Master tape collection for sale: ‘The Margate Masters’ – deadline 30 September!

Margate tapes on shelf

If you want to cut to the chase on this one, feel free to go ahead and scroll down. But if you have a couple of minutes for a short ramble, walk this way…

This is a story that began a few years ago. For those of us who like things specific, it was October 2018.

I was searching eBay for the elusive holy grail of master tapes when I stumbled upon a seller who was selling what certainly looked like genuine masters – production masters to be precise.

So I dived in and bought around a dozen tapes: some Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson, Petula Clark, Lulu to name just a few. Many of them needed baking, which was no great surprise. As was typical for the era, they were recorded onto Ampex 456 which is probably the worst ‘sticky shed’ offender. Still, it was a delight to get my hands on some genuine master tapes, to practise my skills in baking them (which improved greatly as a result), and then to experiment with Dolby A decoding, Dolby decoding and making my own new ‘safety’ copies. Hours of pure fun for this tape-head!

I got chatting about it all with my friend Petronel Butuc of The Audiophiles Clinic. He was very interested and so we both ended up in conversation with the eBay seller who reported that he had ‘around 1,000’ tapes in total which he was selling off bit by bit. My eyes and ears were just about popping out of my head at this point, and between us, Petronel and I decided (probably over a few drinks!) that we should make a deal to buy the whole lot. So, a day trip to sunny Margate, where the seller was based, was quickly arranged… (for readers outside the UK, Margate is a seaside town on the south-east coast of England).

We met the seller and discovered that he’d bought the tapes from an ex-record company owner who’d sold his label’s entire tape archive following a divorce!  The tapes were from a variety of sources and had been sent to him from various well-known studios from all around the world. In the bunch that I’d already bought I’d spotted tapes from CBS, EMI/Abbey Road, Pye, Tape One and even some from Nashville.

Car full from Margate

Anyway, long story short, we did a deal and then spent the rest of the day loading my and Petronel’s cars to the roof line, before heading back to Petronel’s place to store them all securely in his garage.

The plan was to work our way through them, baking those that needed it and making ‘safety’ copies of all of the best stuff, while selling off the less desirable material for ‘parts’ ie. the empty reels and boxes.

Then two things got in the way: both Petronel and I, at different points, hit a bit of a health crisis that laid us low for a while, and then the Covid pandemic came along and scuppered pretty much everything for everybody. Now here we are four years on and sadly neither of us has the time to work on our grand project and Petronel really needs his garage space back! So, over to you…

Cutting to the chase: the big sale

We’re putting up the whole collection of tapes for sale.

We want to sell them all as one single lot – otherwise any other way would defeat the purpose of saving time and making space (sorry!).

There are approximately 840 x ¼” reels and 16 x ½” reels. We figure that even if you sold them off at just £5 per reel then that would be a bargain price for empty metal reels (and boxes), which would make you more than £4,000, so we’re going to offer the whole collection for the best offer over £2,000.

How is this going to work?

Well, first up we should say that this is a collection-in-person situation only from Kent, UK, we’re not offering shipping, so please don’t bid if you can’t collect from Kent before mid-October.

If you’re interested, please email or phone Petronel Butuc at the Audiophiles Clinic (using the contact details below) to arrange a viewing or make an offer:

Petronel Butuc

07795 845 403

We will then sell the collection to the best offer received by the closing date of Friday 30th September.

Thanks and happy bidding / good luck!