Beyond Vinyl: Cassingles, demo tapes get a second wind

By Susan Sliwicki
Plus, Depeche Mode watch auction raises money for charity
Sure, you may be all about the vinyl these days, but chances are there was a time when cassettes rocked your world.

And there’s nothing like finding out someone paid $688 for one cassette in an online auction to make you re-think whether you should’ve tossed yours out. But, this wasn’t just any old mix tape. This was Dead’s personal copy of Morbid’s December Moon demo tape, which was sent to Jon “Metalion” Kristiansen for inclusion in an early issue of Slayer magazine, according to the seller’s description.

A “rare and out of print” cassette of It’s All Part of the Game by Black Hole Posse brought $335 at auction. According to the seller, this was BHP’s third album, and it was a tape-only release.

Described as the “holy grail of tapes,” a copy of Metallica’s No Life ’Til Leather demo tape sold in an online auction for $307. The cassette includes “Hit the Lights,” “Motorbreath” and “Jump in the Fire.”

A set of seven Gwar Slave Pit cassette singles and a bonus demo tape titled The World According to Gwar brought $276.98 at an online auction. The songs were released exclusively to fan club members in 1997 but never made it onto any Gwar records “not because it wasn’t good enough, but because it was too weird,” the seller said.

Let’s fast-forward to our last highlight: a Venom ultra-rare demo highlights cassette (NEAT-C2002) from the 1986 USA tour. This copy was purchased in March 1986, when Venom was touring to support its Possessed record, according to the seller. It sold for $257. Tracks include “Black Christmas” and “Love Amongst the Dead.”

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Depeche Mode has teamed up with Swiss watchmaker Hublot, Geneva auction house Patrizzi & Co and LiveAuctioneers.com to produce an Internet-only auction fundraiser to benefit Britain’s Teenage Cancer Trust.

A dozen Hublot timepieces, each featuring artwork from one of the band’s 12 studio albums on its face, are up for bid. A themed presentation box accompanies each watch and contains a deluxe vinyl version of the album that inspired the design; a USB key containing a digital edition of that album and a documentary about its making; an original album artwork print; a framed gold CD; and a photograph signed by group members.

Bidding ends Feb. 24, 2010. Proceeds will be presented to the trust on Feb. 26, at a concert of Depeche Mode’s “Sounds of the Universe” tour in Germany.

The starting bid for each watch is 18,000 Swiss Francs (roughly $16,646.63 U.S.). Each watch carries an estimated sale price of estimated 1 million Swiss Francs (about $924,812.58 U.S.), according to the site.

To check out the fully illustrated electronic catalog or place a bid online, visit http://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/20622.

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Beatles collectors are willing to part with big bucks to score their memorabilia of choice. Here are some recent online auction highlights featuring The Fab 4.

A Beatles signed/autograph vintage photograph, featuring signatures of John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, sold for $1,986.53.

A limited-edition copy of the book “Songs by George Harrison,” autographed by Harrison, sold for $1,875. A CD containing four previously unreleased song tracks came with the book, which was produced by Genesis Publications in 1987 and is numbered 1777 out of 2,500.

A set of four original portrait photos of The Beatles — one of each Beatle — sold for $1,468.89. These iconic 8” x 10” psychedelic photos were taken by Richard Avedon in 1967 and reprinted by Avedon for magazine publication in the 1970s. Final price: $1,468.89.

The Marvel comic book “Strange Tales No. 130,” which featured the story of The Human Torch and The Thing meeting The Beatles, sold for $653. The book had a CGC rating of 9.2, and its cover art features both Torch and Thing with mop-top hairdos.

Here’s one of those unexpected combinations: a picture of The Beatles with Muhammad Ali, taken in Miami Beach, Fla., in February 1964. The Fab Four connected with Ali at a Miami Beach gym, prior to his fight with Sonny Liston. It shows The Champ standing over The Lads from Liverpool and is signed “Cassius Clay.” Final price: $995.

Last but not least is a group of “Yellow Submarine” collectibles, which sold for $650. The collection included all four of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” Polar Lights figures; diecast Corgi Beatles bus; Beatles cartoon bank; “Yellow Submarine” model sub; a “Yellow Submarine” musical water globe; a “Yellow Submarine” inflatable chair and a “Yellow Submarine” rotating lamp.

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A bronze statue of “The Boss” was the top entertainment-related seller in Collect.com Auctions’ Sports & Americana Internet Auction  No. 1.

The bonded bronze sculpture by artist C. Brown depicts Springsteen performing, his guitar raised. The 15-pound sculpture was created in 2005, and is mounted on a black alabaster base. The final bid, including buyer’s premium, was $3,159.

The auction, which closed Jan. 10, 2010, posted total sales of $40,770 in a variety of interest areas, including Americana, sports memorabilia, antiques and toys.

A group of seven signed items from guitar pioneer Les Paul included two black pickguards, a menu from the Iridium Jazz Club, a signed cover for the three-record set Les Paul and Mary Ford: Their All-Time Greatest Hits! and all three of the records inside the set. The final bid, including buyer’s premium, was $357.

Four signed Chuck Berry albums — Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Goode, The Best of The Best of Chuck Berry and Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade — brought $293, including the buyer’s premium.

The house’s next event, Sports Auction No. 4, will close on April 8. Another Internet auction is slated for May. Anyone interested in consigning can call 888-463-3063 or visit http://www.collect.com/auctions.

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