78 Collecting

Robert Campbell

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Maybe this should go in "Hedging for Armageddon," or a related thread in the Living Room.

But I think you could make a good case for parking it here.

In a conversation with some folks at Free Minds 09, I tried to make the point that, despite the "best" efforts of Obama et al., there is plenty of wealth in the world—a lot more than there was in 1929.

For example, I said, people are still paying substantial sums for old 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 12-inch LP records, even though the average person now lacks the equipment to play them on.

Lo and behold, here's a piece about 78 collecting, in the New York Times:


The article plays up what is probably the most extreme specialty within 78 collecting: blues recorded for the infamous Paramount label between 1929 and 1932.

A reason these records are so rare is that they were being made during the onset of the Great Depression. You think the music business is in trouble now? Between 1929 and 1932, total record sales in the United States dropped 94%. Paramount was a relatively low-overhead operation and its parent company was not in immediate danger of collapse, but the Wisconsin Chair Company gave up on Paramount in 1932, and the masters were dispersed before anyone thought it might be worthwhile to preserve them.

Robert Campbell

PS. I am nutty enough to own 78s, but no, I do not have any Paramounts in my collection.

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  • 7 months later...

I hadn't realized 78s were on the upswing. I have an upright Victrola in my living room, and my little boy and daughter simply love it. We listen to old wax by Tony Bennett, John Lee Hooker, Elvis, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee, Steve and Eydie, and Frank. Within an hour, Evan is worn out from cranking it before each spin, and Sarah is tired from dancing in circles. This is how I trick my kids into getting ready to go to bed each night.

Edited by Robert Jones
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