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The world’s biggest collection

In some respects Zero Fretas is just like any other obsessive record collector.

He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

He has a beard.

But in other ways Fretas is very different.

Largely because he’s one of the richest men in Brazil – and he cannot stop buying records.

Fretas owns the world's biggest record collection

Fretas owns the world’s biggest record collection

He is the owner of the world’s biggest record collection.

In fact it’s the world’s biggest collection, period.

No one is able to put an exact number on it, but cautious estimates place it somewhere in the region of several million.

At present, he employs a host of people to catalogue it – a task that is expected to take around 20 years to complete.

It’s breathtakingly eclectic.

It includes a copy of almost every record ever pressed in Cuba (around 100,000) and a set of 15,000 polka albums.

While many of his records are unique, around 30% are duplicates. He owns 1,793 copies of the first album he ever bought, Roberto Carlos Sings to the Children.

His mission? To own a copy of every record ever produced.

Fretas is certainly not alone.

The Sultan of Brunei, for instance, owns the world’s largest collection of cars – around 7,000 in total.

That’s an astronomical number, particularly when you take into account that we’re talking Ferrari Berlinettas and Lamborghini Diablos rather than Ford Fiestas and Nissan Micras.

At the weirder end of the scale we have Danny Fleming from Grimsby, who owns a collection of 105 pairs of bagpipes.

There is something awe inspiring about a truly vast collection and the same urge, whether or not it takes on this epic scale, is something that drives all collectors.

We can all relate to that heart-pounding moment when you come across the one thing that you’ve been looking for and equally, the satisfaction that a collection brings.

Tom

Collectors gear up for Elvis auction

A major sale of artefacts from the life of Elvis Presley is due to take place at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tennessee later today. The auction consists of 72 lots and includes everything from his marriage certificate to his front door keys.

Ahead of the event, let’s take a brief look at some of the most interesting lots.

Early signature

The signature is one of the  earliest known examples

The signature is one of the earliest known examples

Elvis signed this library card in 1947 when he was in 7th grade. During that year he was beginning to gain recognition for his singing and performed twice on local personality Mississippi Slim’s radio show.

The piece is one of the earliest known examples of Elvis’ signature, meaning its likely to attract a high degree of interest from collectors.

Shooting target

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis was an avid gun collector

Elvis had an enormous collection of guns. After a number of death threats he carried one on his person at all times, even while he was on stage.

His penchant for firing at the TV whenever singer and longtime rival Robert Goulet appeared onscreen in the stuff of legend.

This target was set up in his smokehouse in the grounds of Graceland, which he used as a shooting range.

Marriage certificate

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

Elvis and Priscilla married in Las Vegas

This marriage certificate records Elvis’ wedding to Priscilla in Las Vegas in 1967. The couple spent a total of eight minutes in the chapel before jetting off for their honeymoon.

Ironically it was sent back to the marriage office stamped “return to sender” and was kept by one of the clerks, who sold it at auction in the mid 90s.

Keys

These keys were used in the couple's honeymoon

These keys were used in the couple’s honeymoon

This set of keys for Elvis’ holiday home in Palm Springs, California were taken on his honeymoon with Priscilla. The couple spent a couple of days in the luxury apartment before flying on to Memphis.

A Los Angeles Police Department keyring is a nice touch. Alongside his gun obsession, Elvis was an avid collector of police badges.

by Tom

An axe to die for – guitars at auction this December

Drummers, I’m sorry to say this, but in the grand scheme of things…nobody cares.

You’re instrument may be the glue that holds a band together, but when it comes to fan favourites, you’re last on the list.

I guess you all ready knew that; it’s an old adage that’s been bandied around since man first began hitting things with sticks.

Bassists, likewise. In the eyes of the adoring crowds, you are the drummer’s girlfriend, or a failed guitarist. Unless you have virtuosic slap-bass skills, you can take your place in that dark area at the back of the stage.

