IT started, for Simon Robinson, with a personal challenge to list every record shop in Sheffield from his 1970s youth.
It saw him pestering friends for their memories, scouring old maps, and visiting charity shops to hunt for clues in their boxes of second-hand discs.
But this bizarre private quest will conclude next year with a book which promises to be music to the ears – not to mention a feast for the eyes – of anyone who has ever felt a shiver upon hearing a needle touch vinyl.
For, as part of his challenge the 57-year-old, of Stannington, started collecting both the paper bags and, before them, the card sleeves those old city shops sold their records in.
Now, after music fans across the globe went rock ’n’ roll for on-line pictures of that Sheffield packaging, he is to compile the images into a hardback book.
“I’m always amazed by the reaction the collection gets,” says Simon, a graphic designer and publisher by trade.
“I like them but then I like collecting strange things – but other people love it too. I think for some it transports them back to their youth, and for others it’s lovely to see how records were once sold.”
And, for Sheffield music fans in particular, the book promises to offer a whole album’s worth of nostalgia.
Featured will be everything from the simple sleeves used by shops like Cann, in Dixon Lane, in the early 20th century to the brightly coloured bags of modern multi-nationals such as HMV.
There will be reminders of dedicated music stores including Violet May, in South Street, and Heeley Gramophone Saloon in Heeley Bridge; as well as proof that you could once get a disc from places as diverse as Atkinsons, on The Moor, and The City Tyre And Vulcanising Co, in Rockingham Street.
“These bags and sleeves tend not to survive because, by their very nature, they got ripped or thrown away so this is, from what I can make out, a unique project,” says Simon, who has recently published a book featuring album artwork from around the world called Covered.
“It’s not been easy finding so many – you dig them up in charity shops and at old antique fairs.
“I’ll see a box of records and I’ll buy it for the packaging then get home and often throw the records out. Sometimes I listen – I’ve discovered some great jazz from the 1930s but mainly it’s not my kind of thing.”
Unlike that packaging, of course.
“If everything goes to plan we’ll be looking to release the book in 2013,” he says.
“We’re doing research at the moment to put some memories with the images – I’ll be interviewing a lady who worked in Cann soon.
“And after that I’d love to see them all framed and displayed on a wall somewhere.
“I just think they’d look great.”