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What the hell is a burn box?

Martin Frings
10 December 2020

It didn’t matter if you were a leader of the free world, a humble stamper manufacturer from Sheffield or something in between… It’s fair to say that you were not prepared for Covid 19. No one was.

But it was during the peak of the second lockdown, when every record collector was growing their collections – free from frivolous expenses like a ‘social life’ eating away at their record budget – that I became aware of something that I was even less prepared for than Covid 19…

Something that left me feeling I had been living each day completely oblivious to the potential cloud of impending doom around the corner. Sure, I could handle a pandemic. it was easy enough to avoid getting on a crowded bus. But could I handle losing a great record?

It all started with a well known record shop producing a series of livestream discussions where they asked record collectors about their collections. They would discuss some of the most notable records, how they came across them and share little anecdotes along the way – great content!

But it was halfway through one episode when they asked their guest what was in their ‘Burn Box’…

I beg your pardon?… I thought I knew everything about record collecting… “What the hell is a ‘Burn Box’!?”….

For those as uninitiated as I was, it turns out a ‘burn box’ is a box of your very most treasured records. The ones prized above all others, kept separate from the rest of your collection should your house ‘burn’ down and in the ensuing chaos you can only grab one thing on the way out.

I began to wonder how long I could last with the flames licking at me whilst I flicked through 7”s and trying to distinguish through the smoke which one was my ‘nice’ copy and which one was my ‘play’ copy. I can picture it now in my mind’s eye, the slow motion scene of firemen holding me back as I try to rush back into my house for the 10th time to fill my arms with records…

How on earth had such a concept as a burn box eluded me!? I would happily abandon the hand-me-downs and heirlooms I owned. But would I be willing to let my pristine sleeved copy of The Limps first 7” perish in the flames? NO!

It was clear to me I had been living life on the edge for too long and I got to work right away.

This is a glimpse inside…

Burn boxTop row: The Limit: My World At Night / Mellakka: Itsenäisyyspäivä / The Mammys: London Boy In Blue

Middle row: The Limps/No Support: Another Matchbox Classic / The Undertones: Teenage Kicks / Negative Approach: EP

Bottom row: Revulsion: Ever Get The Feeling Of Utter… / Leuzemia: S/T / And the white label? Giorgio Moroder: Willoughby, aka the very first record I ever pressed.