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Sworders to sell Essex man's collection of every No 1 single over 40-year period

Record collector Tim Claydon (13077155)
Record collector Tim Claydon (13077155)

Stansted Mountfitchet auctioneer Sworders is to offer the ultimate jukebox collection as part of its inaugural pop culture sale.

Headlining the sale titled "Into the Groove, 1950-1975" is a lot comprising every single No 1 hit single from 1952 to 1992 – that's 684 in total – from the golden age of vinyl.

The unique collection, which represents a lifetime's work for its Essex seller, is expected to fetch at least £20,000 and possibly up to £30,000.

Until well into the post-Second World War era, the ‘popular music charts’ reflected the sale of both sheet music and shellac 78rpm records. All that changed in November 1952, when music paper the New Musical Express (NME) published the very first singles chart made up of purely record sales. The first ever ‘number one’ was Here in My Heart by Al Martino.

Most of those early bestsellers were reflective of the tastes of an older generation – crooners such as Perry Como, Guy Mitchell and Frankie Laine – but in the creation of ‘the hit parade’ there was the seeds of a teenage revolution.

With the arrival of the jukebox-friendly 45rpm or 7-inch single (the first No 1 to be available on 45 was Cara Mia by David Whitfield, released on the Decca label in July 1954) pop culture began to change.

In November 1955, Bill Haley and his Comets made number one with Rock around the Clock while July 1957 saw a young man called Elvis Presley hit the top spot for the first of 17 times with All Shook Up.

For vendor Tim Claydon, finding an original copy of every one of the 684 bestsellers between 1952 and a format change in 1992 has been a 44-year odyssey.

He said: “My collection was fuelled by my grandmother taking me, in 1963 as a three-year-old, into Woolworths in Maldon High Street to buy my very first single.”

He chose She Loves You by The Beatles, the bestselling single of the 1960s and the second of the Fab Four’s 11 consecutive chart toppers.

Tim recalls: “As a young child I played my parents' discs on our little record player, some 78s and some 45s. If not listening to those over and over again, I would be listening to Radio Caroline or Radio Luxembourg on our transistor radio.”

These were the years when a large part of the population sat at home on a Sunday evening to hear the weekly countdown of the top 20 bestselling songs.

The collection includes the first ever picture sleeve (Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix), the first 12-inch single (Boney M's Rivers of Babylon), the first ever picture disc number one (Are 'Friends' Electric? by Tubeway Army) and the first coloured vinyl (Message in a Bottle by The Police).

The last and 684th song in this collection is I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. It sat at the top for 10 weeks before new-format charts, that included cassette tapes, CDs and now of course downloads, were devised.

Sworders' inaugural pop culture sale, "Into the Groove, 1950-1975", will take place at its Cambridge Road showroom in Stansted on July 7.

A spokeswoman said: "This auction for the TV generation will broaden collecting horizons beyond the thriving market for rock and pop collectables to embrace the design, fashions, ideas and memorabilia of the immediate post-war era."

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