The Wildly Obsessive Nature Of 78 RPM Collectors

The first day we met, John Heneghan was careful to establish a disconnect between 78 collectors and the folks who stockpile LPs or 45s—for Heneghan, the distinction is acute, comparable to collecting pebbles versus collecting diamonds. But his own collection began with an LP—a release of a Charlie Patton record, which he acquired when he was sixteen years-old. Heneghan can still describe, in remarkable detail, the subsequent epiphany;  picking up the record, feeling its heft in his hands, squinting at the photograph on the cover, flipping it over to red the date printed on the back, placing it on his turntable and releasing the needle into the groove, feeling transported, feeling changed.

“I’m not even sure that I liked it at first,” he admitted. “I liked the idea of it. It was really hard to listen to. But I was a guitar player—I had played the guitar since I was a kid—and I thought, “What is this? What is he doing.” It was only a matter of time before I started seeking out the original records, the 78s. I resisted it for a long time because I knew it would be nearly impossible, and I knew it would be a financial burden beyond what any rational mind would consider a wise decision.”

— Amanda Petrusich, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The wild, obsessive hunt for the world’s rarest 78 rpm records

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