For the majority of young collectors, our collections began with some used records. For most, this is due to a collection being handed down to us. For others, the affordability of used records was the beginning. Whatever the reason, used records commonly serve as the gateway to a lifetime of record collecting.
Vinyl offers a unique aesthetic to the used market. While there are plenty of used CD collectors, vinyl wrote the book when it came to hunting down music in record stores. For those collectors, willing to dig through every dusty box under the racks, we know that it is the whole experience that makes record collecting worthwhile. The hunt is what drives us, and the music is our reward. After hours of digging, we find the one album we have searched the world for. If we are truly lucky, the condition is acceptable and it quickly becomes a crowned jewel of our collection. However others may be too well loved, and at first glance appear to be destined for the thrift shop bargain bin. Maybe its cover is faded. Maybe its seams are splitting. It may have some light surface scratches and a few fingerprints. There is permanent marker on the jacket and several goo spots of past price tags in varying degrees permanence. There are weird smells and plenty of decade old dust. However real collectors know, no matter what condition, each used record tells a story and every imperfection is another chapter.
That marker lettering; “Jenny” written on the back was done so that Jenny didn’t lose her favorite record when she took it to a slumber party to share with her friends. That scratch on the first track was where a father tried to teach his son how to play a record and he dropped the tonearm. Those marks next to the track listing indicated the listener’s favorites. Those split seems on the sleeve prove the album has been taken out dozens if not hundreds of times. The gatefold has the distinct smell of weed and those faded sides of the jacket match up perfectly to hands holding the sleeve, reading liner notes. Those tape marks show how much someone tried to preserve their music. Those price tags, and the after goo left by previous ones, show just how many times it has changed hands in retail, and those hands have left their own marks, the fingerprints on the black vinyl. The prints last decades, as a badge of the previous owner, until a new one discovers the record, way in the back in the bin, cleans its, enjoys it, and adds their own fingerprints and the cycle repeats.
Many of us have no intention of selling our collections. Our hope is that it would find a suitable and loving home with someone who values the collections as much as we did while building it. While we hope our children want to keep our collections, the real dream is that they will listen and enjoy the music in it. So we should leave the occasional fingerprint. Something to remind them we once did what they are doing that that very moment. Then they can smile, clean the record, and leave their own fingerprints.
Try that with a digital download.
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