Russell Barnes collection to be auctioned in March

The English jazz aficionado accumulated an array of early sound recordings and reproduction equipment, including an early Berliner gramophone

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Examples from a set of 1000+ vinyl records in the Russell Barnes auction

The jazz, opera and equipment collection of Russell Barnes, a close friend of Jazz Journal founder Sinclair Traill, comes up for sale on 1 March 2022 via auction house Sworders. It includes jazz on vinyl, jazz books and several sound reproduction machines including a hand-cranked Berliner dating from c.1890-93. An example of the first record player, it was the machine that its inventor Emile Berliner, a haberdashers clerk in Washington D.C., called “the gramophone”.

The Berliner, lot 14, is expected to make £5,000-10,000. Other machines in the 71-lot sale include various phonographs, among which is an Axton Grand with Horn (estimate £3,000-5,000), and other gramophones. Various equipment accessories are also offered, including horns, cylinders, tonearms and needle tins.

The audio collection contains a good deal of music hall, light music and opera but lot 32 contains V-Discs and lot 33 (P Series – Transcription Discs) includes work by Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Glenn Miller, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Frank Morgan and Johnny Mercer. Lot 58, a collection of more than 1000 jazz, blues and musical records on vinyl, includes Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Bud Freeman, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller and Ella Fitzgerald.

Among the reading material is lot 61, The Melody Maker from 1926-1932, in 18 hardbound volumes, lot 62, Jorgen Grunnet Jepsen’s Jazz Records, 1942 to 1962 (10 volumes in paperback) and lot 64A, a large quantity of jazz books and recorded music reference. The 71 lots and detailed descriptions can be scrolled through at the auction’s main web page.

Russell Malcolm Barnes worked at Bletchley Park and GCHQ and was involved in intelligence gathering. At his funeral a senior officer from the intelligence corps was in attendance and the corps flag was draped over his coffin.

However, his true love was jazz. A proficient, self-taught pianist, he formed the Blandford Jazz Circle which invited numerous jazz luminaries to play in Bournemouth. A lifelong friend of both Ernie Bayly, editor and publisher of the Talking Machine Review and Sinclair Trail, he was a prolific collector of early jazz, blues, opera and music hall recordings and the mechanical devices upon which to play them.