A modern mudlarker finds treasures washed up on the River Thames banks

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.

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Haruki Murakami donating his huge record collection to university

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" Read the rest

Interviews with women in the vinyl record scene

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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Visiting the VHS Swap Meet

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:

“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.

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Gentleman steals over 1,000 pounds of mail while working as postman

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.

Via Reuters

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Pointer Sister's collection of terrible and important black memorabilia

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

Collector pulls mint Magic: The Gathering card worth $27,000

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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Widespread Panic bassist: collector of Hot Wheels and Wacky Packs

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

The Troll Sanctuary

Gym instructor Michelle Kerrins owns more than 3,000 fiery-haired troll dolls and spends much of her week combing thrift stores for more. There's even a video tour of her collection—the segment is part of a forthcoming episode of TLC's My Crazy Obsession. Read the rest