Recording Pioneers

Percival James PACKMAN  ("Percy")1875 - 1941   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Percival James PACKMAN  ("Percy")1875 - 1941

aka Percival J. Packman, P. J. Packman, Percival Packman, Percy James Packman, Percy J. Packman, Percy Packman, P. Packman
occupation piccolo player/electrician
birth .. Apr/May/June, 1875, Rainham, Milton, Kent
death 13 Jan 1941, at 67 Hartwoods Road, Hammersmith, London (last telephone book listing in 1939 Probate)
marriage Packman (recording expert) got married on 15 Dec 1906, Christ Church, Highbury Grove, Islington, Greater London, Middlesex
Edith Helen SHENTON (not: STENTON)

b. .. July/Aug/Sep 1880, ...., St Giles, London
d. .. Jan/Feb/Mar 1952, Islington, Greater London

  • Percival Gilbert

    b. 25 Oct 1908, Islington/Highbury, London
    d. .. Apr/May/June, 1994, Hendon, Middlesex, ENGLAND

  • Arthur James

    b. 27 Jan 1911, Highbury, London
    d. .. Aug 1987, Surrey Mid-eastern, Surrey, ENGLAND


father James PACKMAN

b. .. Oct/Nov/Dec 1846, Faversham, Kent? .. Jan/Feb/Mar 1848, Frindsbury, Faversham, Kent?
d. .. Apr/May/June 1921, Milton, Kent (73y)? .. July/Aug/Sep 1926, Faversham, Kent (79y)?

mother Matilda VULGAR

b. .. July/Aug/Sep 1846, ....., North Aylesford, Kent
d. .. Jan/Feb/Mar 1926, Milton, Kent

marriage .. Jan/Feb/Mar 1870, ....., North Aylesford, Kent
  • James William

    b. .... 1872
    d. ..............

  • John

    b. .... 1874, .........
    d. .... <1912>, ..........

  • Percival James

    b. .. Apr/May/June, 1875, Rainham, Milton, Kent
    d. .. Jan/Feb/Mar 1941, Hammersmith, London (last phone book listing in 1939

  • Alice Lucy

    b. .... 1879
    d. ................

  • Walter

    b. .... 1880
    d. ..............

  • Bessie M.

    b. .... 1888, Preston, Kent
    d. ...............


1881 CENSUS (n.d., Barham, Kent......., London):
James PACKMAN (33y; b., Faversham, Kent) Police constable K.C.C. (Kent County Constabulary ?)
Matilda PACKMAN (34y; b. Faversham, Kent - d. ................)
- James William (9y; b. Hoo)
- John (7y; b. Rainham)
- Percival James (6y ; b. Rainham)
- Alice Lucy (2y; b. Rainham)
- Walter (1y; b. Barham)

1901 CENSUS (n.d., Hammersmith, London):
John PACKMAN (27y; b. Rainham, Kent) electrician elect. app. (= apparatus/appliances)
Agnes PACKMAN (28y; Mellis, Suffolk)
- Reginald (1y; London)
- Percival (6m; London)
= Percival J. PACKMAN (25y; brother) electrician elect. app. (= apparatus/appliances)

1911 CENSUS (Islington, Highbury, 66 Hamilton Road N., London):
Percival James PACKMAN (35y; b. <1876>, Rainham, Kent) Talking Machine Record Recorder
Edith PACKMAN (30y ; b. <1881>, London W.C.)
- Percival Gilbert (2y; Highbury, London)
- Arthur James (2m; Highbury, London)

Home address in 1906: St Mary's Road, Canonbury.

“.. we now have the famous Musogram records made by that skilful expert Mr P. J. Packman. Indeed it was to see this gentleman that we paid our visit and we found him upstairs in the recording room, busily making arrangements for the arrival of one of the artists who was to make a few records.”
"In fact all three of the productions are excellent and reflect the greatest credit not only upon the singer but upon Mr Packman, who we may here mention was the very first to introduce the close-cut phono disc which enables a record to be made which will play for over six minutes, long enough to embrace the entire song without cutting.”
(from: ‘A fair record-maker: Grace Ivell’ (in Talking Machine News vol. 2 no. 17, April 1910, page 162)

Musogram record in Don Taylor’s The English 78 picture book (Hobart, Tasmania : Don Taylor, no date), p. 150:
“Mr Percy J. Packman was responsible for this unusual type of record. Technically it could be seen as a transitional stage between Neophone and Marathon, both of which he was involved with at different times. First appearing in 1909, the disc was vertical-cut .... Musograms seem to have vanished towards the end of 1910.”

