Last week I saw a post from redditor bsparks who found The Franklin Mint’s 100 Greatest Recordings of All Time at his local Half Price Books at a great price. He evidently lugged home all 100 discs (nearly 150 pounds of wax) and spent the next year taking them in, one disc at a time.
If there’s one thing at which The Mint excels, it is deluxe packaging. bsparks kindly offers a gallery exploring the collection in great detail.
From the official text:
The 100 Greatest Recordings of all time from the Franklin Mint has been called the ultimate private library of fine recorded music. Every recording was selected by a distinguished panel of music authorities (Martin Bookspan, Schuyler G. Chapin, Franco Ferrara, Irving Kolodin, William Mann, R. Gallois Montbrun, Marcel Prawy, Andre Previn, William Schuman and H. H. Stuckenschmidt).
The library was first announced on the 100th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph. Each recorded treasure was pressed with a special vinyl formulation that enabled a clear, quiet playing surface on a more rigid LP disk. Every record was pressed in an atmosphere controlled “clean room.” There are 50 library cases. Each library case houses two proof-quality long playing records, with each record resting, fully protected, within its own dust free compartment. The record is firmly supported within the closed compartment in such a way that the grooved playing surface never touches any part of the case. Each library case includes a specially written and illustrated commentary, by a respected music expert. The composers and their works are discussed in detail, and background information is provided on the orchestras, conductors, ensembles, and featured soloists. This is a truly unsurpassed private library of recorded music.”
As an archivist, I was instantly intrigued by this mammoth set, though the sheer volume of the beast gave me pause.
Thankfully, I found the next best thing on the Web. Some wonderful, dedicated man or woman took the time to rip all 100 discs to FLAC. Each of the discs were pre-cleaned with wood glue, played on an Empire 598 Turntable with an ADC XLM MKIII cartridge, powered by Bottlehead Seduction and Bottlehead Foreplay Tube Phono Preamps, and expertly ripped to 24 bit / 96 kHzFLAC using GoldWave. The tracks were then ClickRepaired and separated, log files were generated, and the final cuts were meticulously organized and tagged into their respective volume folders.
But perhaps the above-and-beyond effort of the collection was the 672 professional photographs of every center label, every page of each book accompanying each of the 50 volumes, the cross-reference index, the pamphlet and the letter signed by Stanley Walker, Director of the Franklin Mint’s Music Dept.
A standing ovation – this is archival FLAC as it should be!
If you’re not quite up to downloading this 80GB library, there is also a 320VBR available, transcoded from the same source audio at the more manageable size of 17.1GB.
I am going to keep an eye out in the event that an affordable copy of the actual set surfaces within a reasonable distance from my home… because there is no way in hell I’m going pay shipping for this baby.