There are many types of collectors. I am a collector of records. But I collect records mainly as a vehicle for conveying the music and do not greatly care about the medium by which the music is delivered.
But then there are the REAL collectors, for whom the original source is the prize to pursue. In the realm of book collecting such collectors prize first editions. The parallel in record collecting is the original pressing (frequently of 78s, in the context of Bing), or even better, the ultimate prize, a test pressing or error (or "fluff") or some characteristic that makes the item hard to find.
Not, I emphasise, a mere copy in LP, CD or digital format but the original (sometimes unique, on a white label with handwritten identification).
These collectors have to be treasured by the rest of us, for in the main, they share their collections: they preserve their treasures and make their pristine originals available to the rest of us via issues on CD. By their very existence these collectors have preserved that which might not have been preserved, or only survived in poor condition. Some of them add additional items, extending the scope of their collection to photos, sheet music, posters and much other material to flesh out the overall story, creating a veritable museum.
There have been and remain a number of these collectors in the Crosby community, and their names are known to many of us.
One of them is John Newton. John has written extensively in "Bing" (Bing Crosby’s Rarest Records. #151, p48; Bing’s “B” Masters. #158, p27; Bing’s Rarest Broadcast Pressings. #154, p25 ; Face The Music Myths. #150, p14; More of Bing’s Rarest Records #152, p47), as well as writing obituaries on other prominent collectors and some letters, all of which add to the total of our shared knowledge. John has also made a number of his records available to us via the "Chronological Crosby" series, frequently using test pressings.
Have a look here, at John's music room, with museum type displays.
This is a short video clp. Click on IMG-044.MOV If it does not open automatically. It will give an idea of just how impressive John's collection is.
There is a further clip here
John writes :-
My Crosby collection had its beginnings slightly more than 50 years ago. When I was barely into my teen years, I had begun to "collect" old records that I would find in dusty stacks while accompanying my father on his hunts for his book collection. My earliest record collection revolved around the music of the First World War, but this quickly and dramatically changed when I found my first Brunswick record by Bing Crosby.
Bing's 1931 recording of "I Found A Million Dollar Baby" changed everything for me, and little could I imagine at the time how that recording - and how it hit my ears - would have an impact that has lasted for about five decades, and still shows no sign of diminishing. Of course one record lead to another, and yet another in quick order. But, in those days it was much more difficult to locate certain recordings. Younger collectors, who might have begun collecting in the 1970's or later, had a goodly number of "re-issue" long-play records to provide many of Bing's recordings from the 1930's, but in the very early 1960's there were few LPs available that contained the wondrous recordings from Bing's "Brunswick Period". Several were available, but at that time the majority of Bing's Brunswicks were still only to be found in 78rpm form... IF you could find them. It took years of letter writing and telephone calls to gather together all of Bing's Brunswicks, some of which came at relatively substantial prices. Even today, after countless attics and basements have been emptied, and older collections have found their way into younger hands, certain Crosby records remain very difficult to find in original release form... and that is with the Internet and on-line auctions providing sources that were impossible to imagine in the early 1960's, or even later.
But, even with the enthusiasm of youth, gathering Brunswicks. Victors, Columbias and Deccas, there was much to continually learn and discover. And, a couple of years after I began collecting Bing's recordings, I obtained a record that was to again change my collecting focus and significantly alter what I began to search for. By way of a sales list from a record dealer during 1966 or 1967 ( I forget exactly ), I noted a Bing record for sale listed as "'Please' 12-inch Victor Record with Announcer = $10.00 ".
In those days, $ 10.00 was a lot of money for a record. A brand new Beatles LP cost only $ 2.98 when released, so $ 10.00 was a significant price for an old 78rpm record. I remember convincing my parents that this would be an advance Christmas present, or something like that, and I had a feeling that this record would be "something special". Since my father was a book collector, and had a "collector's mentality", he seemed to understand and agreed to my suggestion. And, when the record arrived (and it barely survived its trip through the mails), it really was something special.
The record was (and is) a wonderful recording, one of a pair of recordings that Bing made to advertise and promote his first starring feature film, The Big Broadcast. It doesn't use sound-track recordings, as later became the practice for such "Exploitation" records. This, and others made for Bing's first three feature films, were specially recorded in the Hollywood studios of RCA Victor, using cast members and the Paramount Recording Orchestra, directed by Nathaniel Finston. By the end of 1933, studios had begun to use sound-track recordings for such purposes, and occasionally used alternate sound-track recordings that are different from the sound-tracks of the released films.
