collectors collect to collect (because the collector wants what the collector wants)

Estimated reading time is 3 minutes.

FOR THOSE OF YOU with an interest in collecting, the Record Collectors Guild website is a forum titled Ask Neal Umphred. Anyone can ask me anything and as I am often an absentee landlord, others may answer the question in my stead. A few days ago, I was asked a question by a Guild member who wheels and deals records out of Mexico:

“Neal, could you explain why anyone would want a ‘rare’ Mexican pressing of a less-than-mediocre Dylan record? The US pressing is likely to be the best-sounding copy anyway, and it’s a pretty murky recording. What’s the point?”

A legitimate question to anyone not afflicted (infected?) with the collecting bug (collectoritis?) Here is the answer that I just posted: 

“It’s like the absurd but understandable explanation about who loves whom: The heart wants what the heart wants.

Except here it’s Collectors collect to collect.

Collectors do NOT collect odd variations to listen and judge. That’s for those poor folks cursed with the rare GES (Golden Ear Syndrome).

Did I just coin a phrase?!? Two phrases? Heckarootie (did Little Richard say that?), I’m putting those two on my website and claim them!”

So, here I am posting the above to lay claim to having just coined the phrase, Collectors collect to collect as an explanation for why someone seeks decidedly oddball and even unquestionably inferior versions of records/items that he already owns.

GoldenEars teeshirt 500

Golden ear syndrome

The second is GES, or Golden Ear Syndrome, for those poor folks we call audiophiles who hear things so much better than most of us that they pay absurd sums for incredibly mediocre records because they were recorded, produced, engineered, mastered, and pressed so well that they hear differences that escape mere mortals.

The closest thing to my non-existent (like in ‘made up’) disease, golden ear syndrome (GES), is Goldenhar Syndrome, also known as Oculo-Auriculo-Vertebral syndrome.

Goldenhar Syndrome is a congenital birth defect which involves deformities of the face. It usually affects one side of the face only. Characteristics include: a partially formed or totally absent ear (microtia); the chin may be closer to the affected ear; one corner of the mouth may be higher than the other; benign growths of the eye; and a missing eye.” (Faces)

As neat as it would be if goldenhar was some Netherlandian-speak for ‘golden ear,’ alas it is not: it is named after Maurice Goldenhar who initially described the syndrome in 1952

There was nothing on the first four pages of Google that had anything close to Collectors collect to collect. Here is the best that I could find: “If your debt goes to collection, for the most part the debt collector can employ all of the collection methods available to the original creditor.” And that was from a legal advice site!

Finally, collectoritis is all over the place—from aquatic planted aquariums to various collector-oriented sites using it as I would use it. And, believe it or not, Heckarootie was the handle of some blogger on Tumblr who seems to have left the worldwide web without explanation. So, I cannot crow triumph on either of these

But “Collectors collect to collect” and “Golden Ear Syndrome” may be phrases new under the sun as I have coined them so they are mine mine mine—but you can use them any time you like . . .


GoldenEarsPark 750

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of Alouette Lake in Golden Ears Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.




10 thoughts on “collectors collect to collect (because the collector wants what the collector wants)”

  1. Hey Neal,

    I went to the Record Collectors Guild website this morning, and the whole thing has changed!!!! The only way to access the forum is via Google, and it has nothing newer than late October. Plus, I can’t log in.

    Any idea what’s going on? There is no way to contact anybody.

  2. MD

    I just went to the usual connection and it is gone. 

    This is a completely different look with all the forums gone!

    But if you Google “record collectors guild” you will find listings for their various sections, including one for the forums. So there I went and now it no longer recognizes my username and/or password, so I am working on that.

    We will see what we will see . . .


    • Same problem here. It doesn’t recognize my username or password either. Also, the forum posts only go up to late October. The last two or three weeks are missing.

      Strange and sad. But, thanks for the update.

  3. Just a follow up......I found a way to email them to ask what’s up. No response. I fear the RCG has passed on with nary a chance to bid farewell.

    I’m hoping the others there will remember your blog and maybe check in from time to time (not to mention come by to read your and comic books have always been the perfect combo for me).

  4. MD

    I have heard nothing from them about my password. It looks as though the site will maintain its past posts and forum and add nothing new. As far as I was concerned, it has been all but dead for years. My posts, my questions, my soliciting information or advice usually brought few if any replies. Ho hum . . .


    PS: Whatcha doing up so early?

    • You’re correct that the traffic there had died off quite a bit compared to, say, a year ago.....but there were still a few people (“Rooster” comes to mind) who kept posting some neat discography info from time to time. A guy named “Heidler” also posted lots of interesting stories as well, but he seemed to move on a while back as well.

      Having said that, I guess you’re right. It may have been on the way out, but I’m gonna miss checking in there to see what popped up.

      Either way, I’m a’gonna keep checking out your blog, so don’t go anywhere.

      As for being up early....this is early?

      Anyway, thanks for the info.

      • MD

        I dunno what it is, but American collectors just can’t seem to get their act together like their European counterparts. The Internet happens and used record stores and collectors swaps all but end in the States. In Europe, both are doing gangbuster business!

        Similarly, here in the US we have more than 300,000,000 and we have one record collectors magazine, and it’s not very good. England has 50,000,000 and they support several fantastic collectors magazines!

        Well, it sorta ties in with things that I learned as the price guide guru that American buyers/collectors just don’t wanna admit: that English and German and Japanese and etc, collectors are more passionate, more determined about their hobby . . .


        PS: Speaking of early, on Saturday at 5 am the temperature outside out house was 17 degrees F! Today, same time and it is 40 . . .

  5. Neal,

    5 way too early for me to fathom.

    As for your other comments, you made some excellent points. I have read elsewhere that a lot of American rarities are making their way to Japan, both via the postal system and from buyers actually coming to the States to shop. Having typed that, I can’t remember where I read it, so hopefully my memory is correct. Are Europeans also doing the same thing?

    I’m not sure what’s happened in the States with collectors. When I first started getting into serious collecting 30 years ago (now I’m depressed realizing it’s been that long and I’m that old), I remember being blown away when I discovered that Goldmine magazine existed. It used to be a tremendous magazine, but times have changed. Discoveries was a good one as well from what I recall.

    Speaking as someone who really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.....could it be that the style of collecting in the States has changed? Maybe the majority of collectors here are younger buyers who tend to focus on the new releases (both of old and new material) and not so much on original pressings. 

    I dunno...either way, your insights are appreciated.

    • MD

      American collectors used to argue that the reason that Japanese collectors and certain European collectors paid more for the really rare, desirable items (for the japanese that was especially true of ‘hard bop’ jazz LPs of the ’50s) was that their currency was stronger.

      Well, worldwide currencies have fluctuated all over the place in the past twenty years and guess what? Japanese and certain European collectors STILL pay more for the really rare, desirable items.

      It is difficult not to assume that they want American records more than American collectors.

      GOLDMINE has been a less than minor player for decades. DISCOVERIES was always a very pale imitation of GOLDMINE.

      There are very eager younger collectors, but as they are seeking out LPs and 45s from the ’80s and ’90s, they haven’t left as big a mark on the field. It will happen . . .



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