Collectible Vinyl Records

December 6, 2015 by  
Filed under Collectibles, New

Collectible Vinyl Records

To begin an article on collecting anything you need to take a good look at where it came from …it’s roots. In the case of collectible vinyl records it’s a little difficult because while it’s definitely an activity that’s going strong it’s also one that never experienced a full disappearance. It’s just been flying under the radar for several years.

People have been collecting records since the day they were first pressed. The most dedicated of collectors never really stopped. Their collections have been stored away, quietly growing just waiting for a resurgence in interest and popularity. That time is now here. Ironically the sanitization of current recordings has been the catalyst. It’s created a yearning for the warmth of a vinyl recording.

So what type of records are we are discussing?

Records, or the more accurate ‘recordings’, could be any type of specific sound effect like footsteps.  They could also be historical speeches. They were popular for documenting historical events and general reference.

Recordings were also made from ambient noise. These were a specific niche of a sound effect. An example would be something like waves of water lapping at a beach. But for this article we’ll focus on the musical type of recordings we’re all familiar with.

I began collecting records in the early 70s. There was nothing available at the time except for vinyl records and 8-track tapes. I was in my early teens and a visit to the record store was a weekly ritual. This was something that was always shared with close friends. The highlight of our week would be an outing to the famous Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto.

There were several other hole-in-the-wall stores on the strip but Sam’s was definitely the place to be on a Saturday. While you were there could flip through troughs of vinyl record albums. As well as the private and semi-private listening stations you could also hear the latest music playing within the store.

Great visuals were available as well. Not only was there amazing album cover art but the store was full of music related posters and promotional art. And then of course there was the people watching.

We’re a long way past those original pressed vinyl record days. We’ve had 8 track tapes and cassette tapes, which were really more of a physical format change for convenience sake – just think back to the WALKMAN. Any differences in quality was probably not noticeable at least until the tape began to stretch.

“To pursue your passion of collectible vinyl records you’ll need plenty of space”.

The compact disc, commonly referred to as the CD, soon arrived on the scene with it’s scrubbed digital sound. It was smaller, shinier and delivered the purity of the music without the common hiss and pop of a vinyl album. Suddenly we were launched into the future of music listening. It added a bit of tech coolness to music enjoyment.

Music recorded on compact disc also became more portable than ever making discs highly visual as well. Vehicles outfitted with a CD player were somewhat a mark of status. Some people even took to hanging a CD from the rear view mirror.

The message being you were hip and tech savvy.

And who didn’t want to be considered a tech savvy hipster? Suddenly listening to vinyl meant staying home. Not so hip. Vinyl had somehow become old.

There were those folks that loved the sanitized purity of digital sound. But some of those people also embraced the CD as they would embrace the arrival of any new technology. So while the CD was an instant hit with an instant fan base it was a mixed fan base.

Differences between CDs and records went way beyond the technology. The biggest difference was in the social experience surrounding each. Buying and listening to records allowed you to interact with your social circle. A big part of the experience included inviting friends over after school to listen to your latest purchase.

CDs became the staple to a rushed lifestyle. They were satisfactory from a technical point of view so not much reason to stop listening to them. They filled a need just as fast-food is to our diet.

Listening to CDs usually supplemented another activity. You see people everyday at the gym thumbing through their electronic devices. They search a playlist in order to half-listen to a track while running on a treadmill or cranking out another set.

“By comparison going to the record store went way beyond the supplemental listening experience. It actually was part of the experience.”

A few years had passed and I moved out to Oakland California to attend art college. At the time I had a huge crush on graphics and bold hip art. Album cover art fit the bill nicely on several levels. I could spend hours flipping through the racks of albums at my local Sunrise Records in Oakland or San Fran. Taking in the amazing cover art and people watching. This time California – style.

There’s a few considerations regarding collectible vinyl records.

Regardless of what you collect you’ll require space. Physical space designated for your record album collection is no different. Collectors are known for amassing records collections that can number in the hundreds or even thousands.

For any sizeable collection you will need lots of it. That space will also have to be suitable for keeping your collection of vinyl dry, cool and dust-free.

In order to eliminate uneven pressure points records need to be stored standing up, not laying flat. Back then we simply stood our albums within milk crates. They were cheap and always seemed to be available to college students. Probably every student’s first experience with up-cycling. They were the perfect dimension as well as being stackable while offering great support.

Permanent distortion can happen with the slightest amount of pressure or direct sunlight. Which means keeping your collection away from all heat sources. As an aside, I lost my prized T-REX (The Slider) vinyl when, at one of my impromptu gatherings, someone placed it on the floor slightly overlapping a heat register. I guess the furnace kicked in soon after. It didn’t stand a chance. By the time I found it there was a permanent wave in the vinyl.

So where do you find collectible vinyl records?

You may be able to source sellers and retailers that are now adding them to their inventory. They’re still not yet commonplace. I’ve seen sellers set up shop at flea markets and record fairs. Here in Canada I’ve also heard of one seller that travels in an old bus full of vinyl records.

And of course buying online is still always an option. Keep in mind that vinyl can also be re-issued. Finding a great album doesn’t automatically mean it’s original.

Collectible vinyl records are enjoyed mostly by music enthusiasts. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by everyone. You may not see a huge return on your investment, not monetary anyways. What you will be able to experience is a way of life that is almost totally gone nowadays.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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