Part 271: The Stamp


RECORD STORE TALES Part 271:  The Stamp

The year:  1997.

We had just started repairing scratched CDs via a GTA-based third party contractor.  They were able to remove a miniscule layer of plastic from the playing surface, rendering a smooth surface that would not deflect your CD player’s laser.  The result was a playable, sellable CD, with a clouded appearance on the CD itself.  The cloudy look was usually very minor, although it was sometimes enough to turn a customer off of buying the CD.

After repairing the scratched discs, they would be put in brand new CD cases and then on the shelves to sell.  But we also had to mark each disc as “repaired” somehow, so that if any were returned as defective, we would know they had been fixed.  We could then get the fee for fixing the disc credited back to us, or the contractor could try to fix it again and buff it deeper.  Either way, we needed to mark them, somehow.

The best way to fix a surface scratched CD

We agreed that the least problematic way was to stamp the inner (usually blank and hidden) sleeve of the CD, the part underneath the plastic tray.  We stamped it with our store logo.  For most discs at the time, nobody would ever notice the stamp unless they pulled the case apart.  The only problems were with discs that had inner picture sleeves under clear trays.  We were forced to put the stamp directly on the artwork in those cases, a process that killed me every time.  I hated defacing a CD.  It’s not something I would ever do to my own property.

IMG_00001317Around this time, AC/DC just released the luxurious Bonfire box set, a monolith of rock containing many separate additional treats:  A pick, a bottle opener/keychain, a sticker, and a temporary tattoo.  This was high on my priority list, so I put my name in our store’s computer reservation system for the first used copy that showed up.

It was only a few weeks before a used copy did show up.  One of the higher-ups decided to work in my store that day.  A man came to the counter with some CDs to sell, and the Bonfire box set.  It was mint, complete, everything intact.  However the higher-up didn’t consider the set as “mint” as I did; she determined that one of the CDs from the Let There Be Rock set was scratched.  It had a tiny nearly invisible mark on it not even the size of a hair, but not a scratch.  She dutifully stamped the inner tray and put the CD in the pile to be sent out and fixed.

I was disappointed that the tray had been defaced, but there was no way I was letting that disc get sent out and fixed.  It would look worse, with the cloudy finish.  I preferred the un-fixed finish with that tiny hairline mark that I could barely see.  I can see the scratch even less today with my aged eyesight!

I bought the set but that stamp is still there.  I covered it up with a white sticker, and was grateful that the box set didn’t have clear CD trays with artwork underneath.

That stamp still bugs me.  I still see it there, and it still bugs me!  How do you feel about things like this?  Defects in the physical musical product that you love?  I know I can’t be alone.

Postscript:  Years later some damn rat kid stole the stamper.  On my watch!!


  1. Oh, I’d hate anything like that. I even hate price-tags most of the time. I really hate when people draw the price on with a little marker – what’s all that about? I don’t like the box to be changed at all.


    1. Yeah you know when you write the price on with a case, even with just a wax pencil, you’re never getting it off.

      There was a store in town called Dr Disc, and their price tags also had a magnetic security tag in it. Their price tags were IMPOSSIBLE to remove, it always left behind an ugly red residue. I felt like they should have given me a free jewel case with every used CD I bought for that reason.


      1. Oh yes, Dr. Disc…I still have some CDs from there with their stickers on them…’cause I knew you could remove the yellow sticker, but that gunk was not coming off!


        1. Exactly! And it was on every used CD they sold. Dr. Disc sold some great stuff but their stores left a lot to be desired in other respects. They’d never heard of a mop for example!


        2. Here! Here! The London location was a scuzzy hole-in-the-wall with that low-pile carpeting. It also had that damp “get yo’ silverfish ‘ere” smell. Best damn place to buy any music.


        3. Nope, not Barrie, though I have been in that shop and I know of what you speak. We’re about two hours west along the lake, in Owen Sound. I have one word for the ancient shoppe here: Purell.


        4. lol, are you the “Tom”, Mike’s talking about ( just asking for point of reference)? I went to Western, so Dr. Disc was my go-to joint. Never bought any vinyl there. The hubs is into vinyl, and we lived in Barrie 8 years, so we became familiar with that shop.


