New York City's ARChive of Contemporary Music
(ARC) is a cultural treasure packed with actual treasures. Inside the walls of this not-for-profit private research library in TriBeCa are 3 million physical audio recordings, many on vinyl records. The ARC's founder, Bob George, is also a cultural treasure -- warm, obsessive, kind, committed, and a walking encyclopedia of popular music -- from obscure folk to the avant-garde. In recent years, Bob's been working closely with the Internet Archive to digitize many of the ARC's scarce 78s for broader access and, yes, preservation. Bob launched ARC in 1985 when his own record collection outgrew his apartment. Now the ARC needs help. They've launched a GoFundMe
to raise $100,000 to keep the ARC alive. From Rolling Stone
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Far from the kind of crackpot hoarding that sometimes happens in cities, George’s archive has been supported by powerhouses in music and entertainment. It houses Keith Richards’ blues collection. Their current board is varied enough to include both Youssou N’Dour and Paul Simon (Lou Reed and David Bowie were both once members). It consulted for Tom Hanks on the making of That Thing You Do. It’s the go-to repository for album art for everything from Grammy exhibits to Taschen books...
George’s commitment is dogged. When Martin Scorsese wanted an obscure Italian song in Goodfellas, George roamed Little Italy humming the tune until someone recognized it (“You can solve every problem in New York if you just walk through it,” he says).
At a time when some in the city were scrubbing Keith Haring murals off subway platforms, George was welcoming every genre, including then-unpopular punk and hip-hop (among the archive’s greatest collection is a trove of punk 45s).
In the 1960s, when Scientific American copy editor Michael J. Battaglia was 15, he had a chemical romance with the periodic table. In fact, Battaglia was so fascinated by the basic substances of our universe that he tried to collect 'em all (at least the 104 elements that science knew about at the time.) From Scientific American:
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Steven Heller calls himself a "letterhead" -- that is, someone who collects letterhead (compare with "Deadhead"); his brief reflections on his passion for Design Observer and interesting and well-observed, but they're not a patch on the actual samples of beautiful, bygone letterhead from his collection.
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Launched as a NYC skateshop in 1994, streetwear brand Supreme has become a religion for hypbeasts (and the flippers who serve them). Now, a private collector is auctioning off their collection of every single Supreme skate deck ever made, many of which are emblazoned with graphics from esteemed contemporary artists. The lot of 248 skateboard decks along with the Louis Vuitton Boite skateboard trunk with tool kit, trucks, wheels and shoulder strap is expected to bring around $1 million but I bet it goes for much more. From Sotheby's:
Supreme started producing their own skateboards in 1998 and have collaborated with many well-known brands over the last 20 years - most famously with Louis Vuitton. Supreme is also known for their artist collaborations, featuring the likes of George Condo, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, KAWS, Marilyn Minter, Nate Lowman, and Takashi Murakami, among others.
"Own the Entire Supreme Skateboard Collection, Now Open for Bidding" (Sotheby's, thanks Lux Sparks-Pescovitz!)
Decks by Marilyn Minter and Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton Boite skateboard trunk with accessories:
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In the 18th and 19th centuries, mudlarks were people who sifted through the mud on the banks of the River Thames to find things of value. Ted Sandling keeps the dream alive. He compiled his curious collection in a book, London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures, and you can also follow his finds on Instagram. If you're inspired to dig yourself, new laws require mudlarkers (and metal detector users) to apply for a permit first and then report any treasures you uncover to the authorities.
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A couple of days ago I found this spoon, standing straight up in the gravel like a very small and shapely monolith. There was a symbolic significance to its position, as if it had been placed with deliberate purpose, probably to do with britishness, and tea. I picked it up (how could one not?) and brought it home for someone who is six and a half years old and likes spoons. The reverse tells all manner of stories to those who can decode the hallmarks (I can’t, but I know a google who can). It’s silver plate, made by James Deakin & Sons in the late nineteenth century and has what sophisticates know as ‘rather a lot of dings’ in the bowl. Also, for some ceremonial reason, most of the silver has come unplated. It’s their Sidney Silver brand, so called because it was made at the Sidney Works on Sidney Street, quite possibly by a man named Sidney.
