Actually in Madrid, and as far as I know, also in other big cities in
Spain, the love for (second hand) vinyl has never died. Still, this is our
era --for old-record collectors-- and herein and momentarily I want to
align shellacophiles with vinyl collectors...
There are a pretty bunch of shops here around dealing on second hand LPs
and singles of all kinds and eras. The dozen shops I know in Madrid are
alive since I was a teenager and started collecting. I, in fact, started
with vinyl, and switched to 78s when I discovered them on one of the shops
I frequented in search of old vinyl. I then found that these shops did
usually have also 78s for sale. Ones on a steady basis, others only
acquiring lots from time to time. Almost all them are still running.
The other side of the coin is that many of them had quitted selling 78s in
late years. But still four or five continue having a short supply from time
to time. But they're now much scarcer.
Madrid flea market is named "El Rastro". It is a very old tradition, and is
set every Sunday morning in the same district, a dozen streets full of
stalls. There are also many antique shops and goodwill stores in that
district. So it's easy to identify which shops carry 78s steadily, or at
least, occasionally. Stallholders are well known, always the same in the
same places, so it's all also easy for a shellac chaser to center the shot.
From time to time, collections appear for sale, and in those days, stalls
and shops are flooded with shellac. But nowadays, things have changed. 78s
are scarcer. This is a very specific market, and dealers are a small group,
so it's easy to identify when an inheritance has been sold out, with a
collection of 78s, divided into lots, is for some weeks seen around by the
stalls and shops. But now, this happens only from time to time.
I've also noticed in my latest visits that gramophones (mostly portables)
have lowered prices. The most notable I remember, a recent near-mint 101 in
blue, at an antique shop, for a mere $160, which was a real bargain. Pity I
didn't buy it... But I already own two 101s, and the Management at home
would have frowned angrily at the slightest notice of 'yet another one'...
There must be a lack of interest among the public, or there are less
collectors. I'm painfully thinking that 78 collecting, which seemed to us
an eternal hobby, is going to be only a somewhat short living fashion.
Old-record collecting started in the mid-20th century, and it seems that
after three generations, less than a century, it is bounded to languish and
die. Youngsters show some interest, but only archivists and related scholar
people. What will be of our collections when we die? They will study 78s,
transfer them, etc, but they will not ENJOY them, not to say... play
shellac records on aggressive gramophones! Shellac records and cylinders
will become museum pieces, full of 'historic value' but no more accessible
to the public, except in digital form, and impossible to buy, touch, see,
play... and enjoy them. But this is human civilisation!
Resuming the plot, I've also noticed an increase in French shellac products
at our flea market; I suspect there is a tendency among dealers to go
chasing to the south of France, Marseille and the like, directly or through
the web... for fresh supply. Late months there were lots of pathés and
pathephones, also French 78s of other brands, mostly lots of 1930-1950
Anyway, I will continue going there on Sundays and ask for 78s at the usual
places, for showing an interest is vital to maintain the supply. Although I
get a NO answer most of times, others I succeed, for some lots of shellac
still appear. One must always ask...
Another thing I discovered while chasing is the interest of asking for
shellac at unusual places (book dealers, for instance). Sometimes the book
dealers buy complete households for the books alone, and are forced to take
the disc collections altogether. Being records somewhat out of their
specialised scope, they are wanting to sell the records fast, if only to
get rid of them. Most of times when asking at old book stores you'll get a
NO for answer, but sometimes you hear YES, and take with you a real
bargain. To be noted that I also collect classical 78s, and good classical
record libraries used to go alongside good libraries...