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Tax code dates Label colours 7"    Middles Picture sleeves  Label colour EPs
Label colour LPs  Label credits Lower case  Type face variants   LP Sleeves
Current collectable LPs     UK export Fakes Contributors info Summary


EMI letter codes

1939 saw the outbreak of World War Two.  One year on,  and the British Government  could not foretell a conclusion to the conflict.  Someone was going to  have to pay for the  draining resources,   so it was decided to introduce a levy on "luxury goods"  of which  phonographic records would be included. Purchase Tax came into force,  starting at a rate of 1/3 rd.   This was added onto the wholesale price, which, obviously was passed on to the consumer via the retail price.   So from October 1940,  EMI, DECCA & PHILIPS Record Companies used a 2-letter Purchase Tax code.  Each time the government changed the percentage rate,  a different code was employed.  EMI labels had theirs embossed adjacent to the center hole on one side of the disc.  "T" was always used as the 2nd letter of the 2. The period of interest to most, for obvious reasons is post 1962:

From                                 Begins
26 July 1961........................OT
10 April 1962........................ZT 
26 November 1962................PT
 1 January 1963...................MT
 1 July 1963.........................KT

However, confusion can arise when:
1. There are no letters near the center - can usually be found within the run-off adjacent to label.
2. There are 3 letters! Within the actual changeover period during a revised tax rate, it was not effective to discard the recent pressing plates (stampers),  so the new (1st) letter  is added.   Sometimes a Stamp with the updated code can be found  adhered to the label or sleeve.  The purpose of adding the new letter immediately, was so that retailers who returned unsold stock of records to the wholesaler, would be credited with the same amount of tax that as paid for said records!

(nb. The above information applies to EMI UK labels: Columbia, HMV, MGM, Parlophone, etc.)

     New @ May 2008: if you would like to read a more detailed study of the history of Britain's Purchase Tax system click here!
Aug 26th 2009:all Tax Codes, dates, other criterion, has now been included in the summary! Follow the above link

So, from this information, the following is deduced:

45rpm  My Bonnie/ The Saints - 5 Jan 1962  (ORANGE SCROLL LABEL)  Polydor NH66833 = OT
45rpm  Love Me Do/ PS I Love You - 5 Oct 1962  (RED LABEL: Gt.B)  Parlophone 45-R 4949 = ZT
45rpm  Please Please Me/ Ask Me Why - 11 Jan 1963  (RED LABEL)  Parlophone 45-R 4983 = MT

LP  PLEASE PLEASE ME - 22 March 1963  (GOLD LETTERING LABEL + Angus McBean credit in
          EXTREME bottom right corner front sleeve)  PMC 1202 / PCS 3042 = MT

45rpm  From Me To You/ Thank You Girl - 11 Apr 1963  (now BLACK LABEL)  Parl.R 5015 = MT
EP  Twist And Shout - 12 July 1963 Parlophone GEP 8882…and all subsequent releases

i.e.: Singles, EP's, LPs have KT, up to and including the very first issues the "THE BEATLES" White Album which was released in November 1968.  However, I have recently (May 2008) found KT on record 2 only of this release.

Contradictory to the above, I have the LP "WITH THE BEATLES" - issued 22 Nov 1963 with MT. This is 4 months on from the change to  KT, so….? And now I have found A HARD DAY'S NIGHT LP with MT!

It should be noted that PT & KT commencement dates were for EMI price increases, and not the tax rate.

Many emails are received on the aforementioned subject. If you have a disc that has letters embossed that are uncharacteristic to the standard criterion, this is a somewhat interesting variation, and is of possible interest to the obsessive collector. 

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Label Colours: Singles:
Love Me Do - states "Made in Gt. Britain"  RED = Oct 1962 on.  No "Made.." Early-Mid 1963.  However, BLACK LABEL is very scarce.  Most, probably issued for only the rest of 1963/ early '64, of which there are 2 variations in recordings, that can be identified by the Matrix number ending in 1N or 2.  Please Please Me - RED. Initial copies have the cat. no R 4983 prefixed with "45". BLACK label more common. From Me To You onwards are all BLACK. All singles have the word PARLOPHONE on the label in SILVER.

