The Hip-Pocket Record was introduced by Philco, the electronics division of the Ford Motor Company in the US in 1967.
41 Hip-Pocket Records were issued from 1967 to 1968, the first two being Tommy James & The Shondells releases licensed from Roulette.
Sold for 68 cents and available through FW Woolworth or direct from Ford dealerships, Hip-Pocket discs were slightly smaller in size than an LP label: 12 cm in diameter and manufactured on paper-thin black plastic.
With just one song on each side, they could only be used on a single-play record player such as a Dansette Junior – basically, any system that didn’t automatically return the tonearm at the end.
Several companies manufactured a tiny battery-powered deck especially for playing the discs.
A label on one side would bear all the info – the artist, song titles and label credits – while the flipside had no label at all.
The discs came in 20cm x 15cm sleeves that showed a photograph of the artist, reinforced by a stiffer piece of card.
Some would list enticing purchase incentives on the rear: “they will outlast a regular 45” . . . “25 to 50 hip pocket records can be carried in pocket or purse” . . . “drop them or sit on them . . . they are almost indestructible.”
The song pairings on Hip-Pocket Records usually bore little relationship to singles already issued by the artists – although the Neil Diamond releases (licensed from Bang) duplicated previous A and B side combinations.
Most Hip-Pocket pairings simply threw together two previous hits, licensing the songs from the bigger indie labels such as Atlantic, Mercury and Vanguard.
For a short period, Philco faced competition from Americom Corporation, who produced Pocket Discs that undercut their rivals, selling at 50 cents.
Though their plain sleeves lacked the visual appeal of Philco’s Hip-Pocket releases, Americom could boast The Beatles as additions to their roster.
Philco responded to the threat by dropping their retail price to 39 cents and offering customers a random selection of five Hip-Pocket releases when purchasing one of their miniature radio phonographs.
The discs have not accrued any great monetary value over the years. The most valuable, The Box Tops The Letter/Happy Times, will still only fetch $20 (£12), while it would be unusual to pay more than $10 (£5) for any other Near Mint pressings.