20 Jun 2018

Gold Coast grandad's record collection 'a national treasure'

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:32 pm on 20 June 2018

A Gold Coast grandfather has left behind what is thought to be Australia’s biggest record collection. 

A very small portion of Ken Perkins' record collection.

A small portion of Ken Perkins' record collection. Photo: The Ken Perkins Collection / Instagram

Ken Perkins spent almost 50 years building his collection, which is comprised of more than 80,000 records and has been described as a national treasure. 

Modern antiques expert Daryl Sparkes had heard rumours at collectors’ fairs over the years of Perkin’s expansive hoard but never had the opportunity to meet the man himself.

“He was quite a shy and unassuming sort of guy,” Sparkes says. “And I don’t think he let too many people into his inner circle to see his collection.”

When Perkins passed away recently, Sparkes was invited to view the collection.

“I was quite blown away by what I saw,” he says. “I’ve seen some big collections in my time, but this is a two-storey house and every single room of it is full of albums, from floor to ceiling. Even the bathroom and the kitchen.

“I have no idea how he lived, made meals or bathed because there were records everywhere.”

Perkins took great care of his vast collection. Every record was upright, in a plastic sleeve, and catalogued.

He also kept a little black book which held the catalogue numbers of the gems he was still searching for.

“All collectors, like myself, can be a little bit OCD about their collections,” says Sparkes.

Perkins' meticulous cataloguing meant it was relatively easy to establish the breadth and depth of his collection. 

“He had some amazing stuff,” Sparkes says. “Like, really amazing stuff.”

Stand-out items include very early presses of Elvis and Johnny Cash records from the legendary Sun Records studios in Memphis.

There was also a copy of the super rare first single from Buddy Holly, ‘Blue Days, Black Nights’, of which there are only three or four copies in the whole world. It has an estimated value of $30-40,000.

While the collection spans across several genres it's predominately all American music, with a bent towards blues, soul, country, surf, and early rock ‘n’ roll.

Sparkes says he “conservatively” estimates the entire Perkins collection to be worth around AU$1 million.

While roughly 90 percent of the collection is fairly ordinary, Sparkes says the other 10 percent is exceptional.

“There’s some stuff in there that you would spend your whole life trying to find, which he did.”

The collection was left to Perkins’ children who are still deciding exactly what to do with it. 

In the meantime, his daughter Natalie has set up an Instagram account to pay tribute to her dad and share photos of some of the treasure she finds.


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