My obtaining Bing's 12-inch Victor recording of "Please" (with composer Sam Coslow announcing) made me begin to wonder if such records were produced to advertise other Crosby films... and this lead to a never-ending search for what I call "Movie Studio Discs". records that were made for the film studios and were never intended to reach the public. There are several types of these studio records. Some were made to advertise films in theatre lobbies or over the radio, and many collectors assume that all such records were made to promote the films, but that is definitely not the case. Some of these sound-track pressings were pressed for internal use by the studios during the production phases of the films for which they were recorded. Others were made for rehearsal purposes or "play-back" purposes, while yet others were made as "demo" discs. Some earlier pressings were "synchronous" discs, used to supply the sound-tracks for films in theatres that still used the "sound-on-disc" process for exhibiting films (similar to the Vitaphone process).
Since none of these types of records were produced for the general public, they all have varying degrees of rarity. Some, particularly some radio promo discs, are relatively common among collectors, while some of the records produced for studio use are quite scarce and extremely rare.
Some of the movie discs in my collection are so scarce that I've only seen one or two copies in almost 50 years of searching for such things. In overall volume, it may not sound like much, but the collection contains about 250 examples of Bing's "movie discs" ( I counted to over 240 or 250 several years ago, and decided to stop counting. What's the point? I keep searching for additions to the collection. And these numbers don't include duplicate copies that are available for trade with other collectors.) - - - - -
To be continued, with static images from John's collection
i'm really enjoying this. It would be nice to share it with all the members of the ICC through BING magazine if John agrees.
John continues - - - -
I cannot say that I single-handedly accomplished the gathering of all the Bing material in my collection. Many friends and acquaintances, as well as numerous record dealers, have contributed to my collecting mania in many ways, both great and small. Many of the friends who are still with us will go un-mentioned, since I haven't asked for their permission to publish their names; but there were also good friends who have passed on and their own collections ultimately provided significant additions to my collection that I otherwise might never have obtained.
Two such friends, who many older Crosby collectors might have known, provided significant additions to my collection. I met both of these gentlemen back in the mid-to-late 1960's, initially through correspondence and telephone calls and later through personal visits. At the time we first met, both were already well-known among Crosby circles.
Howard Levine, a good friend who passed away several years ago, had an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Bing. Howard worked at Decca Records in the days of Jack Kapp and, later, Milt Gabler, legendary record producers. Some of the "special" records in Howard's collection had been given to him during his years at Decca: Test pressings, Private recordings, et cetera, et cetera.
( Howard personally produced the "Bing In Hollywood" series of LPs for Decca many years ago, as well as the 2-LP set "For Collectors Only", in collaboration with another celebrated collector.)
About 10 years ago, during a telephone conversation, I happened to mention that I still "needed" several movie discs that Howard had in his collection. While Howard wanted to maintain his complete collection of all of Bing's commercial records, he suggested that he'd be agreeable to allow me to buy whatever NON-commercial Crosby records I might want. I ultimately purchased several dozen of Bing's movie discs (all that he had), as well as scores of test pressings, many of which were used in producing the Jonzo series of CDs. -
to be continued - - -
BUT HERE ARE SOME IMAGES FROM JOHN'S IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION.
A poster for The Big Broadcast -
A Special Brunswick record presented to Bing by Jack Kapp... as a gag or joke.
"Bill Williams" was the name of Bing's character in the film GOING HOLLYWOOD
Note that label has no catalog number.
The recordings, "After Sundown" and "Beautiful Girl" are the same as regular Brunswick issues.
A Brunswick Special "To The Gentlemen Of The Press" - A special signed presentation copy of "Star Dust" / "Dancing In The Dark" ...
25 Special pressings were prepared by Brunswick and signed by Bing, and were presented to Press Representatives and those attending Bing's first coast-to-coast CBS broadcast - September 2, 1931.
The color of the label is actually bright red, and not the pink-ish tone that appears in the photo, and the original ink signature is slightly faded (both sides were hand-signed by Bing) . The combination of "glare" and the color have made the photo much more difficult than other labels.
