Thursday, March 20, 2014

Night of Household Items #1:
Hi Fi Cloth from Le-Bo Products

Nestled among the larger piles of ephemera, I have a smaller pile of items that are hard to classify. They're not quite ephemera. I would call them "Oddball Household Items of the Past." My wife would call them "Why Are You Keeping That?" SOLUTION: If I write about them, I'm then free to get rid of them. (That's my logic, anyway.) So tonight, tune in for multiple enthralling posts as I present Night of Household Items.

#1: Hi Fi Cloth

This plastic bag has never been opened. It was, apparently, a free gift from Funk & Wagnalls. According to the packaging, this anti-static record cloth:
  • Removes static charge
  • Protects
  • Cleans
  • Lubricates
  • One wipe preserves High Fidelity

The directions make it seem like I might be better off never opening this bag: "If cloth should get dry, sprinkle lightly with water. The active chemicals stay permanently. Always store in plastic bag."

The cloth contains silicone, which might have been the hip cleaning material of the time, but is now generally frowned upon by vinyl aficionados. In "Zen and the Art of Record Cleaning Made Difficult," Michael Wayne calls silicone record-cleaning cloths "true groove polluting monsters." And, on an forum, one user wrote:
"Lots of people used them for years but know better nowadays. I would not use it unless it was on some old record I did not really care that much about and just wanted to do a quick wipe. It actually has some sort of mild acidic cleaner imbedded in it. I had one that had been used for many years and them put aside. I remember grabbing it, wrapping some tool with it, and putting it on a shelf. I went back to use the tool a few weeks later and the cleaner in this old cloth had actually pitted the metal. I know I would find some use for it as a specialized cleaning cloth, but not for records."
The company that sold this item — Le-Bo Products of Maspeth (Queens), New York — doesn't appear to exist anymore. Some of its other products and patents included a video cassette storage and ejection device, a dual purpose insert for tape cartridges and cassettes and a record rack.

The record rack was invented by Samuel L. Beder, who also filed patents for a collapsible terrarium, a time-triggered chime, a recipe box, and a reversible briefcase during his lifetime.

UP NEXT: Lather Leaves

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