Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn, gets in a spin about old vinyl records...
Here comes the summer. As we hurtle towards school holidays, for some it’s the season of festivals. Music plays a such a huge part in so many people’s lives and for some our team here, all their talk is about Kendal Calling, which takes place at the end of the month.
But there is one way you can enjoy music without having to slosh through fields in your wellies. From the comfort of your own home, collecting old vinyl is a pastime anyone can ardently enjoy!
Although Thomas Edison, the inventor of the gramophone, had produced a form of LP in 1926, it was the American company, Columbia which developed a commercially marketable version which lasted for 23 minutes each side!
The first records, made from Shellac, were called 78s, as they revolved on the gramophone’s turn table at 78 rpm (revolutions per minute). They were heavier and thicker than their later counterparts and were single sided.
The development of plastic technology during World War II ousted shellac and allowed manufacturers to make record grooves closer together. The 78 and the LP (a long playing record that turned at 33rpm) continued in popularity for just over a decade, but it was during the 1960s that the music industry that we know today really took off. The early 60s produced bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones whose catchy songs lasted under three minutes.
These tunes were pressed onto small black plastic discs called 45s. Most records you come across have a glossy sleeve with the albums artwork or a picture of the band, but that wasn’t always the case. Before the days of big record companies, records were sent to shops, boxed loose.
The retailers then produced their own covers to stop them getting scratched.
Some collectors like a particular record label like Coliseum, Zonaphone, or Parlaphone, whilst others search for specific artists – famous singers like Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra are more valuable.
The arrival of CDs, MP3s and downloads has meant that old vinyl records have become collectables. Value depends on condition, whether its scratched or warped and if can you still play and enjoy it.
Of course, records made from the first press, i.e. the original versions, are the most valuable.