1/2 track tapes were made on devices that used tubes. For those interested
in shaded dogs, etc., in the early pressings where this is also an
attribute, tape has the great advantage of being in equally good or better
sound. It is not subject to the problems introduced by disc cutting- not
necessarily on the manufacturing end but on that of the consumer who wants
superior results without the need for a fancy turntable and cartridge and
the ceremony that goes along with setting up such equipment, record
cleaning, etc. Tapes are never off-center, though we are all aware of the
problems introduced by bad duplication and poor maintenance of the playback
Since this is a high end market, there is often serious competition for
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of carlstephen koto
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:29 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Madness
On Mar 9, 2011, at 7:47 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> It's hard to put a value on artifacts when it comes to collectors, so
that could explain part of it.
> -- Tom Fine
For the most part, I think Tom put his finger on it with the statement
above. IMHO, what we're seeing with the most insane prices are the
activities of completest collectors.
The craziest prices I've seen for commercial reel to reels have been rock in
general and Pink Floyd releases in particular. A while back a 1/4 track
7.5ips tape of "Meddle" (said to be a Japanese issue) was sold for a BIN
price of,.. hold onto your hats ladies and gents,.. $4299!
Another PF tape, "Atom Heart Mother", went through a heated bidding war and
ended up selling for over $2k!
I've also seen several of the more popular jazz recordings such as "Waltz
for Debby" and "Kind of Blue" sell for well over $500.
After checking the eBay histories of many of the "winning bidders" I saw no
other reel to reel tape purchases and doubt that many of these folks even
own machines to listen to these tapes.
Regarding these classical releases, I do have a number of them myself but
refuse to pay these kind of prices for them. The last couple of years has
seen a steady increase in the starting and selling prices of these old 1/2
tracks. Most of these old tapes I have were purchased for under $20 and many
for less than $10. Those same releases now regularly sell for $70-$150.
And while I do enjoy listening to the ones I have once or twice a year, the
prices they now sell for will keep me from buying any more.
As to why these folks are paying such prices for these 1/2 track Mercuries
and RCAs, my guess is that they expect far more than these tapes can
deliver. A couple of years ago there were several bidders on these items who
seemed to be competing with each other. They also seemed to have endless
funds to do so (I followed the activities of a couple who regularly spent
$2k a week on tape purchases). This drove up the prices and after these
bidders stopped, the high prices remained.
If these high prices add to the interest and expectations of these tapes I
can only guess.
On the other hand, I do have nearly all the Barclay-Crocker tapes (I paid an
average of $12-$13 for each) and I do listen to them regularly. I realize
that if I wish to complete my collection of these tapes, I'll have to bit
the bullet and pay much higher prices now.
Fortunately, with these tapes, the prices rise for a few months then go back
down to more reasonable levels for a bit.
Carl Stephen Koto
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Roderic G Stephens"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 10:08 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Madness
> Hello All,
> This is something that Tom should be able to address. It is a really a
tribute to Tom's mom and dad's historic recordings, but this resurgence of
recognition and value truly shows that they did something special. I've
found that Amazon is offering excellent re-masterings of the Mercury Living
Presence series including some even in SACD, although those are, of course,
3-track. The prices are in the $6-12 range depending if used or new. My
first question is, who is doing the re-mastering, and Tom, are you involved?
The personal reviews on Amazon are mostly all five stars by those who have
purchased them. My second query has to do with the original two track reel
to reel tapes that are currently being sold on eBay. Can you believe that
today, the Antal Dorati recording of Brahm's Variations on a Theme of Haydn,
MVS5-25 sold for $202.50?!! Not only does the CD remaster have that tune,
but it also includes the Enesco: Romanian Rhapsody No.
> 2. In addition, tape MDS5-3, Bizet: Carmen Suite and L'Arlesienne Suite
No. 1 sold for $305! So, what is the reason for this madness? Pondering, Rod