Playtime Records was an off-shoot of Columbia in America, and began back in the thirties as a 78 rpm label. Releasing dozens of children’s records, the catalogue moved over to a 7″ format probably around 1950, before ceasing in 1954 by which time they had over 100 releases on catalogue. I say 7″ format but the discs were actually a bit smaller, and all their fifties releases appear to have been pressed on thin red vinyl. The discs still ran at 78 rpm, but I assume were deleted when this format went into decline. Many of the recordings were probably then sublicensed to other children’s label over the next decade.
The Playtime singles came in picture covers. The illustrations vary in quality, a lot are (like the two shown above) are quite non-descript, but there are signs of a Steinweiss influences on the typography and the label’s paper hat motif. What really struck me about these two examples I picked up recently though were the fabulous label designs. These take an element from the cover but rework it in a much sharper graphic style. So a fairly ordinary illustration of a fly becomes a much more abstract image, complete with dotted lines to indicate movement.
I think it’s likely that the covers are from older editions, just reused, but someone had to come up with new labels for the reissues and that’s when these were done.
Columbia seem to have reactivated Playtime as a 45 rpm label in the sixties, with a jukebox logo design, but that was for pop releases (and is nothing to do with the Manchester based indie label of the same name.)
I liked the label illustrations so much I reworked them as t-shirt designs for a bit of fun. These have been added to the Easy On The Eye t-shirt shop, along with other weird vinyl related designs!