I’m sorry to bring you these truths. Even Paul McCartney – writer of some of the best-known bass lines in history – didn’t want to be a bassist.

Regardless of talent, we all know that it’s the guitarist that’s the coolest member of almost any band – next to the singer, that is. If you happen to do both, you’ve reached the pinnacle of performing prowess.

Its why guitars, signed or not, are some of the most sought after instruments by collectors. Everyone remembers Hendrix’s white Stratocaster, but can you remember the bass that Noel Redding was playing beside him at Woodstock? Thought not.

The double-necked Gibson played by Jimmy Page is something of rock legend, but Jon Paul Jones’ bass? Not a clue.

In December, the auction world will be hit with an influx of guitars played by the top axe-wielding heroes.

The most important of these is the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan controversially played at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Dylan's use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

Dylan’s use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

The guitar is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of music memorabilia, marking a pivotal moment in the career of perhaps the most celebrated songwriter of all time.

Also selling is Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, a custom made 1982 Kramer that was used throughout the 1982-1983 Diver Down Tour, and bears the scars of 1980s rock n’ roll excess to prove it. Instantly recognisable to anyone that plays, the Frankenstrat is nothing less than an icon.

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

With Deadheads still as dedicated to the California psych-rockers as ever, two almost identical guitars from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia will appear at Bonhams and Julien’s Auctions just days apart from each other.

The guitar features a sticker that read, "There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert".

The guitar features a sticker that read, “There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”.

Garcia’s guitars are legendary, and there are no shortage of them to keep collectors interested. The two best-known examples, nicknamed Tiger and Wolf, sold for $957,500 and $789,500 respectively in 2002.

Comparatively, Ginger Baker’s drum kit, a fantastic piece from one of the top-rated and best loved drummers of all time, is valued at just $24,166-32,222 in the Bonhams auction. Sorry drummers, its nothing personal.

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Completing the line-up of axes at auction this December is Elvis’ limited edition NBN acoustic guitar, which is selling for more than $50,000 at Heritage auctions.

Yet it looks like I spoke to soon on the bassist’s behalf…

One of Paul McCartney’s trademark Hofner basses is  also coming to auction with an estimate of $150,000-200,000; far more than most I’ve listed already.

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney's trademark instrument, yet there's no proof he ever played this example

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney’s trademark instrument, yet there’s no proof he ever played this example

But don’t get your hopes up just yet bassists, you’ve a lot of catching up to do before you can compete with a Beatle! On the plus side, whether drummer or bassist you are likely to be less egotistical and likely to live for longer than your limelight-loving guitarist – at least you can take comfort in that.

See our music memorabilia for sale, and take a look at our top five electric guitars at auction list.

Joe

PS, if any readers fancy buying me one of the these for Christmas, in thanks for my fascinating posts, I’ll take the Dylan Strat or Elvis Acoustic! Thanks!

Surf’s Up – 50 years on

This weekend is a big one.

There’s a royal baby on the way, it’s the anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landings, and, for 60s music lovers like myself, tomorrow marks 50 years since the first surfing song hit number one in the US charts.

Surfing song? Must be the Beach Boys, right?

Well, not quite.

Two young college kids from California named Jan and Dean.

Their Surf City stayed at the top spot for two weeks in the summer of 63, inspiring a generation and propelling surf music into the spotlight.

Jan and Dean

Jan and Dean – ready to hit the beach

So, was Surf City the inspiration for the Beach Boys?

Not quite.

The band’s Brian Wilson actually wrote the tune and first line: “Two girls for every boy”, and gave it to the duo, who had been angling to record Wilson’s Surfin’ Safari, which had reached number 14 a year earlier.

Surf City transformed Jan and Dean’s fortunes as they proceeded to record a string of surf-inspired Top 10s. Today their names are synonymous with sand, surf, carefree summers and good times.

Take a look at this Jan and Dean-signed photo we have in stock.

Dan

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