Records of the past

Records were not always made from PVC. Animals, vegetables and minerals have all been enlisted in the quest for the perfect reproduction.

The first records (from Berliner - see history of vinyl section) where made from a hard rubber known a vulcanite. Vulcanised rubber is produced by reacting rubber with sulphur or other agents to decrease its surface adhesion and to increase its strength.

Early 78s were made out of shellac, a substance produced from the shells of Indian beetles. The insect Coccus lacca sucks sap from trees and then excretes the residue as a hard shell, attaching itself to branches. The shells are harvested, then crushed and cleaned. Along with shellac, 78s would contain a filler (usually limestone) and carbon black as a colourant. Gum or resin was used as a binder.

Some discs even contained rubbish such as old bottles and bits of masonry. Later the Edison Diamond disc was produced using wood flour, alcohol and phenol formaldehyde.

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