Middles (or Centers) on ALL Parlophone  Singles & EP's with 4 SPOKES are 1st pressings.   Solid middles are circa May 1968 onwards.  "Lady Madonna" and the 5 APPLE singles  are scarcer with 4 spoke middles.   "Hey Jude" & Mary Hopkin's "Those Were The Days" were APPLE'S first 2 releases.   Due to their enormous success,  EMI commissioned PHILIPS to press a quantity of these 2 issues.   These can be recognized by their characteristic of having 3 spoke centers.  These examples are scarce.

Picture Sleeves:
Up to 1970, ONLY 2 Beatles Singles were issued in a Picture Sleeve:
Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane - limp paper, with the fold over on the reverse having curved ends. 
Let It Be/ You Know My Name ( b side the demise of the Beatles!?) in thick stock card with the fold over on the reverse having curved ends.

Label Colours: EP's:
All have BLACK Labels with the word "PARLOPHONE" in Yellow- the exception being the M. M. T. Set which have Silver "PARLOPHONE"  labels.

Label Colours: LP's:

Please Please Me - Very Dark BROWN  Label with GOLD LETTERING.  Very 1st pressings have Dick James Music  crediting 5 of the songs.  Subsequent pressings have the corrected Northern Songs.  Correct Sleeve (watch for sleeve switching to upgrade) has the photo credit Angus McBean bottom right of front cover to the extreme right - more so than Yellow label Issues. See illustration.  Also, sleeve is printed by E. J. Day, and the word MONO or STEREO on the front of the sleeve in large letters.  GOLD label was only available for a few weeks. STEREO* IS VERY RARE! All subsequent releases have BLACK labels and the word "PARLOPHONE" in Yellow..
              *NM/NM will be £8000+ by 2005 (or before! - ..Dec 2004...getting there
Label Credits:
In 1964, the practice of the Retail Price Maintenance was abolished, and a new act replaced it called the Resale Prices Act. This forbid individual manufacturers attempting to enforce a fixed resale price. Noted on EMI's labels from the date of this act is the statement "SOLD IN THE U.K. SUBJECT TO RESALE PRICE CONDITIONS SEE PRICE LISTS". This is printed on or near the center of the label on all  Singles,  EP's & LPs  from the beginning of 1964  through to August 1969. The last single to have this was Ballad of John and Yoko. The last Album was Yellow Submarine

"The Parlophone Record Co Ltd"  is printed around the perimeter of the label of all releases of Singles & EPs prior to 1966, but only up to mid 1965 for LPs - i.e. "Beatles For Sale" being the last. The Gramophone Co Ltd"  is printed around the perimeter for the LP "Help" and all Singles & EPs 1966 onwards. Any that contradict these factors are rare, assuming that they are genuine true to-the-period pressings.

"Lower Case"

1st pressings of pre 1964 & "A Hard Day's Night" singles have the crediting around the perimeter in lower case lettering.   All other singles, all EP's and all  LPs have theirs in CAPITOL lettering.  

Type Face Variants

Apart from Mono and Stereo pressings of A Hard Day's Night having a definitive characteristic label that identifies a true first pressing (employed for the first few months only)...
...Sans Serif, Times Roman, etc...  this topic, along with type face layouts, in my opinion is of no significance..
 ..but if one has money to burn, please email your specific wants.. can most probably accommodate!

