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What Are The Etchings A The End Of A Record? Investigate Common Matrix Etchings

What Are The Etchings A The End Of A Record? Investigate Common Matrix Etchings

Holly Conquer |

Ever looked at the matrix numbers on a record and seen a word like Strawberry or Porky? We're here to tell you what some of those mean! Not sure what we're talking about? Pick up an LP from the 70s or 80s and have a look at the run-out/dead wax at the end of one of the sides. It will contain some etched or stamped text. 

This will generally be in the form of random numbers and letters (often the catalogue number) but sometimes the person pressing the record would put their own spin on it.

Here are nine examples of names or words we've found at the end of records...

Looking to identify a pressing using the runout etchings? Take a look at our posts about understanding matrix codes or our guide to valuing vinyl records.


1. Bilbo


This is a mastering engineer called Denis Blackham. He is from Walthamstow, but now lives in Thailand. Most famous for some of his Bowie pressings, you will often see him writing some variation of 'Bilbo Ta1pe' in the deadwax of his records. 


Bilbo etchings denis blackham

2. Blairs


This particular etching has been displayed in a few ways on runouts over the years, either as “BLAIR”, “BLAIR’S”, “BL⍂IR” or “BL△IR”. The etching itself references Chris Blair, who was a well-renowned disc cutter and tape operator for many famous names in the 60s and 70s, including Abbey Road by The Beatles when he was just 17 and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen in the mid 70s. 

3. Boppin’ Bob


‘Boppin’ John Robert Jones began his career as an audio mastering and cutting engineer back in the 60’s with Decca Records, who he stayed with until 1968 when he moved to Madrid to work for Discos Columbia until ’75.

Many variations of his name (and many nicknames) were etched into runouts of hundreds of albums across the mid 70’s and into the 80’s. You’ll find his marks on albums from The Kinks, Donovan, and Fleetwood Mac. Bob sadly passed away in 2009. 


3.  TOWNHOUSE


An engineering and mastering studio near Shepherd's Bush in London, there are over 12,500 credits for it on Discogs! It was built by Richard Branson and can be credited for some of the highest quality record pressings. Some of the most notable artists to have recorded at Townhouse are Kate BushQueen.

4. Strawberry


The ‘STRAWBERRY’ stamp appeared on the runouts of many UK pressings of the 60s and 70s classics, such as Jackson Browne, Don Henley, and Led Zeppelin.

The etching is about the Strawberry Mastering Label, based in London; a mastering and cutting studio that was only fully operational for five years before becoming affiliated with Strawberry North Recording Studio in Stockport. Strawberry Mastering’s co-owner Eric Stewart was said to have named the studio after The Beatles’ hit 1967 song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

 

5. COIN (¢)


Thomas Paul Coyne was an American mastering engineer who specialised in a healthy amount of genres, including hip-hop, contemporary R&B, and dance throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Coyne even claimed multiple Grammy awards throughout his career, and worked closely with the likes of Taylor Swift and Adele before he passed away in 2017.

He would often include an American cent symbol in the runout etchings of his work, in reference to his last name.


6. Porky Prime Cut


Very famous for his deadwax text, Porky is an engineer called George Peckham. He started his career in 1968 as a trainee disc cutter at Apple Studios and ended up with his own studio called Porky's Mastering Services where he cut some of the most important records of the 80s. 

porky prime cut etching in a vinyl record LP

7. Cookie


Known to be one of a couple of mastering aliases of Ian Cooper. Cooper worked in London for Pye Studios and Utopia Studios throughout the mid 70’s and then went on to create the world’s first independent record cutting room that utilised direct metal mastering. ‘Cookie’ can be seen stamped into runouts of records by Billy Ocean, Showaddywaddy, and Barry White. Cooper retired from the music industry in 2013.  


8. MATT'S


You’ll find “MATT’s” etched into the runouts of records that were mastered by Matt Colton. Colton has worked for many mastering companies in the past couple of decades, including Porky’s, Alchemy Mastering, and Air Mastering.

He even won ‘Mastering Engineer of the Year’ at the Music Producer’s Guild Awards in 2013 and 2018. His stamp can be found on a variety of records from Bryan Jones EPs to Coldplay albums.


9. HTM


HTM is a reference to mastering and cutting engineer Harry T. Moss, who worked for the EMI and Abbey Road Studios.


As a signature or mark of his work, Harry would etch his initials, "HTM," into the dead wax area of vinyl records. This etching served as a form of identification, allowing listeners and collectors to recognise his contributions to the mastering process. Harry Moss's work and his etched initials have become recognisable symbols within the vinyl community, often sought after by collectors as a sign of quality craftsmanship.


The HTM etching can be found on certain pressings of records like Revolver , Obscured By Clouds , and The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Shop HTM Records


There are so many more examples, but we hope that you found this introduction interesting. 

Have you noticed anything interesting written in the run out of a record?


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5 comments

Brilliant piece of information. I always scour the run outs (and all sleeve/liner notes- you don’t get that with yer ‘streamed’ mullarkey). Certainly got some Porky Prime Cuts and some Bilbo’s in my collection 👍

Ade,

It seems if you were ever a punkrock record listener and to some extent heavy metal in 1980s you imidiately looked at runout wax to see what strand sayings the band members wrote on there records ,slogans , obeseneties mostly , but sometimes thanking the dog or cat or parents and of course the records where they recorded on one side and scratched art work on the other side of record if you don’t look at the run out grooves you should do so from now on it can be amusing also

Wiley,

Hi ,
Found on A Players Association 12” Turn The Music Up , read’s Players Loud As You Like !

Ian H,

Damont
often found on Runouts
This was a pressing plant in Hayes Middlesex.
I worked there for several years and we etched the stampers to identify it was pressed by us

Des Lynch ,

Glad to see Bob get a mention 👍

Leigh Durrant ,

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