"Musogram Limited has been established on the 5th June 1907 by Percy Packman, A. W. Cameron and others who had been associated with Neophone Limited."
(from: Nicole book by Michael Kinnear, p. 27)

Percival James PACKMAN (48y) musical recorder
Dep.: ......., Durban, SOUTH AFRICA
Mossel Bay-Algoa Bay [Port Elisabeth]-Cape Town-Madeira-East London
Packman embarked at Capetown.
Arr.: 31 Mar 1924, Southampton, ENGLAND

In British Phone Books:
1929-1930: 66 Hamilton Road, N.5, Canonbury, London
1932-1935: 69 Dunstan Road, N.W.11, London
1937-1939: 66 Hamilton Road, N.5, Canonbury, London

Director/recording expert of The Neophone Co. Ltd.
(see Kinnear's Indian Recordings, p. 40-41)

Pp. 49-51 of Manual of Analogue Sound Restoration Techniques by Peter Copeland (The British Library Sound Archive, 2008) online

In 1911 a British inventor, P. J. Packman, patented a new type of cutting stylus in which a cylindrical sapphire had its axis perpendicular to the wax, rather than substantially parallel to it. (Ref. 2). His aim was to cut deeper grooves. He wanted to pack more sound into a given space, and reasoned that if one used hill-and-dale recording, one would not have to leave space between the grooves for lateral modulation. By combining hill-and-dale recording with a finer groove-pitch and the technique of an abrasive record to grind a steel needle, he hoped to make inexpensive long-playing disc records; a couple of hundred were actually published under the tradename “Marathon.” They were not a success; however, the principle of Packman’s cutter was gradually adopted by the rest of the sound recording industry.
(source: website Hifi Museum - Technik, Wissen und Historie: Sound Restoration, Teil 4)

MARATHON (long-playing record 1912-1915) see internet

last residence: 66 Hamilton Park, Highbury, London


  • The Experiences of a Recording Director by P. J. Packman (in: The Talking Machine News of Sept 1905; reproduced in Hillandale News No. 61 of June 1971 (pp. 7-10)
  • The Coming and Demise of the Marathon Records and Machines by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 72 (April 1987), pp. 2081-2105 + p. 2070 + p. 2119)
  • Neophone; Neophone Disc Phonograph Records, Their Founding & History by Frank Andrews (in: The Talking Machine Review No. 51 (April 1978), pp. 1304-1313)
  • The Gramophone Company's First Indian Recordings. 1899-1908 by Michael Kinnear, p. 40-41
  • British Phone Books, London 1929-1939
  • MARATHON (long-playing record 1912-1915) see internet
  • We have our own Records, Part 31; MUSIC MASTER to MUSOLA by Frank Andrews (in: For the Record, No. 24 Winter 2007 - 2008, p. 456-458)
  • From Orchestrelle to Vocalion, Part 2: Recording Sessions in London by Frank Andrews (in: Hillandale News No. 117, November 1980 (p. 120))
  • From Orchestrelle to Vocalion, Part 3: The Final Years of Aeolian Vocalion, 1922-1924 by Frank Andrews (in: Hillandale News No. 118, February 1981 (p. 152))
  • Edison Phonograph. The British Connection by Frank Andrews (The City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society, 1986), pp. 76-77, FN (= footnote) 53
  • England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941
  • Manual of Analogue Sound Restoration Techniques by Peter Copeland (The British Library Sound Archive, 2008) online


Percy Packman (standing) with father James Packman and oldest son, Percival Gilbert (ca 1915)
Percy Packman with wife Edith and sons Percival Gilbert (standing) and Arthur James (sitting) (ca 1913)


Paul Cleary
Francesca Ashman
Alexis Ashman