Starting in 1901, E. Berliner began to produce 10-inch discs that, in addition to having a longer playing time, were also of better quality than the smaller 7-inch discs. The earliest group of 10-inch discs in the Canadian Berliner series, manufactured by E. Berliner between 1901 and 1903, are labelled "Berliner Concert Grand". These discs are sometimes black, but more often brown or maroon, having a black label with a gold edge and gold lettering. Arcing across the top in block lettering are the words "Berliner Concert Grand". Below the semicircle formed by the label name are the words "Improved Gram-O-phone Record". Just above the spindle hole, which is protected by a brass grommet, are the words "Manufactured by", while to the left side of the hole is "E. Berliner" and on the right side "Montreal, Canada". Directly beneath the hole is the Canadian patent date ("Feb. 24, 1897") and below that the title and performer. At the bottom of the label is the Canadian issue number.1
These elements were standard for the Berliner Concert Grand record label, and yet, looking through a random group of these discs, one gets the impression of considerable variety. This is due to the diversity of typefaces used to print the titles and performers for the Concert Grand series. Like a number of the early 7-inch discs, some of the titles on Concert Grand labels are printed with scroll lettering, so called because the finial elements of round letters like c and s spiral into the aperture(s). Others have a "Western/Spanish"-looking condensed font with sharply angled serifs. Another common typeface is an Art-Nouveau-style typeface with wave-shaped serifs and dots in the centres of round letters like o. Many of the typefaces are plain and unadorned, while others are variations of more commonly found fonts described above. Among the unique typefaces is that of issue number 5140, The Sidewalks of New York, which is printed in a Gothic font. Also included in the Concert Grand series are two Kilties labels printed with plain black lettering on a tartan background.
In 1904, when E. Berliner reorganised as the Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada, the style and typefaces of Berliner's record labels became standardized, and any significant label change was uniformly adopted for all discs.2 Only slight variations were accepted; for example, the omission or inclusion of performer information (e.g. "tenor" or "duet"), or the name of the selection's composer, seem to have been optional. During this period (1904-1908), there were three distinct label types, following one another in a series. They can be divided into two phases, the first being the Concert Record, the second being the Grand Prize label.
The earliest type of Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada label is the first style Concert Record, which is generally brown with gold edging and lettering, but sometimes black with gold lettering. "Concert Record" in block letters with small angular serifs, appears arcing across the top of the label, from about 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock. Contained within the semicircle formed by the label name is a small His Master's Voice symbol (Nipper the dog with his ear to a gramophone) with the words "Trade" and "Mark" written in small caps on either side at the bottom of the semicircle. Below the centre hole (usually protected by a brass spindle grommet), the new company name, "Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada" was printed on two lines in block letters. "Patented Feb. 24, 1897" appears in much smaller type below. On the bottom portion of the disc, the title, performer and Canadian issue number are printed. Occasionally the composer is written in parentheses to the right of the title, and often performer or selection information appears above and to the right of the title. One distinctive first type Concert label in Library and Archives Canada's collection has title and performer information written in Chinese characters.
Coinciding with the introduction of the Victor Talking Machine Company's Grand Prize label in 1905, Berliner of Canada changed the Concert Record label to promote the grand prize wins at the Buffalo and St. Louis Expositions of 1901 and 1904, respectively. The style of the new label was quite different from the first type of Concert Record, which was clearly modelled after that of the Berliner Concert Grand. The Concert Record label mentioning the expositions is brown with gold lettering and a gold circle around the edge. Written in two lines arcing across the top of the label is the licence of sale: "This record is pressed from Victor Talking Machine Company's matrices. Licensed for sale and use in Canada only." Beneath this, dominating the upper half of the label, is a large HMV symbol with the caption "His Master's Voice" below. "Trade Mark" and "Patented Feb. 24, 1897" are printed above the spindle hole, centred in relation to the HMV logo. In a typeface that is an unadorned variation of the Art-Nouveau-style font found on some of the Berliner Concert Grand titles, the words "Concert" and "Record" appear on either side of the centre hole (now without a spindle grommet). On the lower half of the label, the title and performer information, the Canadian issue number (occasionally the same as the corresponding Victor recording), and the company name and location ("Berliner Gram-o-phone Co. of Canada, Ltd. Montreal") are printed in succession. Just below the word "Concert" on the left side an alternate issue number might appear in parentheses 3 and a price code number (generally "2") is usually found to the left of the title and performer area. Arcing across the bottom of the label is the promotional declaration: "Awarded first prize, Buffalo and St. Louis Expositions". This type of Concert Record label would provide the basic model for all subsequent Berliner 10-inch labels until the appearance of the batwing label in 1914.
The Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada's Grand Prize label was a revision of the Concert Record label prompted by a Victor win at the exposition at Portland in 1905. The basic style and layout of the label design were the same but with the following modifications: the word "Concert" was, appropriately enough, replaced by the word "Victor"; the typeface for the new label name was different, copying that of the corresponding American label; the words "Grand Prize" now encircled the central hole; the promotional fanfare was expanded upon by the addition of Portland in the list of cities.