The Original Albums
Much speculation has ensued over the past couple of decades or so as to exactly how many original Dark Round The Edges LPs were produced.
There have been many estimates ranging from 50 to 99. Exactly how these estimates, many of them portrayed as accurate, were arrived at I have no idea. Probably a lot were the result of a kind of 'Chinese Whispers' with assumptions being made that so few had been produced in order to avoid a tax bill.
Not so. I had no idea tax may have been a problem so that didn't figure at all.
The reason was much simpler than that. I only had 30 pressings made initially because that was all I could afford.
At the time I was only 19 and less than a year out of school.
I financed the whole project myself and, with cost a major consideration, initially there were only 30 produced, + 2 test pressings, which also had the Black on Red label.
It soon became apparent, having doled them out to family & friends, that we would need some more so this time, with the help of some up-front order money, I was able to repeat the first order and have another 30 produced, again with 2 test pressings as before.
That was it. There have only ever been 64 DRTE Originals!
Invoice for first run of 30 pressings
Invoice for second run of 30 pressings
The reason the first invioce says 'Order change' is because intially I only ordered 20 but upped it having found out how many people were interested in having a copy.
Further speculation over the years has been as to how many of each cover there were.
I produced them as three variants ;
Black and White Gatefold
Black and White Single Sleeve.
They were all produced singly by my own hand, using actual photographs that I had printed myself being glued onto the white sleeves.
The gatefolds were not actually gatefolds in the true sense of the term.
They were made by gluing a flap of card to the inside of the back of the sleeve opening so that it folded over the sleeve covering the opening.
Onto the inside of that was the B&W 'Montage' shots and when folded over it showed 'The Girl On The Settee'.
The flap folded onto the Track Listing 'Car Shot' (which on a single LP sleeve would have been the front) and so on the other side of the sleeve was the building site 'Group Shot'.
So - on opening the album 'like a book', it becomes plain that the Front of the album sleeve was the band and NOT the 'Girl In The Window'.
All re-issues done since that feature those photos (including the first Swank Reissue in 1990. They asked for the change) have the girl on the front, as that picture had become synonymous with the LP and was assumed to be the front by all who had not seen an original.
On all the original single sleeve versions it is clear that the group shot is the front of the album.
There were only ever 12 colour gatefold sleeves. The reason for that mainly is, once again, cost.
Although I was printing the photos myself, the paper was very expensive.
It was my first foray into colour printing and before I had a colour printing macine and processer.
The prints were made by a very unusual process at the time by exposing the paper with a transparency, rather than a negative.
I had decided I was only going to make at least 10 colour gatefolds and had bought three packets of 10 sheets of paper.
How many acceptable prints I managed to produce would determine how many colour sleeves there would be.
Obviously I needed 2 for each album and I successfully printed 12 from each transparency.
To expose the paper it was held in place with a printing mask. This apparatus is what gives photos their familiar white borders.
Of course, printing from a transparency would give a negative image but this is resolved by briefly exposing the paper to White Light for a determined amount of time.
This reverses the negative image to a positive one and so the white borders, which hadn't been exposed to light, process as black with this special printing technique.
'Dark Round The Edges'
The processing is done on a one at a time basis using One-Shot chemicals which are poured into a light tight drum into which the exposed paper has been inserted.
It is a very time consuming and mentally draining process as the slightest discrepancy ruins the result.
Consequently it took me the best part of a week from start to finish just to print the colour photos.
The Black and White ones were much faster, easier and cheaper.
That's the reason there were only 12 original coulour gatefolds.
Well . . . . . to be totally correct, there were 14.
12 were produced for 'public consumption' but I made myself a couple using better quality professionally produced colour photos (which is why they don't have the black borders) - as shown below.
One of my personal original which I sold to an Italian collector in the mid '90s
So - there have definitely ONLY EVER BEEN 64 original DRTEs and only 12/14 of them have been Colour Gatefolds.
For the first run the remainder were single sleeve Black & White sleeves - with the exception of one of the test pressings that I gave to my girlfriend at the time before I had produced any of the sleeves. She had that in a plain white sleeve that both she and I 'Doodled' on.
Another of my personal copies that I sold in the '90s. These didn't have the photos I printed myself - hence no black borders.
The doodled on Sleeve that contained one of the original DRTE Test Pressings from the first run
From that first run I had one of the 12 colour sleeves. I made the 'special 'one-offs' from the 2nd run so that means from the first run there were 18 single sleeve B&W sleeves.
Now - the only thing I am NOT 100% sure of (but almost) is how many B& W Gatefolds there were.
I am 99% certain I made the same number as the coloured ones. For a long time I kept a book of who had what variant but for the life of me, can I find it?
I would never have thrown it out deliberately so it has probably been put somewhere when I last moved house and got mixed up with other things - but that is why I am almost certain there were 12 B&Ws as I have a mental picture of the lists.
Anyway - it was either 10 or 12 but definitely no more and they were B&W to keep the costs down.
So the tally is:
12 Colour Gatefolds
2 'Special' Colour Gatefolds
1 White Doodle On Sleeve
12 B& W Gatefolds and
37 B&W Single Sleeves
Every single album (apart from the 'doodled sleeve version') came complete with the Lyric Booklet, which again I made myself using photos printed on Feather-Weight photo paper. I had initially printed the photos and then hand written the lyrics, copied the result and then reprinted.
The fact that they are actual photos is the reason that there is nothing on the reverse side.
I completed the Booklets by stapling together with 3 staples onto the white strips I had left on the left side - and the right side for the back cover.
All the booklets were identical but the ones included with the single sleeves had the 'Montage' and 'Car-Track Listing' shots included.
Rear Cover of Lyric Booklet
Front Cover of Lyric Booklet