While there is no shortage of interest in the album cover medium, there’s no obvious web page out dedicated to the world’s first record cover. I’m apparently I’m not the only one looking for it (See: “Anyone have a scan?“) I’ve seen scattered images from articles about Steinweiss but I’ve not found anything resembling a Shrine.
Such a noteworthy artifact in the history of mass media screams for its own page. Google returns 300+ results for the phrase “Sgt Pepper’s Album Cover” but nothing definitive for the phrase “First Album Cover.” Here’s my humble stab at such a page.
For the complete history of the album cover and its creator, just hit Wikipedia or pick up a copy of “For the Record.” Alex Steinwess, a then 23 years old designer, convinced Columbia’s suits to create the first true album cover. Until then, 78s were sold in generic sleeves.Recently, I came across an apparently original edition of this album and was able to pick it up for almost nothing. Someone unwittingly dumped it onto eBay for chump change. I mean, if they’d known what they had, I would’ve at least expected the auction to include “World’s First Album Cover!” and a reserve price of $100, $500, who knows? Instead, I picked it up for less than $30.
I have been eager to get it posted for all the graphic designers, media theorists and vinyl enthusiasts out there googling “steinweiss +first album cover.” I wanted to get these images out into the world for broader circulation.