October 31, 1990

Vogue: The Picture Record.  By Edgar L. Curry.  Published by the author, 8502 8th Avenue W., Everett, WA 98204.  (1990, 92 pp.)  $19.95.

Reviewed by Tim Brooks

The colorful Vogue Picture Records produced in the U.S. between 1946 and 1947 have become highly collectible in recent years.  This is certainly not due to the quality of the music, most of which is quite pedestrian late‑1940s pop material (although a few sides by jazzman Charlie Shavers, bandleader Art Mooney and a country band called the Down Homers, which may have included a young Bill Haley, stand out).  The interest is probably due more to Vogue’s gaudy, campy illustrations, which are prototypically “forties.”  Even contemporary reviewers called them “glamour‑puss disks” and, less kindly, “coal company calendar art.”

Collector Edgar Curry has put together a remarkably professional‑looking small book on the label, highlighted by large size photographs of all 67 single 78s and eight 78 rpm albums known to have been released.  In addition, several misnumberings and other rarities are pictured.  Most of the many illustrations are in black and white, although a few are reproduced in the gloriously garish full color for which Vogue is famous.

In addition to the pictorial directory, Mr. Curry has reprinted (with minor updates) a history of the label by this reviewer, which originally appeared in Record Research magazine in 1977.  The article includes information from several people associated with the company and its founder, Tom Saffady, who died in 1954.  A detailed discography from the same source is also included, along with a price guide developed by Mr. Curry.  Values assigned to individual issues range from $40 to $400, the highest being reserved for number R713, which no one has ever seen, and no. R784.  A relative rarity chart indicates how many copies of each Vogue were actually located among a sample of collectors.

The production values of the book are exceptionally high, with an easy to read layout and a full color cover that is guaranteed to catch the eye‑‑as did the original Vogues.  It is a pleasure to see a self‑published book designed and executed this professionally.

This reviewer has no financial interest in the book (permission to reprint the text materials was willingly granted without charge), and one doubts that Mr. Curry will make much on it either, given the high cost of production.  Quite a few Vogue collectors contributed illustrations and information to the project.  The result is a comprehensive study of a minor albeit colorful part of record history that anyone interested in the subject should see.


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