August 15th, 2015
There are many factors that determine the collectability of early CDs. Of course, the artist, album, and rarity and factors. Another feature discussed here in the past is aesthetics, in particular, the design on the CD label side. For years, collectors have routinely paid a significant premium for early West German CDs with unique painted label designs. Many of these discs have been posted here over the years. Today, we consider a CD set bearing a label design that I had not seen before. It is a classical set on the Italian Fonit Cetra label.
The featured early release is a two-disc set titled Arturo Toscanini Dirige Richard Wagner. “Dirige” is Italian for “directs”. Thus, the album features the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini. For this recording, Toscanini leads the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
This Toscanini set was released on the Italian Fonit Cetra label under catalog number CDC 3, and the two CDs are dated 1984. It is packaged in the original two-disc jewel case, sometimes referred to as the “fatboy”. Thus, there are both front and back inserts, and the booklet is inside the jewel case. The inserts are unique by virtue of a silver foil coating, especially visible on the back insert. The front insert shows an intense Toscanini with the recording title in the bottom left corner. The Fonit Cetra logo appears in the top left corner of the front and back inserts. The back insert is printed primarily in Italian, but it does state “Made in Italy” and “CD printed in Japan”. The booklet has liner notes printed in Italian and English.
The two CDs were pressed in Japan by Denon. Discs 1 and 2 bear catalog numbers CDC 3 – A and CDC 3 – B, respectively. Both discs have the matrix code stamped in the familiar Denon dot-matrix font, and the matrix codes for Discs 1 and 2 are “CDC-3-A 1A1 4Z” and “CDC-3-B 1A1 4Z”, respectively. The draw to this set, aside from Toscanini and Wagner, is the unique label design. Both discs have a striking pink swirl, with the Fonit Cetra logo in pink and black. The text is printed in black on the two discs. Both discs have “Fonit Cetra S.p.A. Milano ℗ 1984 made by Nippon Columbia (Denon) Co., Ltd., Japan” printed at 3 o’clock.
This CD set appears to be very rare, as it likely saw limited distribution outside of Italy. A question now is whether other Fonit Cetra titles were released with this or other unique label designs. Are there other early Fonit Cetra titles for the aesthetically-driven collector to “target”?
Shown below are the front and back inserts for Arturo Toscanini Dirige Richard Wagner, along with Disc 1 of the two-disc set.
The front insert for Arturo Toscanini Dirige Richard Wagner (Fonit Cetra, catalog number CDC 3). The Fonit Cetra logo appears in the top left corner.
The back insert for Arturo Toscanini Dirige Richard Wagner (Fonit Cetra, catalog number CDC 3). The text is printed on a silver foil coating. The Fonit Cetra logo appears in the top left corner, and there is no barcode. Note the statement “CD printed in Japan” in the bottom left corner.
Disc 1 of the two-disc set, Arturo Toscanini Dirige Richard Wagner (Fonit Cetra, catalog number CDC 3). The catalog number for this disc is shown as CDC 3 – A. As stated at 3 o’clock, the disc was pressed by Denon. The matrix code is “CDC-3-A 1A1 4Z” and is stamped in the typical Denon plant dot-matrix font. Disc 2 (catalog number CDC 3 – B) has the same pink-swirl label design.