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.
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.”
“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?)