Columbia Records are the longest running trademark in the record industry and played a hugely influential role not only in the music, but in the art of the album cover. Columbia is actually credited as being the first record label to create an illustrated album cover back in 1939 – before that records just came in plain brown sleeves with the artist name stamped on them.
Below, presented in chronological order, is a collection of record sleeve artwork from Columbia Records spanning from the early 1940s to the early 1960s.
It is interesting to see the clear transition from illustrated record covers to photography centred work. The latter leans much more heavily on simple but beautifully crafted layouts and often clever typographic treatments.