A Brief Guide to the ARC Numbering System

Around September of 1935, the American Record Corporation (ARC) revamped their catalog numbering system for most of their budget labels.  Prior to this change, all of the multitude of labels made by the ARC used different numbering schemes for their cataloging, and this new system created a unified system of numbers.

This new cataloging system involved a five digit code consisting of three numbers separated by hyphens.  The first number represents the year of release, the second the month of release, and the third the release number and series (e.g. popular, race).

The first number used a single digit code for the release year.  For example: 6 would equate to 1936, 7 to ’37, and so on.  The first two months of releases using this system used 35 as the first number before changing to the single digit system in November of that year.

The second, two digit number, quite straightforwardly, refers to the month of release, 01 for January, 04 for April, 11 for November, and so on.

The third number refers to the release number of the record, 01 would be the first issue, 12 for the twelfth, etc.  Beginning around November 1935, releases in the popular series used numbers beginning at 01 for the final number, and releases in the Race/Country & Western series began at 51.

For example: 7-04-18 would be the eighteenth issue in the popular series for April of 1937, 7-04-68 would be the eighteenth in the Race/Country series.

Romeo 1936In the case of the record pictured, Romeo 6-06-03, the numbers equate to the following:

  • 6: the year of release, 1936
  • 06: the month of release, June
  • 03: the release number, third in the popular series

That means the above record is the third record released in the popular series in June of 1936.

The ARC used this system for Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, and Romeo.  Conqueror and many of the ARC’s small client labels did not adopt the system.

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