A thought to add to this. Years ago I bought a 78 rpm record for a  
few coins in order to hear it. It appeared to be in poor condition.  
and played very poorly. After cleaning with detergent and a shaving  
brush, it looked excellent and played very well. I might have retired  
it to the garbage bin if I hadn't cleaned it.

It also might be pointed out that very rare records, today, can be  
processed with audio software, often producing a very good result. A  
cracked record, if it hasn't been played a lot producing damage along  
the crack, or a record with bad needle scratches can often be run  
through audio software removing the clicks that are heard on each  
rotation. A lot of records that were thrown out in the past, today,  
would have new life thanks to the digital revolution.

How the records are played is another factor. Some records that play  
very poorly with a standard size stylus play well with a custom  
stylus of the right size. A friend years ago who issued LPs  from  
rare 78s sometimes copied them to tape played in reverse - from the  
inside to the outside. This sometimes made a considerable difference.

There are examples of unpublished records that are better versions of  
the music than the same titles published. Some appear to be  
unpublished because the singer was too close or too far from the  
horn. Unlike the times when these recordings were made, they play  
well on modern equipment.

Malcolm Smith.

On Aug 6, 2008, at 7:59 AM, Clark Johnsen wrote:

> To my mind there are two types of problem.
> -- Surface blemishes are relatively easy to see and span the range  
> from
> actual cracks and gouges and dimples, to small-area abrasions of
> different depths -- plus fingerprints and mold, never good signs.
> -- Groove wear in a well-handled (or machine-handled) disc can  
> easily escape
> notice until a grayish pall from too much use overtakes the usually  
> hard
> surface of the groove walls. This condition is far less easy to  
> rate in its
> intermediate stages, although a corollary indicator can be the  
> condition of
> the center hole.
> clark
> On Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 2:01 PM, John Ross <[log in to unmask]>  
> wrote:
>> Is there a set of established standards for visual evaluation of  
>> 78 rpm
>> discs? I'm working with the owner of a significant collection to  
>> catalog the
>> discs and ultimately transfer them to digital form. I would like  
>> to include
>> a preliminary note about the apparent condition of  each disc as  
>> part of the
>> preliminary catalog.
>> Obviously, the ultimate evaluation of each disc requires playing  
>> it, but as
>> a first step, I want to go with a visual examination.
>> So I will welcome your pointers to any kind of commonly accepted  
>> terms for
>> describing 78s. Thanks in advance.
>> John Ross