The record division of the Dutch electrical firm of the same name.  Philips started issuing records in 1950, licensing product from American Columbia; it developed steadily, forming a subsidiary, Fontana, c.1957, and buying Mercury Records in 1963.   Philips Electrical linked up with Siemens (Deutsche Grammophon / Polydor) in 1962, to form the Gramophon Philips Group; 1972 saw that relationship brought closer, when GPG evolved into Polygram.  At that time the Philips-related labels were brought together under the 'Phonogram' umbrella.  Phonogram and Polydor retained separate management staff until 1981.   Philips Records flourished in the '50s and early '60s, both in the field of Classical music and - thanks to such artists as Doris Day, Marty Wilde, Frankie Laine, and Frankie Vaughan - in the field of Pop.  The Four Seasons, the Walker Brothers and Dusty Springfield kept the successes coming in throughout the '60s, but in the decade with which this site is concerned the Philips label as such lacked any consistent hit-makers, though Demis Roussos and Peters & Lee enjoyed periods of Chart success; happily, the company's Progressive offshoot, Vertigo, weighed in with Status Quo.
Philips was a little slow to change over from 78 rpm to 45 rpm records.  Their first series of 45s were intended for juke box use only, the issues being standard 78s; they were numbered in a JK-1000 series and their labels bore the appropriate marking (1).  As far as the main popular series is concerned, catalogue numbers seems to have started at PB-100, in the 78 rpm era.  They appeared on the right-hand side of the label; there was an equally large six-figure number, with a 'BF' suffix, on the left-hand side.  The PB-100s had risen into the PB-1200s by the Spring of 1962, at which point they were dropped, the six-figure numbers being used instead.  The main series was 326500-BF, but there were others such as 304000-BF and 324900-BF, which presumably contained material from different sources.  This scheme of things lasted for roughly a year; around May 1963 the old numbering was re-adopted, starting in the 1200s where it left off, but the 'BF' was retained, this time as a prefix.  This time around the numbers were on the left-hand side - the six-figure numbers remained, but were in much smaller print.  In 1970 Philips abandoned its prefix / number system and started issuing singles with seven-digit catalogue numbers, the first number of the seven being '6'; the other Phonogram labels also did this.  Most Philips singles were numbered in the 6006-000s, but lots of other blocks were used.   These appear to have denoted the origin of the records concerned: for example 6003s were German, 6009s French, and 6012s Dutch.
Philips's main series of singles always had blue labels.  Initially the company name was in comparatively small print, and a process called 'Minigroove' was given prominence (2); from January / February 1962 the 'Minigroove' disappeared and the name grew slightly (3).  The name grew again in June 1964, and a grid of lines appeared on the label (4); this design remained essentially unchanged into the early '70s.  The kind of dinking which results in three prongs (as shown in many of the above) appears to have been peculiar to the Polydor and Philips companies, as were the rather graceful triangular 'spiders' which were supplied with factory-dinked singles (5) - it was common in the early '70s for singles in the Polydor and Philips family labels to be dinked before they left the factory.  The first injection-moulded labels appeared in 1971, and had the same trio of dinking perforations that the old paper label had had; at this stage singles could be found in either paper-labelled or injection moulded form.  At first the 'prohibitions' around the label's edge were inside the outer ring (6) but they soon migrated outside it (7).  In 1973 injection moulded singles became the norm.  Most came with solid centres (8) but some had large spindle holes and three-pronged 'spiders'; injection moulded singles with 'BF' prefixes are reissues from the mid '70s (9).  Usually injection-moulded singles were coloured blue, but occasionally silver (10) or beige (11) paint was used; thanks to Robert Bowes for the scan of the beige one.  Football records led to a couple of other colours being used: a red label graced a tribute single to Manchester United F. C. (12), while a West Ham song was coloured what I suppose was intended to be metallic 'claret' (13).  Paper labels appeared every now and again as a result of contract pressings done by other firms; the example shown (14) was manufactured by Pye.
The late '50s and the very early '60s saw a 'Musical Gems' series of Classical singles, which had sea-green labels and their own SBF-100 numbers (15).  Jazz music briefly had its own red-labelled 'Junior Jazz Series' of singles, numbered in the JAZ-100s (16).  The main series of EPs in the '50s (17) and early '60s had black labels and numbers in the BBE-12000s.  There were two series of Classical EPs, one of which had green labels NBE-11000 numbers (19), the other purple labels and numbers in the ABE-10000s (20).  The popular EPs underwent the same kind of number-change in 1962-63 as the singles did, being numbered in the 433600-BFs for that period; they then reverted to the old 12000 numbers but had a 'BE' prefix instead of the old 'BBE' one (18).  The advent of stereo saw two more sets of numbers, SBBE-9000 for Popular EPs and SABE-2000 for Classical ones; the labels were marked 'Hi-Fi-Stereo' (21).
Records intended for demonstration purposes had white labels initially, which could be plain (22) or have the details handwritten or printed on them (23), but 'Sample Record' stickers were also used from early on, being applied to stock copies (24, 25).  The white label demos disappeared in late 1960, leaving only the stickered kind; these gained an 'A' sticker early in 1962 (26).  From around the middle of 1965 into the following year the stickers seem to have been replaced with a rough yellow handstamp reading 'Sample not for sale' - the example shown (27) hasn't been stamped very well.  1969 saw the reintroduction of dedicated promo labels: they were white with a large hollow red 'A' (28, 29).  Philips singles from the early '70s had a purple sleeve (34); those from the mid and late '70s shared a corporate Phonogram sleeve with the company's other labels (36).  A short-lived 'Take 3' series of three-track EPs appeared in 1971 and had its own particular sleeve (35).  I have cobbled together a Philips discography covering the 1970s; it is far from full, but it may be of interest.  It takes a while to appear, on old computers like mine, so for the sake of swiftness I have put it on a separate page, here.

Copyright 2008 Robert Lyons.