs, made their aluminum cores, could not have been made during the War when aluminum was rationed due to the demands of airplane manufacturing.
Optimistic themes common to the post war era are evident throughout in the images on the discs. This exhibit is grouped into discs showing musical images, idyllic western and cowboy scenes, discs reflecting the rumba/exotica craze of the 1940s and 1950s and by far the most common, discs with themes and images of love, sexuality and courtship. Many images have sinister undertones, but as we now recognize, the Post-War era was not as idyllic as it seemed.
Long the interest of record collectors, Vogue discs are prized primarily for two reasons. Despite Sav-Way’s inability to attract big-name talent, the colorful pictures make the discs more interesting artifacts than the drab black shellac records that had dominated the market since the invention of the flat disc at the turn of the 19th century. Second, the limited number of different titles (74) makes it possible for collectors to find all of the records.
The Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors is “an international organization of collectors and enthusiasts of Vogue picture records.” Their web site features a comprehensive discography.
Image caption: Picture Record R 734. Art Kassel & his orchestra. “A little consideration."