The other 83%

Though I had already several reasons, I've just found another for why I really should've stopped in Pittsburgh on my way out to California. That reason is RecordRama. Or rather, Paul Mawhinney's collection of vinyl records which claims to be the largest in the world, an unofficial national treasure. His basement is in fact, an archive housing an estimated 6 million unique recordings, valued at almost $50 million. The following documentary style video clip by videographer Sean Dunne tells the tale:

The Archive from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

I'm sure we all have our very own versions of Paul Mawhinney. Fabric Horse's is Jamie Dillon. Knowing that crackling sound of vinyl is enough to bring the story home. And as any ebay shopper can attest, a single part is always more valuable than the sum. Obviously, Mawhinney could fetch his price if he'd dismantle the collection. But who, with a sound mind, could blame him for being choosey? There comes a moment when an assembly of separate things becomes so much larger than its individual components that its value comes to express much more than dollars and cents. To find such volume of recordings is rare to be sure, and to find a single curator so dedicated to the maintenance of his art is equally so. If you don't already have a decided preference for the tangibility of vinyl, I certainly hope this little bit will awaken you.


  1. his collection has been on Ebay a few times now, never getting more than a few hundred thousand. sucks to think when he dies, that collection is going to put up at auction and cherry picked out. probably 90% of it will be sold in bulks because there is no real intrinsic value for the single records, it is valuable as part of the collection.

    Side note, great to see you back up there on the interwebs posting again Mary.

  2. update-

    just talked to my local record guy and he said the guy sold his collection to some guy in Ireland. it was in some magazine.