E.P.I. – épis de blé (Carte Postale Parlante)

Please note: This is a discographical catalog - items are NOT available for sale from us

Information on French trademarks obtained from Henri Chamoux

Introductory notes:
The basic idea of a gramophone postcard is to glue a single sided miniature disc record onto a postcard and punch a center hole through both card and disc. For further details see the exploratory history of the phono postcard

Épis de blé:
Probably the first company in France to manufacture real phono cards on a commercial scale was E.P.I. In December 1908 E.P.I. (Épis de blé) was registered as a trademark in Paris for the Compagnie Générale d' Electricité. The protected design is a pair of  wheat grains (épis de blé), and a similar logo - only one grain - can be found on most specimen pressed into the discs and/or printed on the reverse of the cards. All cards inspected use a  see-through elluloid as sound carrier. Full details are written in long-hand around the center hole, much like Berliner discs.Card designs and musical selections are carefully matched, and since the celluloid is clear the designs are not obscured - quite unlike the cheap mass prodution by Raphael Tuck some 20 years later.

It might well be that at least some postcards were actually designed and printed in Germany, as the paintings used are signed by German-sounding names (Edmund Brüning, Splitgerber jun) and some discs bear the information "importé". In fact, at least four types of backs are known:
Type 1: Undivided back. E.P.I. Paris 301. The instructions on front suggest to fix the postcards on the turntable with two pins! "Placer cette Carte Postale Parlante sur une machine parlante quelconque, comme on le ferait pour un disque. (N.B.: Assujettir la carte sur le plateau avec le chapeau de l'appareil ou par 2 épingles)"

Type 2: Divided back. E.P.I. Paris. Same instructions printed on the back.

Type 3: Divided back. "Carte Postale à utiliser seulement dans le service intérieur (France, Algérie, Tunisie)"

Type 4: Undivided back. Multilingual references to postcard and the Universal Postal Union. Detailed information on Series and different designs. The letters "HSM" may indicate the printers. This is design #4 (or one of four designs) in Series 1.

Label listing:
EPI Gramophone Postcards

The copies inspected bear no matrix numbers, and no order numbers. Unless a catalog turns up it will be impossible to determine the total number of cards produced, and information can only be derived from physical autopsy of the artifacts. If you have additions or corrections: Please contact us by e-mail: Birgit-Lotz-Verlag

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Rainer E. Lotz
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