Almost all aspects of recorded music can form the basis of an interesting hobby, but none more so than collecting gramophone needle tins. These come in variety of shapes and sizes and can readily be bought at antique fairs and on internet auction sites ranging in price from just a couple of pounds up to several hundred pounds, and can also quite regularly be found inside gramophones that are being offered for sale.
The market for steel needles was vast as the majority were designed to be used only once before being replaced, so an average sized tin of 200 wouldn’t last too long. Consequently needles were produced in hugh quantities by manufacturers in Great Britain and Germany and there were popular brands which represented the makers of machines such as Columbia, Decca and HMV together with record labels such as Regal. There were also makes like Songster and Embassy which were needle brands in their own right and each of these would be available in a range of thickness (soft, medium or loud), various different designs and, quite often, different colours. For advertising purposes it was also common for dealers to have tins produced with their own name and details on the underside so, as you can imagine, the scope for variation in needle tins is huge with some collections running into 100’s or even 1000’s of examples!
I don’t fall into that category and I don’t pretend to be in any way expert (or even vaguely knowledgeable) about which tins are rare, collectable or valuable – I merely buy tins that I like the look of, when I find them, where I find them, and when the price is cheap enough.