Here's My Heart (sic) - a 16-inch Transcription for a HOLLYWOOD MOVIE PARADE program, a series of weekly radio broadcasts produced by Paramount Pictures to advertise and promote their current and forthcoming film releases. This program, labeled as "HERE's MY HEART" (sic) was broadcast early-to-mid- December 1934.
To be continued - -
Last edited by Richard Baker (03/10/2013 2:06 pm)
Thanks to Richard, John and Malcolm for sharing interesting Bing Collections. When I was very into Rock music my favorite was Elton John. I had the most autographs[I got them in person] and a lot of rare items from about 45 years of collecting. I sold a lot of items when I was going through a rough time. I could have made a lot more money on many items. Anyway, back to Bing, I have some autograph's and other memorabilia as well as many CD's but it's nothing compared to you guys[Chaps to my British friends]. I still have Bing's golf club given to me by Howard Crosby!
John continues - - - -
Jack Souther was another legendary Crosby collector, having begun his collection in 1945. Jack's collection included many, many rarities that he'd gathered together in almost 60 years of avid searching for Bing material. Of course there were several dozen movie discs, but also all other imaginable types of Crosby records: Private recordings, test pressings, transcriptions, and so on.
Many of Jack's rarities also originated with record industry sources, including Bing himself. Some of the records in Jack's collection had originally belonged to Jack Kapp, while others had belonged to Joe Perry, known as "Decca Joe", A&R man for Decca during the 1930's and 40's, after following Jack Kapp from Brunswick in 1934. Jack was also present at the Crosby Estate Sale in San Francisco during 1982, from which even more rarities found their way into Jack's collection.
Whatever went into Jack's collection, stayed in Jack's collection, although we occasionally did some trading over the years. About 6 years ago I received a call from Jack one evening. He advised that he'd been diagnosed with a terminal and inoperable medical condition. He also advised me that he knew and understood the scope of my Bing collection, and wanted the Bing rarities that he'd so lovingly gathered to go "to a good home, where they'll be appreciated for what they are". ... We spent much time on numerous telephone calls, all concentrated upon Bing Crosby records. Ultimately, at least a dozen large boxes of records made their way from San Francisco to Delaware, all double-boxed for protection, and each and every box containing more rarities than the average collector might see in a decade of collecting.
In addition to these departed friends, who are sorely missed, there were many other record collecting adventures that added to the collection. A number of years ago, while visiting a flea market in the Los Angeles area, I happened to start chatting with an elderly fellow who was looking through a stack of old records. Our conversation soon divulged that he was retired from Paramount Pictures. Naturally, I asked if he had ever come across any Paramount discs featuring Bing...
The answer was "yes", he had some discs in his garage that had been given to him by Ellsworth Hoagland, who was film editor on "Holiday Inn"... A week or so later, a package arrived containing a group of Paramount play-back discs from both "Holiday Inn" and "Birth Of The Blues", all because of a chance encounter 3,000 miles from home. ... Another interesting experience occurred a few years ago when I noticed a couple of scarce Paramount discs on ebay. I sent a note, asking if the seller happened to have any others of this type. He sent back a telephone number, and when we spoke, I learned that he had a number of great Paramount Studio records. He told me that he had attended an estate sale, and the owner of the home had been the daughter of Nat Finston, who was musical director at Paramount from about 1930 through 1935 or so. ... He had a stack of these records, many featuring Bing, and he read the titles over the telephone. We arranged a sale then and there, and shortly afterward a couple of parcels arrived containing some wonderful records. I found it very interesting that I was holding Nat Finston's personal copies of Paramount discs from the early 30's.
All of this, of course, is merely a recounting of the highlights of many years of mundane searching, much of which is fruitless, but nevertheless occasionally produces wondrous things. From time to time I still miss my departed friends, but I also look forward to meeting "new" friends, who are also avid Crosby collectors. ... If possible, scheduled in advance and with time available, I generally welcome visitors, most of whom might spend a few hours immersed in listening to Crosby rarites.
AND HERE ARE SOME MORE IMAGES FROM JOHN'S IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION.
An original poster for Bing's short, "Just An Echo"... which I believe to be among the rarest of Crosby movie posters.
