Hi, Peter, for some reason I did not get your original message.
My intent in compiling the list is to share it with the Board of Directors
of a European archive with an extensive holding of commercial 78-rpm
recordings, much of it unique. I am attempting to convince them that it is
well and good that they have preserved their collection through two world
wars and a tumultuous century, but until the contents are digitized and
copies stored off-site, their collection is still very much at risk.
I have enough information for now -- it's quite a "parade of horribles" as
it stands, so no need to share private information. I would be interested in
details on the public cases you mention below.
Here is the list as it stands, from the last 50 years or so. Some of this
information comes from public sources and some from private emails.
. A flood in a Jugoton (Yugoslavia) pressing plant destroyed metal 78
masters spanning from 1926 to 1959,
. In 1961 an explosion followed by a fire ripped through 20th Century
Fox's New Jersey vault,
. The National Film Board of Canada suffered a vault fire in 1967;
o More than half of the films produced in Canada between 1890
and 1950 were lost
. Also in 1967, a major fire erupted in Vault #7 at
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film studio in Culver City, California,
. A fire at MGM's Hollywood, California warehouse in 1972 devastated
unreleased musical materials,
. In 1978 a fire in a storage facility in Long Branch, N.J. destroyed
virtually all of Atlantic Record's unreleased masters and other materials
. In the 1980s, multiple floods hit the PolyGram tape vaults in White
Plains, New York,
. A fire in 1993 at the Henderson Film Lab in London destroyed Ealing
Studios comedies and other materials,
. In 2008, a fire on the Universal backlot in Los Angeles burned
thousands of videos and reels;
o Among the lost materials were masters from the Universal
Music Group, US Decca, MCA, Command, Impulse, Kapp and Chess.
. In 2010 a flood in Nashville damaged tape and photo archive
materials at the Grand Ole Opry.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Haley
Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2015 3:41 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives
It is good to keep in mind that at least some of the warehouse fires in
question had to have been "insurance fires." For a company in financial
distress, with a warehouse full of old material just sitting around,
generating no income and costing for upkeep, a nice insurance fire to
generate some fast cash could look fairly attractive, helping the old bottom
line. Its hard to prove the arson if carefully carried out, and
with nitrate film, well who would even bother to investigate. As an old
insurance lawyer in a prior life, I remain suspicious.
On Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 2:13 PM, Peter Brothers <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Before replying with specific details, might I ask what the intent is
> in collecting the list of disasters? We are a tape restoration and
> re-mastering laboratory that is very well known for our disaster
> recovery services. As such, we have a significant list of recent
> (since 1983) disasters but are hesitant to release some of the
> information without an indication of what the data will be used for.
> Major archive disasters such as ABC(flood), MTV (fire and flood at
> different locations at different times), SONY (flood at different
> locations at different times), ZOMBA (flood), the CBC (flood), The Grand
Ole Opry (flood), Prague (flood), etc.
> are not a problem but there have been a large number of disasters at
> smaller archives or at facilities holding archival materials that are
> a little more "confidential".
> While we do hear about fires, we probably get 20 flood inquiries per
> every fire inquiry. While some fires leave tapes contaminated with
> soot and debris that can be decontaminated, too often fire destroys the
> It is a lot easier to restore tapes that have been under water than
> tapes that have burned up into little lumps of "charcoal".
> Peter Brothers
> SPECS BROS., LLC
> [log in to unmask]
> Tape restoration, disaster recovery and re-mastering since 1983
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Joel Bresler
> Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 7:51 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives
> Dear Friends:
> I would like to assemble a short list of disasters (and
> near-disasters) that have befallen multimedia archives. Any help
> building a short list would be much appreciated. To get us started:
> MGM and Atlantic labels lost holdings in a fire In 1996 a movie lot
> fire almost demolished the MCA audio archive RCA bulldozed a warehouse
> in Camden, NJ in the 1960s, with master recordings and other materials
> still inside
> (These examples from: "Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have
> Destroyed Our Cultural Rights" by Bill Ivey
> Destruction of Odeon masters at the end of WWII.
> Thanks in advance,
> Joel Bresler
> 250 E. Emerson Road
> Lexington, MA 02420
> United States
> 1-781-862-4104 (Telephone & FAX)
> [log in to unmask]
> IN CASE OF VERIZON EMAIL PROBLEMS, PLEASE USE MY BACK-UP EMAIL: