Like Rome, a collection of records is not built in a day
More than just a simple list, it’s before anything else, a story of men who spent money, time and passion into this long-term task.
It’s all began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the former winner of the largest record collection in the world:
Paul Mawhinney: The Fallen King of vinyl
He’s a man of music, a record store owner, a producer, a Career Launcher, a vinyl maker and an influencer. He literally moved around the music world.
In 1951, at the age of 12, he bought his first collector. This is where the record buying fever begins. Moderate at start, his fever gets bigger over time. But the real trigger is in 1968 when Paul opened his own shop called Record-Rama and put heart and soul into it. He doesn’t only sell records to the collectors or provide the Dj’s. He digs, chats, unearths and buys tons and tons of vinyl. He buys back old abandoned record labels and represses vinyl that are not even in possession anymore by the majors. He quickly became a key figure in the 70’s and 80’s.
For over a half century, Paul Mawhinney has collected up to 3 million of records in his warehouse in Pittsburgh. In 1997, his collection is estimated to be worth about $ 29 million for 750,000 vinyl records and 28,000 labels. Unfortunately, in 2008 marks the end. Record-Rama closes their doors. Paul is not physically able to continue. Blind and diabetic, he has difficulties to move. He wants to find a buyer.
Despite several attempts, no one seems able to buy the entire collection. He loses hope and decides to let go, piece by piece, his collection. He goes from 3 million to 2 million of records. It represents 350 m of records.
In the following video, Paul, the king of vinyl at the time looks back at his history and kingdom.
The Archive from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.
It is only recently, in 2014, that he finally receives a concrete offer from Brazil.
The king is dead!
Long live to the new king of vinyl
Zero Freitas is a rich 62 years old Brazilian who made his fortune in road transport. He acquired the famous collection of the fallen king. But unlike Paul Mawhinney, the new king of vinyl is not from trade. He’s an enthusiastic record collector with an OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), he’s a compulsive and chronic vinyl buyer.
His obsession goes back to the age of 5 when his father bought a stereo with records. In high school, the young Zero already has 3000 albums. At age of 30, he has more than 30 000 pieces. Year after year, he does not forget his passion and continues to expand his collection to own today an immense treasure.
Thus, Freitas can only estimated roughly his collection; especially as he continues to buy huge quantities of vinyl all around the world. In addition to the purchase of the collection of Paul Mawhinney, he acquired the one from Murray Gershenz; also a collector from Los Angeles and the owner of 2,000,000 pieces . A documentary has been made in 2011 about him and under the name of Music Man Murray. Imagine the thing! To store all his vinyl, he had to buy a 25,000 m² warehouse!
– Sure, it takes a little more space than a hard drive –
This Brazilian is really not like any other. Unlike traditional collector who focuses only on some pieces (as a genre, a time, a band …), Freitas wants to store … EVERYTHING! He wants to hold all the music in the world! It might seem, at first, a little bit selfish, but it’s not. Freitas has an open and perceptive mind. He’s concerned about the future of these discs when they will all be forgotten by the world, especially since 80% of recorded music from the mid 20th century hasn’t been listed anywhere.
With this in mind, he hired a dozen of people to help him to organize his Dantesque collection. Their role is to unearth the albums, clean them, take pictures and list them in a digital database.
From now on, we can ask ourselves few questions:
Should we keep the collection in a single place or dispatcher it between several places?
Do we have to create a huge database of the entire music in the world?
If so, the matter of the media dematerialization is at stake. Should we end the use of the objects?