Label Types of Bluebird Records:
with particular reference to differences in Canadian and American issues
In 1990 Colin Bray began gathering information for
a book on Canadian 78 rpm record labels. We had
known for some years that the various Bluebird
label types had not been used at the same time in
Canada as in the us, mainly from Steve Barr's brief
description of the label in his book, "The almost complete 78 rpm record dating guide". The present article is
an attempt to pin down more accurately when these
various label types were used. More specifically it concerns the 10" popular series which ran from 1933 to
1945, although other series will be mentioned later in
this article. There was another Blue Bird label (note
spelling) which was a Paramount derivative from the
1921-22 period (Rust) but this is not part of our study.
We are concerned only with the Bluebird label derived
from the Victor company.
The popular series began in August 1932 (Barr) at
serial number 1800 (Barr; Rust; Sherman). These were
8" records which changed to 10" at 1820 in April
1933 (Barr) and continued to 1853. The colour of the label
was dark blue and black (Sherman). In May 1933 the
numbering system changed to B-5000. In 1938 it
jumped from B-7875 to B-10000 (Barr; Sherman). In
November 1942 it reached B-11594 (Rust) and then
changed to 30-0800. It reached 30-0835 in 1945, at
which time the Bluebird label ended. The name was
revived around 1951-52 as the "Bluebird series" on the
RCA Victor label.
Canadian Buff - early variety
Canadian Buff - later variety
Figure I demonstrates that Bluebird used a buff
label,a staff label, and a dog label in Canada. In the US
Bluebird had two varieties of dog label which we call
"dog 3" (because it had three lines of type around the
bottom of the label) and "dog 2" (two lines). We must
stress that the dates shown in Figure I are approximate
having been interpolated from data in Barr.
The bar chart shows the latest date on which a
specific type of label was being used. This is based on
the highest serial number of that type we have found.
There may well be records of that type which bear
slightly higher numbers. For example, the vertical line
at the beginning of the staff bar shows the approximate
date when the staff label was introduced. When a record
from an earlier era was re-released, it would bear the
label that was being used at the time of re-release
instead of the original label. Thus, we can find a record
bearing a serial number from 1934, the buff era, which
was re-released in 1942 bearing the then current "dog 2"
In Canada, the buff label was used for the popular
series until October 1939, and the highest number we
have found is B-10423. The staff label was used from
October 1939 until April 1940 (highest number B-10666) and the "dog 2" label was used from April 1940
until circa January 1945 (highest number 30-0833). In
addition, two varieties of the Canadian buff label have
been identified. In 1929 RCA announced the purchase of
Victor in the US in a deal which included the Victor
Talking Machine Company of Canada. The company is
shown as such around the bottom of the early buff
Bluebird label variety, the highest number we have
found is B-5663 (c. November 1934). No reference whatsoever is made to RCA at this time. The later buff label has printed around the bottom "RCA Victor Company Limited, Montreal, Canada". The first issue we have
found is B-5795 (c. February 1935). It appears the change
was made around December 1934/January 1935.
Canadian "dog 2"
American "dog 3"
American "dog 2"
In the US the buff label was used until September
1937, and the highest number we have found is B-7101.
The staff label was used until November 1938 (highest
number in the popular series is B-7875). The "dog 3"
label was used until circa January 1943 (highest number
B-11587) and the "dog 2" label was used until circa
January 1945 (highest number 30-0831).
Although the dates are approximate, Figure I shows
that the buff label was used for a longer period in
Canada than in the us. The staff label was used in
Canada for a shorter period and at a later date than in
the US. Today the staff label is the rarest of the three
There are several other series which are not included in Figure
1. They are:
B-2199 - B-2002
US only, Cajun (note series runs
backwards!) June 1935 - September
B-7876 - B-9042
Country, Race, and Rhythm and
Blues, Canada and us, November
1938 - circa June 1942
Canada only, French Canadian,
probably early 1940s
B-2200 - B-4999 was called an International series
that was current from April 1934 to March 1942 (Rust).
We have identified two series, the first is a B-4800 -
B4999 series which includes some Canadian country and
French Canadian recordings. This series ran from probably 1933 - 1935 (Barr). The second runs from art least B-4680 (July 1940) to B-4730 (November
1941) (Barr). This series includes Canadian popular material. We feel both
these series might be exclusively Canadian but this needs
In November 1942 Bluebird altered its numerical
system to four-figure serials prefixed by a two-figure category code (Rust). Those so far identified are as follows:
Popular, (US and Canada), 30-0800
1942) - 30-0835 (c. January 1945)
Popular, (US), RCA Victor - Bluebird series, (Barr
Country, (US), 33-0500 (November
1942) - 33-0535
Race, (US), 34-0700
(November 1942) - 34-0743
Canada only. Country and French Canadian. These
may be in different series with the same prefix.
Canada only, Country, RCA Victor - Bluebird series.
Barr reports this is a reissue in 1951-1952 of the 21
prefixed series and was issued in Canada, possibly
In addition there was also a series of Children’s
records. These were issued with serial numbers ranging
from 1 to 1000 with prefixes which included Bk and By
from May 1936 (Rust) to the early 1950s (Sherman).
The Bluebird label was discontinued sometime
after 1946 (Sherman). The name was revived as the
"Bluebird series" on the RCA Victor label.
Examples of the Canadian buff, staff and "dog 2"
labels are shown in Plates 1, 2, 4 and 6, respectively. The
American buff, staff, "dog 3" and "dog 2" labels are illustrated in Plates 3, 5, 7 and 8, respectively.
Barr S.C. "The almost complete 78 rpm record dating
guide" (2nd edition) 1979, Published Privately,
Rust B. "The American
Record Label Book". 1978,
House, New Rochelle.
Sherman M.W. "The Collector’s Guide to Victor
Records", 1992, Monarch Record Enterprises,
The authors wish to thank Gene Miller for making
his record collection available to us, and to Ken Crawford
for supplying information from his collection.