With the CD format being targeted to audiophiles at launch, it is no surprise that many of the early releases were classical titles. Philips, both a co-developer of the format and the namesake of a major classical label, released classical CDs right out of the gate. These discs were pressed in West Germany at the PolyGram plant opened by Philips in Hanover, West Germany beginning in 1982. Like many early West German discs, the original Philips classical titles have a distinctive label design that is popular with collectors.

The original Philips classical discs are denoted by a light-blue coating with dark blue (or in rare instances, black) text. Titles with the light-blue design were released under catalog numbers of the form 400 XXX-2 or 410 XXX-2. Typical of early PolyGram pressings, the Philips discs have aluminum to the center hole instead of a clear plastic ring. Accompanying inserts are decidedly plain — back inserts have simple black text on a white background.

As an example, we consider Italian composer’s Antonio Vivaldi’s Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), performed by Italian chamber orchestra I Musici, with violinist Pina Carmirelli. This title was released under catalog number 410 001-2. The “001” identifies this as one of the earliest Philips’ releases. The matrix code on the light-blue disc is “410001 2 01”, which represents the original PolyGram plant format (pressings from the mid-’80s would have a matrix code of the form “410 001-2 XX”). Also indicative of an early PolyGram pressing, the “dead space” at the outer edge of the play side (i.e., the portion with no encoded data) has a mirror appearance.

Shown below is the cover and back insert for Vivaldi’s Le Quattro Stagioni, along with the light-blue Philips CD.

 

The cover for the original West German pressing of Antonio Vivaldi (I Musici; Pina Carmirelli, Violin) Le Quattro Stagioni (Philips, catalog number 410 001-2). Note the “digital recording” notation in the top left corner.

 

The back insert for the original West German pressing of Antonio Vivaldi (I Musici; Pina Carmirelli, Violin) Le Quattro Stagioni (West Germany, Philips, catalog number 410 001-2). The catalog number is printed in the top right corner below the barcode. “Made in West Germany” is printed along the bottom.

 

The original West German pressing of Antonio Vivaldi (I Musici; Pina Carmirelli, Violin) Le Quattro Stagioni (West Germany, Philips, catalog number 410 001-2). Note “MADE IN W-GERMANY” printed at the top left.

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