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LP Inner Sleeves:
Note that  Original Pressings of the 1st three albums come with  EMITEX "Important" blurb/ center cut Inner Sleeves that are made of  thin paper and are lined with clear polythene.   Late '64 HDN  pressing  to Rubber Soul  have the more common semi-opaque liners.   1st Revolver & Oldies have the plain,  uncut inner stating "PATENTS APPLIED FOR".   From the beginning of 1967,  these 2 LPs have the b & w EMI x 32 illustrated (incl. Revolver & Oldies)  albums Inner.    The latter end of July to end 1968,  the dark red & white EMI x 32  illustrated  (incl. Sgt. Pepper) Inner was employed.   All these generic inners were used for Parlophone & Columbia Records.  Unless inners are "switched", LPs can be instantly identified  as to year of manufacture.  This does not take into account label identifications.    nb:  initial issues of  Sgt Pepper have unique design of red & white inners.  The White Album & Abbey Road: Black APPLE Inners that are unique to APPLE ONLY. Abbey Road can also have PATENT (S dropped) APPLIED FOR or the Patent numbered inner.

LP Covers:
Albums issued within the UK, by the record companies, have laminated (patented "Clarifoil") front covers, and fold over top and bottom edge (termed "flap" or "flip-back"), and also the spine end. Decca's sleeves post mid 1965 have the fold over's tucked inside the back section. Thus, along with the thin card, true near mint sleeves on the Decca, Brunswick, London labels are now proving to be elusive! 

E.M.I. sleeves, however, are a healthier aspect.  Pre 1970 have "flaps" on the 3 sides.  This rule excludes sleeves that are laminated front and back, and gatefold sleeves.   E.M.I. contracted 2 printers for supplying the covers: Garrod Lofthouse Ltd, and Ernest J. Day.  E.J. Day printed all the very first sleeves of "Please Please Me".  It is also generally regarded that any pre "Oldies" issues are slightly more desireable having an E.J. Day cover.  However, many collectors now own each title by both printers.

Current collectable LP's

* Any truly MINT/ MINT- 
* 1st album with gold label as already stated.
* Decca pressed, identified by a ridge/ recess ("deep groove") set into the label area.
    It would be interesting to know how many of the Beatles titles are in existence with this characteristic.
* Mint "Please Please Me" Stereo - 1st pressing
* Mint  "With The Beatles" Stereo - 1st pressing
* 1st press "With The Beatles" with MONO or STEREO omitted from the front cover
* Mint "HDN" Stereo - 1st pressing (see illustration above)
* "Rubber Soul" with matrix # in run-off ending in -1 on either side (indicates that the volume reproduction
                            sound is slightly increased). There are permutations, obviously the must have is  -1 / -1.
* Mono "Revolver" with matrix XEX 606-1  on side 2  run-off. This is now well documented.
* Low no'd  sleeve "The Beatles" White Album (below 2000 is considered low)
* "Sgt. Pepper" with 4th Proof stated on inside top flap.
* "Sgt. Pepper.." omitting  "Day In A Life" on the label ( this is a 1969 non-KT pressing)
* "Abbey Road" with the Apple logo on back sleeve set to the very edge ("mis-aligned"). Not as rare as led to believe.
      Note that as the ditty 'Her Majesty' was decided at the very final publishing stage to be included on the album, 
      the omission on the label of the title is standard on all early pressings, and is not a misprint.
* UK Exports  CPCS & P-PCS  with yellow "Parlophone" or ODEON labels.

UK Export:

EMI, DECCA, PYE were the main record companies who manufactured singles, EP's (not many) & LPs that were specifically for the European market - Belgium, Germany, Holland,  Sweden, etc,  and some for the USA.   These pressings state on the labels "Made In England" or "Made In Gt. Britain", and have the UK label design layout.   In the case of singles,  it was up to the country that was distributing the record what  Picture  Sleeve would compliment the disc. 
Beatles UK Export records were issued on the Parlophone label.  This includes the LPs Yellow Submarine,  White Album,  Abbey Road, Let It Be, which were issued on both silver Parlophone logo label & yellow Parlophone, the latter being the rarest.   Along with the LP "Please Please Me" Gold Stereo,  these fetch over £1000 in  Excellent condition.   One strange observation:  I have had "If I Fell" export single with "Sold In The UK…" conditions stated on the label. I can only assume that this was an error that was corrected.

Additional information on Beatles pressings can be found within the sales listings on this site.


