It’s an audiophile's dream. A huge auction of vintage BBC equipment and thousands of rare vinyl records from the corporation’s vast century-old archive is to take place on January 30.
Omega Auctions, based in Cheshire, UK, announced the sale on their social media channels.
“BBC Collection Sale is live!” they posted on X (formerly known as Twitter). “We spent a productive few days in London late last year clearing out many (many) 000s of LPs from the BBC's archive at Perivale. Auction #1 takes place on 30th January - 9am.
“This does not constitute the entirety of the BBC’s vinyl archive which is very much still intact. This is largely the duplicate copies of LPs – so that collection can be moved and better stored for the future.”
The family-run auction house, described as “one of the top auction houses worldwide for music memorabilia and vinyl records” were granted exclusive access to the BBC archives – and have uncovered an Aladdin’s Cave of memorabilia and vintage vinyl.
The 421 lots currently attracting bids in the first auction, scheduled for January 30, include many curiosities and vintage equipment from the BBC’s 102-year history. Among them are an original 1970s “On Air” lightbox, antique microphones and a stopwatch, and a West German-made Saba Lindau radio dating from the mid-twentieth century.
Of most interest to vinyl hoarders, however, is the huge collection of original LPs on offer – most of which are being offered as bundles of as much as dozens at a time.
Among the highlights are the “Punk/Indie Pack” of 10 albums including Big Star’s Radio City, the New York Dolls’ Too Much Too Soon, the Ramones’ End of the Century and The Stone Roses’ debut LP. The original estimate for that pack was £100 - £150; at the time of writing bidding had already reached £240.
Other highlights include what the auction house describes as: “A curious selection of 6 LP copies of Please Please Me by The Beatles, varying pressings” – current highest bid £260 – and a collection of 18 Stax Records LPs including The Dramatics, Kim Weston, Freddy Robinson and Mavis Staples, “largely in clean VG+ to Ex+/archive condition” which at the time of writing had already reached its estimate of £120.
All the record sleeves contain archival stickers from the BBC, marked “Please return promptly”, and showing when the albums had been retrieved from the archive to be played on the radio – and in some cases, the names of the DJs or producers who had requested them.
Omega Auctions has previously held high-profile sales of equipment and memorabilia from New Order's Peter Hook, the Beatles, the Clash, Radiohead and David Bowie. In 2022 their auction of Bowie's original hand-written lyrics for "Starman" sold for £165,000.
Further auctions from the BBC archive are expected later in the year. To view the collection and register to place bids, visit the Omega Auctions site here.