Granddad leaves behind treasure trove of 80,000 records, believed to be Australia’s biggest collection
What is thought to be Australia’s biggest record collection is up for grabs.
The collection belonged to Gold Coast grandfather, Ken Perkins, who left behind a treasure trove of more than 80,000 records after his death.
Mr Perkins spent more than 50 years building the archive, which would take more than six-and-a-half years to listen to in its entirety.
“If anyone knew my dad, they would know he had this little black book,” his daughter Natalie Perkins said.
Ken Perkins worked in the mining industry which was very ordered and consisted of lists and catalogues, also evident in his collection. (ABC Gold Coast: Lucy Murray)
“He would pull it out of his little jacket pocket and he had just the catalogue numbers of the missing pieces, the gems he was looking for.”
Ms Perkins has been left with the mammoth task of clearing out his crowded house.
Natalie Perkins inherited her dad’s record collection, but not his love of blues. (ABC Gold Coast: Lucy Murray)
“Just walking into the collection is overwhelming in itself, let alone trying to catalogue it,” she said.
“We did try and prod Dad to give us some sort of instructions, we knew that the day would come he would pass away and this collection would be left to my sister and I.
“But he never saw this collection going in his lifetime, he wasn’t interested in selling it, he didn’t collect for anyone else bar himself.”
Notes from beyond the grave
Ms Perkins was not left completely in the dark, however.
The ever-meticulous collector left notes for her inside the covers of his favourite albums.
“He has slipped handwritten notes into the a few of the sleeves, just indicating what they may be worth,” she said.
“The first one I found was just so exciting, it was beautiful.
“With something like this you’re looking for a sign and I just took that. It was a sign.”
What is the collection worth?
The vinyl collection is thought to be the biggest in Australia.
Modern antiques expert Dr Daryl Sparkes said he was blown away by the size of the collection.
“It is one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life actually,” he said.
“I would have to say this is the most impressive and largest collection I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of collections.”
Dr Sparkes said all the records were in perfect condition, which was surprising as some of the 78s were more than 100 years old.
“It says to me the person who was collecting these went beyond just being passionate about his collection, he was treating these albums like they were his own children,” he said.
The collection was Mr Perkins’ life’s work and his daughter said she had no idea how much he spent putting it all together.
“Dad was from the UK originally and he was very tight-lipped about things like money,” she said.
“So I don’t know how much over the 50-odd years he would have invested into this collection, but I’m assuming it was quite a bit.”
Dr Sparkes said pricing the records won’t be easy.
“You would have to go through each individual album and rate them for quality and also for rareness and then you’d be able to work out a price,” he said.
“I found some Elvis stuff, I’ve found some really rare Johnny Cash and people will fall over themselves for some of that stuff.”
“I would hate to guesstimate, but it could be anywhere up to a million dollars.”
Dr Daryl Sparkes said looking through the records was awe-inspiring. (ABC Gold Coast: Lucy Murray)
Is there a buyer?
Mr Perkins’ collection spanned several genres, unlike many collectors who stuck to a niche, like an era or specific type of music.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see another collection like this in your entire life,” Dr Sparkes said.
If it is to be sold, the collection would likely be split up.
“There is jazz here, there is blues here, there’s surf music, there is ’50s rock and not all collectors collect all of that,” Dr Sparkes said.
“They will just collect a small niche area — it would be easier to sell it in sections rather than all in one go.”
Natalie Perkins would like to see her dad’s collection kept together, rather than cherry picked by collectors. (ABC Gold Coast: Lucy Murray)
But the Perkins family would love to see the lifetime of music kept together and not cherry-picked by different collectors.
“We believe it does have cultural significance and historic significance,” Ms Perkins said.
“So we would love to see it move onto someone else — the right person.”
Dr Sparks agreed.
“It is a cultural treasure, it probably needs to go into a museum or The National Film and Sound Archives,” he said.
“Someone at a governmental level needs to take control of this collection as it is a national treasure.”
While Ms Perkins waits for a buyer, she has created an Instagram account, The Ken Perkins Collection, dedicated to the gems in this haystack.