Not to be confused with "Bootleg"  (which is the terminology for an unofficial pressing of an unreleased recording/s),   "Fake" or "Counterfeit" items are products  that are manufactured  to deceive the unsuspecting collector - or possibly the dealer!   There are clever and not-so-clever fakes out there, so it's buyer beware. 
Beatles records (and memorabilia) are an obvious target for the hungry market that has increased in popularity in the last few years.  USA issues were being ripped off in the 1960's,  so this area can be a minefield.  In most cases, official UK issues are easily identified due their quality finish.
Sheet Music...  my opinion on this subject is on the Sales Policy page.

UK Fakes known by myself are:

PARLOPHONE DEMONSTRATION SINGLES: Fake Red & White Labels have shiny red "A" and very white paper. Later green labels have varying type-face.  Parlophone labels would have "KT" embossed (see above), but as the fake labels are overlaid onto a standard issue, there should be no KT on a fake demo. Also, the paper trim around the center will not be perfect.

FAN CLUB FLEXI-DISC for 1963: Repro yellow gatefold sleeve - lighter in colour, new staples. Disc housed inside is original - has discolouration on one half of the label.

FAN CLUB LP ON APPLE: Cover not laminated. Dodgy looking label!

LET IT BE 7" PS: Basically the appearance of a photocopy.

BANGLA-DESH PS & Rare EBONY & IVORY SLEEVES: not thick stock card, and not "curved" flaps as official Apple Picture sleeves possess.

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Extra information from contributors:

Origin from: Richard Foster on the Phonogram web discussion group ,
published by Michael Fremer in 'Analog Corner' in Stereophile magazine:

"EMI used a code based upon "G R A M O P H L T D" (Gramophone, Ltd.) with "G" being 1, "R" being 2,  through "D" which is 0. These letters representing stamper numbers can be found at "3 O clock" in the lead out groove area.  So if your copy of Revolver has a "G" only, it is the very first stamper made  from a given "mother." The "mother" number can be found at the "9 O clock" position. 
In response to the above;  from

Thanks also for the information about the stamper codes. I was aware that EMI used the codes in this way, though I thought it was G-R-A-M-O-P-H-O-N-E (and I could never work out what they did with the two 'O's) Truncating and adding the LTD makes sense. 

I agree that the codes do give us more information about 'what happened first', though we need to tread with care - I have a first copy of All You Need Is Love with a pushout center but without the 'Live' notice which came from stamper #6 (mother #1), whereas a later copy that carries the 'Live' message comes from stamper 156 (mother #1).

However, I also have a pair of solid centered copies, the stamper numbers are 17 (no Live message) and 42 (Live message), but these come from mother #2 - I assume this means that mother 1 was a 'pushout mother' and #2 a solid one. The mother number is not, therefore, a reliable indicator of age - we need to know how many mothers were created (simultaneously) from the original matrix to discover the truth, and this cannot be deduced from the codes alone.

I also believe that the stamper codes are useful in determining the authenticity of demo singles - the very first batches were pressed with different codes, using letters not from the 'codeword' such as J, K etc. Most of these ended up with the 'A' label, but some were also issued as regular stock releases. These may yet become the next 'desirable' item to have as they are unequivocally amongst the first few hundred pressed, yet can be picked up at normal prices. I wait for the resultant explosion in interest..


Please note that the above statements  are my interpretation of observations and studies  made during the course of collecting and dealing in records. They are here for anyone who wishes to inspect their own collection more closely. It is not intended for use as a referral for anybody purchasing records from another person. The same applies to contributions kindly submitted by others.

If you are interested in contributing any information that you think would be appropriate for this page, you are welcome to email with the information. This must include your full name, email address that is registered under your own name, and own web site address if you have one.  If received information is entered onto this page, if so desired, the contributor may have their name and web site address annotated. Only original UK Vinyl pressings information is of interest. Thank you. 

More verbal diarrhea on UK issue records = pertainng to this site's inventory

ps. If you want Free Information about EMI's Contract Pressings, with illustrations, Select45rpm has an interesting summary!
So all in all, no need to purchase a publication.. so much information is now widely available for free on the Internet !

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