"To Jack" - Original pressing of the recording for/from the MGM Party at Marion Davies beach house, following filming of GOING HOLLYWOOD...
This disc originally belongedto Jack Kapp, and was given to him by Bing (see inscription on label). It contains the "song" "Rollicking Rockaway Raoul"
?? Perhaps in return for the Special Brunswick record that Jack Kapp had made for Bing containing two songs from GOING HOLLYWOOD, but with artist name on the label as "Bill Williams" (Bing's character's name in the film) ??
Last edited by Richard Baker (05/10/2013 10:52 pm)
And here at last, having managed to sort out the technical problems with the display of the images, is a further selection from John's amazing collection ---
"Where The Turf Meets The Surf" Recording (copied from Decca original pressing) for use at Del Mar.
"Get Out and Get Under - " Columbia advertising transcription, advertising Columbia Tele-Focal Radios...
"Reaching For The Moon" Reel 7.
Early 16-inch sound synchronous disc (Reel containing Bing's vocal) "When The Folks High Up Do The Mean Low Down"
Early 16-inch Synchronous Sound disc for KING OF JAZZ Reel 1
"King of Jazz", exploitation record.
"White Christmas" Original Test of Bing's initial attempt at commercially recording "White Christmas"
Matrix L 3009-A (rejected)
This is the only original existing of this rejected take.
Decca/MCA has no test, no master, no mother, stamper or meteal part.
All "re-issues" with this take were originally copied from this test pressing.
Note: Original pencil writing on test label says "Use -B"
A corner of John's music room -
Brunswick Poster - September 1932. Caricature drawings of the leading Brunswick artists and their current releases.
Pictured are Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, Guy Lombardo, Ben Bernie, Arthur Tracy, Red Nichols and others... Bing's releases are Brunswick 6320 and 6351.
and finally, a copy of the Press Sheet for "Just One More Chance"
I extend my grateful thanks to John for writing so extensively and for allowing me to post both his text and the images from his collection. I am sure that many visotors to this site will be impressed.
I am sorry that there were some hiccups along the way in getting the displays to work - I had apparently buried the original images through too many layers of subdirectories.
In the previous post there is reference to "Rollicking Rockaway Raoul"
The reference is to Raoul Walsh, the film director.
You can download and listen to Bing singing the song here -
and you can read the story behind the song (and see a transcription of the words) here -
I have had an email asking if I know of other collectors with interesting items that could be posted here. Well, the answer has to be that it is for any such collectors to come forward.
However I would point to Jon Oye, to whose site I have a link above. He has a wonderful collection of magazine covers, record sleeves and labels, and much else. Explore his site.
Tony Meade has much of interest on his blog http://bingsphotos.blogspot.co.uk/
Others have only to come forward, and in answer to the same enquirer, no, I do not think I personally have much to show off. My collection is almost wholly of LPs, CDs and a few DVDs. Some of the LPs might now be hard to find but there are no unique (or even very rare) items.
I have kept a few 78s as keepsakes but most went years ago. I suppose the prize exhibit (if there is one) is the Decca 78 album A-628, "Bing Crosby Sings with Al Jolson, Dick Haymes and the Andrews Sisters" with thick card covers and three 78s in almost mint condition. Nothing unique and only mentioned to show that I do NOT have anything very special - just a very large selection of LPs.
Thank you for posting this fascinating overview of John Newton's collection, Richard. He, Jack Souther, and precious few others are, as you say, to be treasured by all of us. Acquiring rarities of any kind was a much more daunting undertaking even twenty years ago than it is today. Thanks to those in the pre-internet era with the fortitude to seek out scarce, historically significant recordings before they were relegated to oblivion (or worse, destroyed), and preserving them for posterity, we now all benefit. We are, as Mr. Newton's namesake famously said, standing on the shoulders of giants.
Yes, thank you for reproducing such a fascinating report and the illustrations. A feature in BING magazine would be great.
This thread has had a higher viewing rate in a short time than any other, and has been one of only three threads that has generated e-mails direct to me off board, which show a strong appetite for more. Would that were possible.
A very positive reaction to a fascinating collection.
These rarity collectors are essential to "our movement." Richard, thanks for bringing to light their diligence and dedication on behalf of preserving Bing for the future.