Monday, December 6, 2010

Picture Discs Make Perfect Collectible

The vinyl record resurgence is in full swing and going hand-in-hand with this phenomenon is a renewed interest in picture discs. Not only are they graced with fantastic artwork or a photo of the artist or band, these marvels of vinyl are usually made in limited quantities making them highly sought after and collectible.

Picture discs are manufactured to be a collectible and not meant to play as well as a conventional vinyl record. This is due to the manufacturing process as each side is coated with layers of PVC (poly vinyl chloride); sometimes up to five layers. As this process is being done, a continuous groove of music or even a band interview is pressed onto the playing surface.

Picture discs made their debut in the 20’s and 30’s with various methods and materials utilized for their production. Early picture discs were manufactured using a sheet of thin vinyl film which was placed over a thick paper print and then pressed with the grooves with varying degrees of success. Early pioneers of picture discs included RCA Victor, which released some special edition picture discs of their top performers, Musika Postkarte Company of Germany, Trusound of Great Britain and Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan, who sold their recordings under the Vogue Records moniker.

These Vogue picture discs were invented in the 40’s by Tom Saffady and were sold during the 1946-47 for fifty to seventy-five cents apiece. With seventy-four titles in all, they featured such artists as Lulu Belle, the Charlie Shavers Quartet and Patsy Montana and were ten inches in diameter and were made of an aluminum platter covered with vinyl. However, due to poor sales, the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving a legacy of highly collectible picture discs.

In the 70’s, some record companies pressed picture discs as a novelty and production became more of a promotional tool. Most discs replicated the front of the album cover art but some included rare images of the band or artist or specifically modified artwork. Because of the limited quantities, unique shapes and different pressings, theses picture discs are highly sought after by collectors. They are framed and prominently displayed to show off their full color glory.

In the late 70’s major record companies like Capitol Records, Epic Records and Columbia Records started to manufacture picture discs in large numbers. Hot selling groups like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Blondie and the Steve Miller Band, among many others, flooded the market and still command top prices in today’s market, forty years after their release.

The 80’s saw the picture disc market booming and it was a very important element to any artists or bands release campaign. With the boon of digital music in the late 80’s and 90’s, and along with the demise and decline of the vinyl record, production dropped and the picture disc was utilized as more of a limited release item or for promotional purposes.

With vinyl now seeing a resurgence, so too has the interest in picture discs. Indie bands as well as top mainstream artists and bands are producing top rate picture discs and the market shows no sign of letting up and these future collectibles are now in collector’s hands and framed for display.
Picture discs are by far my favorite collectible. They 'hold' their value very well, are great to look at and are easy to resell (if you choose to do so). Certainly, a weakness in my collecting genes, I will continue to add to my collection of picture discs for years to come. I have also made an 'a-store' and have selected some of my personal favoites. Check it out here:   Buy Picture Discs Here


Kurt said...

I love picture disc's,Though I mostly get them for visual entertainment since most of my picture disc's don't have the greatest sound quality.There are some exceptions though.Like this recent release by Judy Dyble.It's a Limited 7" vinyl EP (500 only)on 180 gram vinyl and it's almost sold out.

Keep an eye out also for the Trader Horne re-issue.It's a must with it's replica singles which are limited to the first 500 buyers.This is not going to see distribution since it has nearly sold out on pre-order.Don't delay,get yours today...

Kurt said...

The Trader Horne Re-Issue is now sold out.