Still More Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Part 4
So now I had a general sense of the collection but since my original intent was to just look it over and give advice, I had no real sense of whether I would want to buy the collection or even whether they would be interested in selling it to me. So I wasn’t overly excited or enthused as I sat down with Karen and Adam to tell them what I had discovered. I said that it was an amazing collection of music mostly from the bop and post-bop era, that most of the records were reissues or later pressings, but that there were, indeed, some valuable records within the collection. I didn’t say how many valuable records because I had no idea. I then asked Karen if her father had ever talked about the records and what they might be worth and what to do with them after he passed away. She said that she had never really had that discussion with her father, and neither did her brother. She said her father just loved the music and never really considered the records as something of monetary value, just something to treasure and enjoy.
I asked what they wanted to do with the records. She said they – she and her brother – probably wanted to sell them, but the only firm offer they had received was from a local dealer and it wasn’t anything near what they had hoped to get. She said if all they were worth was the price the local dealer offered, they would probably choose to keep them and eventually donate them. I figured the local dealer was Infinity, so I asked: It was, although it wasn’t Joey that looked at the records but one of the young workers in his store. I guessed that the offer was probably about $1 a record, but I didn’t ask directly. Instead, I repeated that there were definitely some valuable records in the collection and the best way to get the best value would be to try to identify the rare records through my Web site at Jazz Collector and then sell those records individually on eBay.
Neither Karen nor her son Adam looked particularly enthused about the idea of poring through each record and trying to figure out if it was collectible and then setting up a site to sell the records one by one on eBay. I watched their reaction and then out of nowhere I heard the following words blurt out of my mouth:
“If you would want to sell the whole collection, I would probably be interested in buying the whole thing.”
I could see right away they were interested. Then, again without thinking, I blurted out a number. It was a number without any real pre-ordained thought, but a number that was fueled by the intoxicating impact of just having held a clean original copy of Sonny’s Crib in my hands for the first time in my life and knowing that with the right number this record could be mine. There were something on the order of 3,000 records in the room and I was offering to buy all of them to get one. It was pure emotion and adrenaline and I was completely winging it at this point.
“Is that a firm number?” Adam asked.
“I think so,” I said.
Then I thought about it for another second.
“You know” I said, “let me look at the records for a few more minutes and I’ll tell you for sure.”
So I went back into the room with the records. I’d forgotten all about Marty the dog, who was still waiting patiently in his carrying bag. I went immediately back to the shelf where Sonny’s Crib and the Coltrane and Miles records were sitting and I started pulling records off the shelf. I looked at each one, checked to make sure the cover was original, pulled out the vinyl, looked at each label, felt to see if there were deep grooves, looked for the appropriate RVGs and ears. I must have pulled out about 40 original pressings. I never even looked at the other two shelves on the other sides of the room to see what was there. I thought to myself, do these 40 records along with the other later pressings Blue Notes and Verves justify the offer I had just made if, worse came to worse, I had to sell them all on eBay? The answer was a definite maybe. But there was Sonny’s Crib and the emotion took hold again and I went back into the other room and told Karen and Adam that, yes, this was a firm offer.
Karen said she was inclined to sell them to me and said she would talk it over with her brother and let me know as soon as possible, probably the next day. I smiled, thanked them both, packed up Marty and left the house thinking to myself: “Did I really do that? Did I really offer to buy this entire collection? What if they say yes? Where will I get the money?”
And then reality set in. The real unavoidable, inevitable, unenviable reality of realities: What would I tell The Lovely Mrs. JC?
Stay tuned for Part 5