The 45 sleeve — packaging as art


“Sleeves were designed originally to serve as a protective device for records and labels during shipment. In the case of “45” rpm records, however, a device of this nature becomes unnecessary. The raised label area on 45’s fully prevents any harmful contact between the grooved surfaces of records during shipment. Paper separators – such as this sheet – are designed to protect record labels during shipment. They have no other useful function and may be discarded at your convenience…”

Sage record care advice from the folks at RCA Victor, circa 1952.

As you can see from the small selection of 45 sleeves shown above, thankfully, the rest of the music industry — and, indeed, RCA itself — didn’t share this rather quite touching faith in the durability of the company’s new vinyl medium, and quickly turned the humble shipping protector into an art form in its own right.

RCA’s numpty claim is very redolent of those made on behalf of the CD when it was first introduced — most famously on a 1981 episode of the popular TV science show, Tomorrow’s World, wherein the presenters happily smeared a shiny biscuit with jam, then wiped it off and played it, as if proving that it was virtually indestructible! And we know how that ended…

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