        5. I believe Tom uses the handle, “Iron Tom Sharpe, Meaford’s Greatest Athlete”. Which if you’re sharp is a reference to former WWF wrestler Iron Mike Sharpe from Hamilton Ontarop!


      2. The Salvation Army here used a blue Bic pen to write the price on the cover of R.E.M.’s ‘Around The Sun’ CD. That’s a white cover, digipak case. I asked the girl why in bloody hell they would do that and she just shrugged, said “it’ll rub off.” I still bought the damn thing (who wouldn’t buy an otherwise pristine R.E.M. album for $1?), but that pen never fully rubbed off. The imprint of the pressure of writing the price on it remains.


        1. Upon further reflection, anyone selling an R.E.M. CD for $1 clearly doesn’t care about the album, and so wouldn’t think twice about writing on it with a g-ddamn desk pen.


  2. I ‘m with you all the way Mike..Having a CD defaced in any way drives me crazy..even taking a CD to a show , or buying a CD at a show..No I don’t want the bands signature all over it defacing the CD cover..if I want band’s signature I’ll buy a poster or picture for the band to sign. So when I do buy CDs and DVDs conditions of the artwork ,.very important.. Something its something I can fix such as taking a marker and touching it up..even the condition of the jewel case has to be good ..who wants a beat up up scratched case? Not me ..I will buy new case every time !


    1. Hey Gord thanks for showing up! Everybody, Gord was my hair metal customer back in the day…I got some rare stuff off Gord including a rare Poison singing from Europe.

      Gord, I seem to remember that you and your brother also did not like it when Ozzy re-released his albums with the little tiny cover pictures. You preferred the original full size covers and I understand that.


    2. Oddly, I am OK with a band signing a CD booklet. If I’ve seen them in concert, and they sign the booklet, cool. I slide the booklet back where it belongs, put the ticket stub under the tray liner so it’s visible on the back cover, and it’s a neat and tidy package of my experience with that band.


      1. I have lots of signed CDs. Nothing rare…I could go out and buy a new Rush Clockwork Angels, if I cared enough. But it’s just a CD and Geddy and Alex’s autographs make it more special to me. It’s not like I wrote my initials on it which would piss me off.


  3. I suppose the stamp is a compromise, but gee, I would hate that too!

    Value Village have the WORST sticky stickers on the planet. Not only does the sticker leave gunk behind, the imprint of where the sticker once was ALWAYS remains. That’s the worst!

    I bought the hubs the Bonfire collection for xmas the year it came out. I’ve never heard a man squee with glee like that before!


    1. I haven’t been to a Value vIllage in years and I have never bought a CD in one, so I will take your word for it. Sticker gunk sucks. Even using a product like Goo Gone will leave its own oily residue behind. The only solution is a brand new case.

      “Squee with glee” is a great phrase!


      1. We have a value village here in our town now (just opened this past summer) and they just put an easy-to-remove sticker on the spine of the case. No problems at all.

        Goo Gone does not work on those difficult stickers. Solution: pitch the case and install a new one.


    1. About 15 years ago Castle were remastering all the Black Sabbath albums so I collected the whole set. Hard to find was Master of Reality which came inside a glossy embossed cardboard slip case. Well our own store price tag destroyed that…I bought it anyway because it was a good deal but it always bugged me.


  4. Oh man, I am so anal about CDs I should probably have my own porn web site for exacting freaks like me. NEVER set a CD on its playing surface, not anywhere or for any reason. Hold it by the edges ONLY (use of center hole with one finger, for grip, is acceptable so long as finger does not bend under and touch playing surface). Put it properly back in its own case immediately upon finishing with it. ALWAYS maintain CD collection alphabetical order when returning to the shelf.


    1. As for price stickers, I always hated ’em. Dr. Disc was particularly bad. I was in their Windsor location all the time when I went to university there. Great selection, sure, but the stickers on those cases were guaranteed to piss you off. And yeah, the metallic puffy ones are bad too. Sometimes you can get lucky and rip it off all in one go with little trouble, like a bandaid, but not often.


      1. The absolute worst, though, were ANY kind of sticker on a used CD in a digipak. With no plastic wrap to protect the cardboard, any slight dig you make with your fingernail to get the corner of the sticker up would, without fail, leave a dent in the cardboard. There’s nothing you can do.


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