An Introduction To Vinyl, Acetate and Shellac

April 11, 2009

This website is designed to help the avid collector and archival professional alike identify, maintain and preserve audio recordings for personal enjoyment and future generations. While many of these records are commercially available, they may one day end up in a museum or archives, and there are also countless rare and one-of-a-kind recordings that need some TLC if they are going to survive further into the 21st century.

spiral-scratch

Ever since the first commercially available recording material became available in 1885, the process of capturing sound for later listens has always been a tricky proposition — it is literally making something out of nothing: inscribing a “spiral scratch” on a round disc. Couple this notion with the fact that early recording media were not designed with long-term preservation in mind, and sound archives are lucky they have any items in their care.

vinyl-stack-webbed1

A not-recommended storage method

While there are numerous recording media that an archivist need know how to preserve — wire recordings, wax cylinders, piano rolls, reel-to-reel magnetic tape, 8-track, compact disc, etc., — this site is concerned with the proper care and handling of analog disc recordings: shellac, acetate and vinyl, the earliest of which debuted in 1898 and continue to be produced to this day.

Stephen Haag, LIS 439

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