"You had me at that 1922 Oakland Chamber of Commerce record!" - I told the curator MAC upon first glancing the above historic record oddity - a free phonograph record issued by the East Bay City's Chamber of Commerce back in the 1920's to encourage residents from nearby San Francisco as well as other faraway locations to relocate to Oakland, CA "where California's promise is Fulfilled." This rare record was one of approximately 200 equally engaging and odd discs on exhibit during the recent WFMU Record Fair in New York City.
The exhibit, that any record collector would be spellbound by, was curated by Michael "MAC" Cumella - a WFMU DJ whose weekly Antique Phonograph Music Program specializes in antique phonographs and who is an ever knowledgeable historian and collector of records since their inception right up to to the present (MAC also possesses an impressive collection of vintage cylinders and antique phonograph players).
This recent exhibit, entitled MAC's Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records, featured records ranging in all sizes (some as small as 1") and spanning a full century. Over the three day WFMU Record Fair, that took place at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street in Manhattan last weekend, the DJ/historian gave guided tour sessions/discussion on his odd records collection (mostly non music) and the 100 year history of the flexi-disc / ephemeral record and its many applications.
During these sessions he would frequently take records off the display wall and pop them on his portable turntable to give an idea of what they were all about between offering some wonderful insights into the history of this medium. For example, he talked to one group who gathered to view the exhibit, about how Bing Crosby set up his own company to manufacture flexi discs. Many of the records on display were made by manufacturers and sent out to wholesalers and retailers to get them to pre-order new products to the marketplace. Others were geared directly at consumers and were part of magazines ads where readers would cut them out to play on their phonograph players. Many on display were postcards while others were cut out records, geared towards kids, on the backs of cereal boxes.
Below are a select few of the ones that I personally was drawn towards (scroll the icon over individual pictures to red more background information on each record) that include records that doubled as the lids for both cottage cheese tub and fried chicken bucket containers. Also below is a brief video interview with MAC talking about the content of his exhibit.