About Prefixes...

A Word About Columbia Masterworks Prefixes

The ‘M’ prefix for the Columbia Masterworks series stood for Masterworks. However, different catalogue sources used a variety of different prefixes to represent what is commonly referred as the Columbia ‘M’ series.

For instance, many American catalogues used the prefix ‘CM’ to represent the Columbia Masterwork series which helped differentiated it from the Victor RCA – Musical Masterpieces series which also used the ‘M’ prefix. (The RCA series was often given the ‘VM’ prefix to differentiate it from the Columbia series).

To help identify the Columbia ‘X’ series, some record publications such as the Gramophone Shop Supplements and Encyclopedias of the 1930’s and 1940’s often labeled the ‘X’ series as ‘CX’.

Most of the Columbia Masterworks ‘M’ series was released in standard, automatic and drop manual (MM) formats- each with their own catalogue and record numbers as well asprefixes as a result.

A prefix was attached to the album to help identify its particular record sequence.

For example, Set 406 was available at one time or another in the following three formats with the following individual record numbers:

  • M-406 11204-D – 11208-D (Manual)
  • AM-406 11209-D – 11213-D (Automatic)
  • MM-406 11214-D – 11218-D (Drop Manual)

As a general rule, we've listed the manual set and its’ record numbers in this discography first followed by the AM and MM versions on separate lines thereafter, if available.

For example, the listing for Set 406 is listed in this discography as:

  • 10 Sides., Set M-406 (Also on LP ML 4052)
  • 11204-D – 11208-D
  • AM 11209-D – 11213-D
  • MM 11214-D – 11218-D

As a general rule, not all Masterwork sets were issued in the AM sequence. Some AM sets were only available via special order by the customer. These recordings were often pressed specifically for a customer at time of order.

There is also additional information on Columbia Masterwork album formats here if you wish to explore this topic further.

See the schematics page for a listing of M and X series schematics which outlines what format each set was available in.


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