every kind of record, there is a collector. The growing scarcity and fragility
of vinyl makes record collecting not only an addictive challenge but also
a mission to preserve. And one of the most scarce and most fragile types
of records is the flexi disc. Cheaply made and usually considered disposable,
the flexi disc was a record of thin plastic or coated paper that could
be found on anything from cereal boxes to postcards. Rather than convey
high-fidelity music, they were meant as novelties or as advertisements.
Michael Cumella, a 38-year-old video editor in New York City, has placed
his sizable collection online at The
Internet Museum of Flexi/Cardboard/Oddity Records. While he includes
the expected "cover" art from the discs, Cumella has also posted their
recordings, which provide an interesting aural history of American pop-culture.
and why were the first flex idiscs created?
in the mid-teens the first celluloid discs appeared stapled to small post
cards. A shellac-like disc applied to a post card also was another early
type in the late teens. They were created as a cheap way to get messages
out and as a novelty item.
were some of their different uses?
political campaigning, contests, toys, greetings, music, promotions, etc.
there any flexi disc "classics"?
Or how about ultimate collectibles?
don't know how one can be a classic in such an obscure area. The ultimate
collectible is a Disney record affixed to an uncut Wheaties cereal
box circa 1955ish.
you collect "regular" records before focusing on flexi discs?
are an outgrowth of over 25 years of record collecting. I also have a
collection of LPs, 45s, 78s and cylinder records.
was your first flexidisc?
Archies from a cereal box as a child. Looking back, a defining moment
in my life.
did you decide to focus on collecting them in particular?
are a wide range of direct uses which now make the surviving examples
the only testament to these productions. They are usually cheap, surprising,
always show up, and you can never collect or see them all.
good stories about record hunting expeditions?
What was your best "score"?
into a deep box under an obscure table at a flea market, I pulled out
a box that contained two folded handkerchiefs in a clear plastic box that
has a German yodel embossed into the top. I believe it was divine intervention.
the oddest flexi disc in your collection?
flexi disc promoting the concept of flexi discs!
there many flexidisc collectors out there?
know of a handful but I get lots of inquiries. Every record collector
has a few.
expensive can these records get?
have seen early, rare post cards go for more that $300. on eBay.
you collect contemporary flexidiscs?
really. I don't really collect for content. It is more about "the pitch"
or graphic design. If it is just around black thing, I probably don't
kinds of reactions have you gotten to the website?
come to it from very different places. Some one may be looking for info
about a toy they had which came with a flexi enclosed while another may
be doing a information search about a product that lead them to a recording
on my site. Others may remember a recording they encountered in the past
and found it there. Folks like to browse around and are amazed at the
range of examples.
people offer you their records?
yes. I get folks wanting to give and sell me stuff, which is the way I
get most of my new stuff. A guy who used to work in one of the factories
sent me a giant box of unused stuff he had been saving. It was fantastic!
new plans for the site?
to keep doing the same thing.
of a cool pop culture website? Tell us all about