Skipping a generation: Vintage record collector to part with family's collection of rare recordings

·3 min read
Jeff Kiss [right} and his daughter Kennedy Kiss stand behind of some of the family's collection of vintage vinyl records in a commercial bay in Leduc, Alta. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)
Jeff Kiss [right} and his daughter Kennedy Kiss stand behind of some of the family's collection of vintage vinyl records in a commercial bay in Leduc, Alta. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

In a commercial bay in Leduc, Alta., which looks more like a museum, Jeff Kiss shows off some of his rare records — including some that have never been played.

It includes Berliner Gramophone records, which were produced in the 1890s, along with cylinder records that are played on a phonograph. The contents on some include opera, speeches, and comedy bits.

"A lot of these are from the infancy of recorded sound. Some of the first commercially produced records ever made," said Kiss.

It's a hobby for Kiss, who works for an electrical service company. His knowledge of some of the early records in the collection is quite extensive. He's added to it over the years, but the assortment was started by his late father Coleman Kiss in 1957.

"He was one of the first gramophone collectors and restorers in Alberta, not specifically a record collector, but with the machines that he worked with often you found records so he didn't want to have a large collection," Kiss said.

"He was very selective on what he would keep when he found recordings."

Watch | Alberta collection of vintage records to be auctioned off

After nearly six decades of the collection being preserved from sunlight in a family home, Kiss is finally ready to part with it.

"As you get older, especially with collectibles, you really realize that you're just a caretaker of them," he said. "They will go on and other people really should have a chance to enjoy them."

Jeff Kiss's collection, which is a family accumulation of more than 60 years, includes vinyl records and cylinders
Jeff Kiss's collection, which is a family accumulation of more than 60 years, includes vinyl records and cylinders(Travis McEwan/CBC)

Nauck's Vintage Records, an international auctioneer of 78 RPM and cylinder records based out of Houston is interested in Kiss's collection.

"He's got recordings from the dawn of recorded sound, both disc and cylinder records, as well as some other things," said Kurt Nauck, the company's owner.

"Those are recordings that we actually specialize in, the really early type of material, things that you don't normally see in most collections, He's got recordings by Emile Berliner made by him. Berliner was basically the originator of the disc phonograph."

Around 30 per cent of their clientele is from outside of North America. Final bids go anywhere from the minimum bid of $3 to $1,000 for one item.

The commercial bay in Leduc where Jeff Kiss shows some of his family's collection of vintage vinyl is also filled with antique record players.
The commercial bay in Leduc where Jeff Kiss shows some of his family's collection of vintage vinyl is also filled with antique record players.(Travis McEwan/CBC)

Kiss doesn't quite know how much the collection might go for, as he's currently cataloging them with his daughter Kennedy Kiss, who is now learning more and more about a hobby that's been a part of her family for nearly 60 years.

"It's just a lot of watching and learning and being a fly on the wall," she said. "So even though the stuff will be gone, all the knowledge I got will stay with me, which is worth it."