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Their three main (others in Terre Haute IN, Pitman NJ) pressing plants were based in Chicago, Nashville and New York, and are identifiable by the stamped in prefix to the number in the deadwax: The job numbers which follow the ZTSC, ZTSP, ZTSB codes were allotted out of the offices in the Fisher Building in Detroit, and were often allocated in batches.
Columbia Special Products Detroit office was first located in the Fisher Building during the mid '60's.
The last set of numbers does not refer to the day, but signifies the number of jobs completed to that point, in this case 112 mastering pressings were done in April of 1966, at that point in time. "QCA 305322" reads as 1973 and the next two digits 05 signify the month of May.
mark is raised rather than etched into the styrene pressings they used, and often the actual record labels seem to come adrift from the discs due to poor quality adhesives used..improved post-67.
Finally, during 1966, their Chicago studios were apparently so busy that their last set of numbers put the number (3/4/5) in the first position and the year in the second (4TKM! And as to the period up to 1962, the second position was 7, 8 or 9 (indications same as 3, 4 or 5, respectively, post-1963), 'O' was their code for "Phonograph," and 'W' denoted a 7", 45 RPM release. It's possible to date their work to the month and year of release via the "Delta number" - see the grid below.
, which consists of a scratched in triangle shape followed by a 5 digit number.
Chicago, Nashville, New York and Hollywood were only venues of recording studios operated at one time or another by Columbia - in terms of their pressing, besides Pitman (opened 1960, ceased pressing vinyl records in 1986) and Terre Haute (opened 1953, closed 1982 then converted to CD manufacture) they had another plant in Santa Maria, California (opened 1963-64, closed 1981).An awful lot of their presses utilised styrene rather than vinyl, which continued on into the 1970's - note there were plenty of Northern Soul second issues manufactured by Monarch, which tend to have numbers starting with 8, 9 or 10, instead of earlier original release, if indeed they were 60's recordings.Please note the Monarch numbers stated below are guidelines and based on mid-month releases, so numbers either side may fall between months. prefix, the Precision Record Press out of Nashville also used Nashville Matrix for plating purposes.This will be an on-going project, so all additional information is welcome.First up, here's a quick "rule of thumb" disc-dating grid covering five major labels and the infamous West Coast based Monarch pressing plant.