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If it's at the top of the record, that's twelve o'clock; if it's at the bottom, that's six.

The three and nine o'clock positions are where you'd expect them to be, as are all the rest of the hours.

Decca used the letters of the word BUCKINGHAM to indicate the letters 1 to 10; thus a 'B' at 3 o'clock indicates a first stamper, 'K' a fourth, and so on.

Decca legends are similar but the letters are more closely spaced and always run in a straight line; the various parts of Decca legends are generally separated by hyphens.

Away from the run-off legend there is usually something which looks like either a '1', a reversed '1', or an '! There is a letter, or a pair of letters, at three o'clock; Keith Stephens has kindly informed me that, as is the case with Decca recordings, these refer to the different 'stampers' that were used to make the pressings.

They tend to consist of the matrix number of the record with a few add-ons at the end.

The matrix number is often accompanied by a 'cut number', which refers to the 'stamper' (the metal plate being used to press that side of the record).

At nine o'clock there is a single number, usually '1' but sometimes higher; Keith Stephens has been kind enough to mail in and say that this number was the 'mother' number - it referred to the metal 'mother' which was an integral part of the pressing process.

At three o'clock there is usually a letter which, Keith points out, indicates which stamper was used to do the pressing.

The basic matrix number is followed by a hyphen, then a single number, usually a '1'.

Thus we have 'SHAR 5113 B-1' for Harvest, 'YPUR 120 A-1' for Purple, and 'EMI 2397 A-1' for the EMI label.

CBS, Decca, EMI, Philips/ Polydor, Pye, and (in the second half of the decade) RCA appear to have had distinctive and easily recognisable styles, so a few notes about them may be useful.

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