Author Haruki Murakami is donating a large collection of his personal materials -- original manuscripts, letters, foreign language editions of his books, and 10,000 vinyl records -- to his alma mater Waseda University. From the Japan Times:
The donation “is a very important thing for me, so I thought I should explain clearly” by holding a news conference, said Murakami, 69. “I don’t have any children, and it would cause trouble for me if those materials became scattered or lost..."
Using the donated materials, the university in Tokyo is considering setting up an international study center featuring the author’s works. It also plans to create a space that will resemble a study room with bookshelves and music records...
In the envisioned facility to house his documents, Murakami said if possible he wants to organize a concert using his collection of vinyl records, which total more than 10,000 copies.
Murakami, who opened a cafe for jazz enthusiasts in Tokyo while still a student at Waseda University, has said music is an essential component of his career in literature.
Previously: "A Murakami playlist"
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Jenn D'Eugenio is a badass record collector, indie label maven, and vinyl industry veteran who now works at the esteemed Furnace Record Pressing company in Virginia. Recently, Jenn started interviewing her peers in the record scene "to empower and highlight the women that are working in the vinyl / music industry to create, preserve, improve and enhance the art of music on vinyl."
Check out Women In Vinyl for interviews with the likes of Katy Clove of Merge Records, Italians Do It Better label president Megan Louise Doyle, audio archivist Amanda McCabe, and designer Kate Koeppel who makes fantastic products for vinyl collectors.
"Not enough of the female + vinyl focus is on the women behind the record stores, labels, manufacturers, vinyl accessories, etc. and I hope to change that with interviews and stories about these women," Jenn says.
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Be kind, rewind. On Sunday, Houston, Texas's Insomnia Gallery hosted the VHS Swap Meet where 21 sellers gathered to hawk VHS tapes. Jason Champion, 37, who operates a VHS video store out of his garage, organized the swap. From The Chron:
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“For me, it’s pure nostalgia,” (attendee Tayvis) Dunnahoe said. “When I watch a tape, it’s not always about just (watching) the best-quality version of the film. A lot of times it’s just kind of going back to that root of how I saw it the first time I watched it.”
Dunnahoe, who’s known among VHS collectors as Benny Junko, is all about “keeping physical media alive.” He and his wife, Nancy Agin Dunnahoe, operate the online shop Video Sanctum, which specializes in horror.
In fact, just about every vendor Sunday had at least a small collection of horror films, from the rare to the classic to the campy.
“We’re horror fanatics,” said Debra Santos, 32. She and her husband, Nasario Santos Jr., bought a bag full of videos Sunday, from 1979’s “Nosferatu the Vampyre” to “Cujo,” based on the Stephen King novel.
“A lot of people who are into VHS are primarily horror collectors,” said seller Ryan Allison. He said he recently paid a dollar at Half Price Books for a trashy horror thriller called “Slash Dance,” then sold it to a collector for $150.
An Italian postman has had a hard time parting with other people's mail. The 56-year-old gentleman, from Vicenza Italy, has been hoarding mail in his garage – mail that included letters, bills, statements, and pamphlets – that go as far back as 2010.
He had stashed over 1,000 pounds of mail in yellow plastic containers that belonged to the post office – 43 of them in all. But he now must part with his collection, as a recycling company discovered it when they came to clean out his garage.
The Vicenza post office promised to deliver all of the mail - even if some of it is eight years too late.
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Anita Pointer, vocalist for famed 1980s R&B group The Pointer Sisters, is also a major collector of black memorabilia, from racist caricature cookie jars and mechanical banks to slave shackles and disturbing children’s books like Ten Little Niggers and Little Black Sambo. Read the rest
YouTube user OpenBooster uses his aptly-named account to open booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards.
Witness his palpable delight when he pulls one of the Power Nine cards from an unopened 20-year-old Alpha set, a mint-condition Black Lotus. Last year a similar card sold for over $27,000.
The excitement starts at about 8 minutes in.
Magic: The Gathering card worth $27,000
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Over at Collectors Weekly, BB pal Ben Marks interviews Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, but not about his music. Turns out, Schools is an avid collector of Hot Wheels, Wacky Packs, and vinyl records. Read the rest