Exploring Albany's inglorious past and dubious future

The Indestructible Record Company

At one time, Albany was home to one of the four major labels in the recording industry.

The first celluloid cylinders marketed in the U.S. were the Lambert Indestructible Records, manufactured in Chicago by the Lambert Company, between 1900 and 1905. When they went bankrupt in 1906, the patent rights and technology passed on to the Indestructible Phonographic Record Company, which opened shop at 236-240 Hamilton Street, Albany, in 1907.

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After a year as an independent label, Indestructible was hired as the cylinder pressing plant for Columbia. The latter had retooled its Bridgeport, CT plant for the manufacture of flat discs, and retained Indestructible to keep its titles available in cylinder format. The arrangement with Columbia ended in 1912 when that company discontinued its cylinder line. After this, Indestructible returned to issuing its own titles, selling directly and through Sears Roebuck & Co. (as Oxford Indestructible Records) and Montgomery Ward.

Indestructible produced both two- and four-minute cylinder recordings. Between 1907 and 1922, they issued 1,598 titles, almost all of which have survived. You can hear them – in astonishingly good fidelity – here: http://www.youtube.com/user/2minuteAlbanyArchive/videos

In 1917 the company was re-organized as the Federal Record Corporation, which began disc record production in 1919. The label’s output was small and uneventful and today very few Federal discs have survived.

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A tremendous fire destroyed their factory in October, 1922. All the masters were miraculously found intact in a vault beneath the rubble. The fire marked the end of Federal’s cylinder manufacturing. Operations were moved to 279 Madison Ave and Federal limped along issuing flat discs until finally calling it quits in 1925.

After they cleared the rubble from the fire, the Metro Garage was built on the same spot.

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