Sam Holloway

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Sam Holloway 2000-05
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- company sleeves from the 50's to the 80's

In a effort to actually have some content on this site, here is (what I hope will become) a useful resource for anyone who is interested in collecting UK 7" (seven inch, metric fans) singles. There are plenty of resources on the web that tell you about the records and the music themselves, so here is my own twist on things...

On this page, you can find links to (evenutally) hundreds of scans of generic record company sleeves. Just below the links, you can find a bit of history about all of this, and also a request for more information. Please do get in touch if you spot mistakes!

Company Sleeve Photos (by label group)

There are currently 74 record sleeves on these pages, featuring designs from 44 record labels. There are notes on each label to give some background (when the label started, the major artists, who owns the label now and so on), then the sleeve designs are shown, with dates of use where known. Here's the list of labels:

They're in alphabetical order at the moment, although I might change that to groupings by parent label company, as interesting parallels in design can be seen (compare Columbia and Parlophone, for instance).

(Note - The sleeve design copyright rests with respective copyright holders; I do not wish to impinge on that in any way. If you wish a label to be removed, please contact me (address below), but I would hope this will not be necessary; I am making no profit from these pages.)


But why have I done this? Well, when 7" 45rpm records first became available in the UK, the sleeves that they came in were just as interesting as the records themselves. Rather than individual sleeves for each song, as seen on singles (vinyl & CD) today, every record released by a record company would come in the same sleeve. The name of the record label was given top priority, just like a brand. After all, if you like some artists on a particular label, you may like others...

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, these generic sleeves were found on nearly every single single. Designing and printing individual covers and labels for each record was prohibitively expensive, especially as less money was spent on marketing and promotion of songs. A few records had their own individual 'picture sleeves' (usually with a photo of the artist or band), but these were exceptions. The music was the most important thing, so why spend money on design?

However, as the 70s drew to a close, and the days of punk and new wave began, artists and record companies began to look for a more individual approach. Singles started appearing with covers tailored to each individual song. At first, records were available in both the special and the generic sleeve, but by the early 80s, fewer and fewer company covers were seen, until practically all records came in picture sleeves. The design of the record label (in the middle of the disc) changed, too - from a generic company design to a custom label for each song as seen today. With more cash available for marketing and promotion, it was the obvious step to take

Company sleeves are interesting today because they symbolise very neatly the designs and fashions of their time. Some were very short lived, whilst others lasted for over ten years. Collectors of records today like to see these sleeves intact; if the record is in an original sleeve in good condition, then the chances are that the disc itself has been well looked after.

Because most of these designs are in good supply, records in their own picture sleeves are almost always worth more than the corresponding generic sleeve (compare Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" - in mint condition, it's worth a couple of pounds in the standard EMI sleeve, but £25 in its own custom casing). Here, collectors are often paying for the sleeve and not the record. There are one or two exceptions, however, where a particular company sleeve is scarce. And of course, for completists and collectors who want their records 'just right', they have to be in the correct sleeve.

Get in touch!

If you like the sound of all of this, and have any information you think would be useful, do let me know at (e-mail contact only, and please do not send any adverts, for sale/wanted). I'd particularly welcome corrections to my comments, start/end dates for particular designs, and any other suggestions you have. I may end up giving a page to each record company itself, with details of artists, and complete listings - perhaps you want to help?