Needle Screech Blog

Expensive Music Memorabilia = Thieving Opportunity

Unfortunately, we’ll probably see more and more of this.  Prices for music-related material, from records to signed guitars, keep going up and up. What enterprising thief would not jump at the opportunity to swap a hefty profit for a snatched guitar signed by a major pop star? The importance of having your collection cataloged and insured is obvious.


Liam Gallagher memorabilia stolen from Birmingham home

Musicians Can’t Be Trusted With Their Legacies

This recent news article about a discarded cassette of recordings found by a collector make perfect sense if one realizes: Musicians usually have very little sense of how their work affects others. The products of their creativity are mere moments in time, left behind without a thought as they move on. It took someone rescuing  the tape of music by Carola Baer from 1990 to get it properly released. Don’t trust musicians with their legacies. Let collectors, librarians, and archivists do their jobs.


Woking musician secures record deal after 27-year-old cassette tape found in American charity shop


Downsizing Neil Young: Auctioning Off The Non-Legacy Memorabilia

After closing down the benefit concerts that funded the Bridge School, Neil Young has decided to use Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles (“the auction house of the stars”) to raise money another way: Selling off his prized model train collection and other materials. He doesn’t seem to be dipping into the “Neil Young Archive” from his solo career and from the Buffalo Springfield era, just the toys of his wealthy maturity.

Neil Young to auction off model trains, other prized possessions

Autograph Authentication Law Revised

Following up a previous item earlier this year, California just passed a revision to a draconian law that required extensive documentation and authentication for the sale of any autographed memorabilia. Particularly incensed were booksellers who sold signed copies of books, many signed at author appearances. Each signed book sold would have had to have separate documentation attesting to the time, place, and authentication of the signature. The law also affected any signed record album or other signed musical artifact, such as signed instruments. The revision, California AB228 narrows the law to specifically exempt “books, manuscripts, correspondence, art work and decorative objects.” It also raises the price of those items that need certification from $5.00 to $50.00. This is better, but it remains to be seen if “decorative objects” will be interpreted to mean record album covers, still photographs, and other common items of music memorabilia.

The SF Gate report is here.

Play Your Music, And Eat It, Too

The increasing return of vinyl to economic relevance means that creatives are working overtime trying to capture the imagination of potential buyers. The latest iteration: Cookie Vinyl.

Introducing Oreo vinyl, the tiny edible cookie that you can actually play on tiny turntables

A Hong Kong creative agency has designed a miniature vinyl record made from Oreo cookie that you can actually play music from with a tiny record player.


Despite the trend to digital in almost every area of the arts, it’s safe to say that orchestras will be needing their printed music scores for a long time. That’s based on evidence of more and more performing groups at universities and colleges welcoming the donation of large collections of symphonic and choral scores. Recent large donations have gone to places as diverse as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Miami, and Duke University in Durham, NC.

Perhaps it’s the expense of having a printed score for every instrument and singer in an ensemble; a full symphony score with all the parts can run several hundred dollars, and often the company supplying the score will only rent it!

As an appraiser who has handled several of these donations, one word of advice: Since valuation is based on the actual number of materials, make sure your account of the scores is clear on HOW MANY types you actually have. That is, does that Beethoven symphony include conductor score, or just a study score? And does it have a separate printed score part of each instrument? If so, how many parts? It’s not enough to know “parts: violins; parts: horns.” Is that 10? 25? 125? Be explicit. Your appraiser, your tax accountant, and the I.R.S. will appreciate it!

One’s Man’s Life Obsession Becomes Legacy For The Future

It’s true you can collect virtually anything, and if you have enough of it, and keep doing it long enough, someone, somewhere, is going to want it. Here’s one man who collected more than 20,000 45s, and found a home for them at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. That’s a pretty nice charitable contribution credit with the I.R.S. I should know; I did the appraisal.

Montanan’s 45-rpm record collection finds worthy home


The Vinyl Boomlet Is Driving Locals To Find Collectible Material

Plans for auction house specialising in vinyl records and entertainment memorabilia given go-ahead

A new auction house for records and music memorabilia is being established in the town of Newton-le-Willows, midway between Liverpool and Manchester in England. The small town (23,000 pop.) apparently sees an opportunity in the current economic climate to ferret out collectible music in the region and promote themselves as “enablers” between buyers and sellers. Certainly both major cities have significant music history producing artifacts ranging from Beatles-era rarities to classic rock concert posters. This regionalism may be a smart move, leveraging a local scene’s productivity for collectible material. Someone knowledgeable “on the ground” is more likely to uncover desirable material than someone at a major international auction house who simply waits for something to come in the door.

The headline above has the link to the original feature in the St Helens Star newspaper.

Brooklyn Academy of Music Puts 70,000 Archive Materials Online

An article in the New York Times announces the debut of online access to 70,000 items of precious historical music memorabilia from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The article by Joshua Barone is here.

As more institutions realize the importance of their holdings, digitization of assets will increase. Deeper and deeper digging through storehouse boxes will unearth much that is precious, historically and culturally interesting, and valuable. That makes the cataloging and appraisal of collections all that more important. So many archives don’t fully understand either what they have or how significant their collections may be.

Here are some images of wonderful items in the Brooklyn collection.