there’s the rub and it’s all taken care of with a sanford magic rub

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

THIS IS A TRUE STORY of the derrings-do that so often tran­spire in the swash­buck­ling (and often pi­rat­ical) world record col­lecting. And it’s an honest to Grom­mett true story be­cause Wholly Grom­mett does not like people leading people on with falsehoods—especially when it comes to records. Grom­mett is very, very con­cerned about the state of record col­lecting in the world today.

It takes place in two areas that do not nor­mally re­ceive a lot of at­ten­tion from the media (un­less some­thing hor­rible oc­curs). Emeryville is a small city in Alameda County lo­cated in a cor­ridor be­tween Berkeley and Oak­land and ex­tending to the shore of San Fran­cisco Bay. Castro Valley is a small town lo­cated a few miles above Hay­ward in Alameda County on the East Bay.


It cost a quarter and erased all of the dirt and grime on record jackets without making awful marks on the cover! 


In 1981, I was at­tending a record show at the Hol­iday Inn in Emeryville right off of Route-80. I was there as a dealer and one of the records that I had dis­played on the wall be­hind me was a copy of RCA Victor LPM-3584, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF. It was a first pressing with twelve tracks in­cluding Runnin’ ‘Round This World and the un­al­tered (or un­cen­sored ver­sions) of Let Me In and Run Around.

The record was an ex­ceed­ingly clean VG++++++1 with NM la­bels, but it was the jacket that was the issue: it had ac­cu­mu­lated more than its fair share—and there’s a term, fair share, that al­ways makes me stop for a second and think com­radely thoughts of socialism—of dirt-ring on both the front and back covers. Be­cause of this, I graded the jacket VG, de­spite being oth­er­wise in fine con­di­tion (no dog-eared cor­ners, no seam-splits, no ring-wear, etc.).

Now even then that par­tic­u­larly pressing of that par­tic­ular record was highly sought after and I was asking a whop­ping $50 for the it, a not un­fair price in thirty years ago when cleanly peeled mono ‘butcher covers’ could be had for $100. And I had a col­lector (let’s call him Rick) who was standing in front of my table, holding my copy of LPM-3584, wanting it, knowing he prob­ably wouldn’t see an­other copy today.



This copy of LPM-3854, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF, is not the copy that I sold in 1981. It is an image that I lifted from the In­ternet to il­lus­trate just how dirty the jacket was. The copy above is NOT as dirty as the copy that I cleaned, but it will give the reader an idea of what I mean by “dirt-ring” on the jacket, es­pe­cially along the bottom be­neath the photo/artwork.

The Sanford Magic Rub

But then there’s the rub: the dirt-ring on the covers, which of course he pointed out to me as a de­fect that should allow for room to dicker. It did allow some room for a deal, but not the kind of deal he was expecting.

“No problem!” I said. “Just take the album home, slip the record out of the jacket, and you can clean the front and back up with a San­ford Magic Rub.”

“What’s San­ford magic rub?” asked po­ten­tial buyer Rick.

“You don’t know what San­ford Magic Rub is?” I asked incredulously.

“Never heard of it,” replied wannabe owner Rick.

MagicRub 1000
You want San­ford Magic Rub, not Pris­ma­color Magic Rub, that looks ex­actly the same but has “Pris­ma­color” at the top of each eraser in­stead of “San­ford.”

So, I told him that it was a non-abrasive eraser from a com­pany called San­ford that I had used in art school. It cost a quarter and erased all of the dirt and grime on record jackets without making the awful marks most erasers made or lifting off any of the light gloss from the glossy paper that Amer­ican record com­pa­nies used for album cover slicks.

With a Magic Rub and a wee bit of elbow grease he could have the TAKES OFF album looking like new!

He wasn’t in­ter­ested. No doubt he didn’t be­lieve me.

So I made him an offer: take the album now for $50 or I would take it home and I would apply the Magic Rub and the elbow grease to the jacket. (I would have done that prior to the show but I had just ac­quired the album and hadn’t gotten around to my usual magic rub­bing.)  I would hold the record for him for the up­coming Castro Valley swap meet—but the cleaned-up album would cost him $100!

Rick laughed. “It’s a deal,” he said, no doubt as­suming it was a deal that he would never have to honor . . .



This copy of LPM-3854, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF, is not the copy that I sold in 1981. It is an image that I lifted from the In­ternet to il­lus­trate just how clean I was able to get the jacket using the San­ford Magic Rub eraser—including re­moving al­most all of the dirt-ring!

Run around but let me in

The record col­lec­tors ‘show’ at the Castro Valley Boy’s Club was a flea market held in the Club’s parking lot. I was set up again as a wheeler-dealer and when Rick showed up I pre­sented him with the album.

As promised, it was com­pletely cleaned-up and the jacket looked al­most NM in­stead of the dirty af­fair that he had looked at just a few weeks before.

His jaw dropped: “This has to be an­other album!”

“Nope. That’s the same one.”

“Un­fuck­ing­be­liev­able . . .”

“You still want it?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. This is easily the best copy I’ve ever seen!”

“Okay . . . a hun­dred bucks and it’s yours.”

As he counted out the five twen­ties and handed them to me, he said, “Thanks! You made my day!” and turned to leave.

But he stopped, turned, smiled . . .

“What’s the name of that eraser again?”

“Magic Rub by San­ford.” 2



FEATURED IMAGE: No, no Magic Rib eraser is going to clean this base­ball! But then, we’re not dis­cussing dirty base­balls, we’re dis­cussing dirty record album jackets—not a one of which will ever see the crap that the av­erage base­ball goes through in just a couple of innings.



1  I know, I know! Enough al­ready with the plus signs!!! (But hey, I saw this grading on an eBay auc­tion and found it so amusing that I had to use it on you!)

2  You want the eraser that has just “SANFORD® MAGIC RUB® 1954” printed on its top, not the one for Pris­ma­color pencils!

3  I know, I know! Enough al­ready with the ex­cla­ma­tion points!3

4  Did you know that in most of the English-writing world that an ex­cla­ma­tion point (‘!’) is called an ex­cla­ma­tion mark? Both make sense but since we all al­ready agree on ques­tion mark, why not go for con­sis­tency? (But the con­sis­tent lack of con­sis­tency in the Eng­lish lan­guage is hardly a bugaboo for most users—kinda makes the lan­guage fun to play with, nyet?) 



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