Karsten T.Here is a different interview. So different than any other featured on our site. Here is a collector who decided to give up collecting and is selling a big collection on ebay. Not only his collection was huge, but included a big number of rarities! And I mean BIG TIME rarities as several times his auction results were featured on our facebook page as the "Highest Priced Rarity of the Day” fetching prices in the mid to high $XXX range!

So, under what circumstances one can decide to sell a collection? Was it an easy decision? Would you do that? And what all these mean to the rest of us?

Karsten T. from a small town in Bavaria, Germany, was 39 years old at the time of the interview working as a self-employed journalist for business magazines. He played in a local band for some years but as he puts it "that was more about drinking than doing proper music” and also wrote some articles for German webzines. Karsten was also part of the moderation team of the Summer Breeze Open Air Festival.

When did you realize that you are becoming a collector of Metal CDs, LPs and stuff?

I guess I started as a "regular metalhead" back in 1988 when I first heard Helloween’s Dr. Stein in the Bavarian radio. The band hit the Top Ten of the charts back then (I still think it was because of the comic cover) and they had to give them airplay. That’s when I started to buy original tapes, traded a bit and got into CDs a little later. When I went studying in Munich in 1996 a colleague of mine who now writes for German Metal Hammer turned me to an unknown internet platform named alando.de where you could buy used music. It became eBay.de later on and there I met some other collectors from around the world. One - tragically late - friend of mine, Time Cole from Wisconsin, opened my eyes to the many series out there like Pricekillers, Mausoleum Classix and Slimlines. I guess when I started hunting these down I became a real collector with a want list and stuff. When I joined the music board musik-sammler.de my collection started to grow once more rapidly…

From what places you acquired most of your collection?

Back in the days I bought most of it in local record stores or mail orders. Later obviously eBay and Amazon were added along with Discogs, Music Stack plus some second hand platforms in Germany. I also enjoyed the big metal fairs in Cologne and Munich and on festivals like Wacken, Bang Your Head or Keep It True. To be honest lots of the fun was lost with the immense rate of bootlegs turning up and more and more sellers starting to lie in your face when you asked them whether CDs were genuine or not. That was the time when I stopped dealing on eBay to get money for my collection for some years as I could not be sure about what I was selling and that did not satisfy me at all.

Karsten T.'s ex-collectionWhat was the peak of your collection? How many items you owned and in what formats?

I guess the highest number I reached was roundabout 6.250. I owned 99 percent CDs and some demo tapes. I only got two vinyls: The Dr. Stein EP from Helloween being my ‘first love" concerning metal and the first cover edition of Xentrix’s Ghostbusters signed by the band. Both are displayed on the wall of my flat.

What was the "driving force” behind your collecting hobby? Was it just a hobby or was it something bigger?

I guess it was just the love for the music. Visiting concerts and festivals made me aware of lots more bands than I initially listened to, furthermore did I read nearly every Metal magazine available (my mother worked in a newspaper store which definitely helped!). With time I became obsessed with series collecting and getting want lists from around the world I copied these down and tried to find everything I could lay my hands on. Later I had phases where I tried to find especially Eastern European, French or Christian Metal music. I did not want to show off with how much stuff I had or how easily I could find it, but it made me very happy to close those hurting gaps in my collection. Kind of a personal obsession I would say.

Karsten T.'s ex-collectionSo after 25 years of collecting you decided to sell nearly all of your collection. I would like to ask you about how you took this decision. Have you been thinking about it over some time? Or was it a very quick decision one morning when you woke up?

It’s been a process. I was discussing this with friends a lot and on the musik-sammler.de board too. I felt like the stuff ought to be put into a museum rather than be just discarded if something happened to me. When I had - after nearly two years of work - sorted out and ripped everything in different formats and with back-up copies I ended up with a newly bought CD rack with stuff for maybe 100.000 Euros in it that I might never again touch as I could listen to the music on every computer and TV in my flat without getting the CDs out of the racks. I guess this was the point when I decided that I could NOT live without the music but definitely without the CDs themselves. It took me about a year from then on to get started finally though.

Any regrets so far for an item you sold that you shouldn’t?

No, not really. In the beginning when I started to tell friends and other collectors about selling my stuff many people said "you gotta keep this and that”. But in the end I could never part with anything back in time. Not being able to choose the best pressing I simply kept everything. When I would have tried to keep some I guess I could not have decided on which ones and might have ended up without selling the stuff – I just could not do that. So I have no regrets whatsoever up to now.

It seems that you know very well the values of most of you items. Were there any items that you sold much below or much higher than the expected price?

I certainly needed time to get back into the groove on eBay. Not having followed the auctions there for quite some years I did not know at first what would sell and what would not. That was why I did not rate everything MEGARARE and started all auctions without Buy It Now options for $1 each. The collectors out there know what is rare and what is not and which questions they have to ask. I guess this platforms always has Its ups and downs but in the end levels out the peaks. I was definitely astonished with CDs like Epitaph or Deathrider reaching the $800 and Evil Sinner which made my first $1.000 auction ever. But I am surprised more with some albums I grabbed up for $5 along the way and which reach now solid $100+. Mostly bands I thought nobody else would have ever heard of.

The only item I was kind of disappointed with was the Sawblade pressing of Intruders Live To Die. With all that half-assed Death Metal albums rocketing sky high every few weeks or months this was one thing I am quite sure there are no more than 100 pieces worldwide – I know of only one other guy from Singapore to own it. It’s not about the money, the sales go well, but I guess it would have deserved more than the $100 it got in the end. At least I know that the guy it goes to does appreciate it and would have paid more money. I plainly asked him :D

Karsten T.'s ex-collectionWhat is the 1% that you will keep? And why it is so important?

I doubt it’s a whole percent in the end. The only things I will be keeping are some live CD/DVD sets by some of my favorite bands like Sentenced, Nevermore and Rush. They are beautifully packed, some of the concerts featured there I visited myself and I got close emotional bonds to these items that root in my personal history.

Judging from your "ME” page on ebay it appears that you have been an obsessed collector of all things Metal! Do you still have this obsession with the music? Do you still go to concerts and maybe buy CDs?

Yes of course! Like I already pointed out I could never live without the music. Having the whole flat and network connected to my hard disc drives with my collection on it was the first project I realized in the new flat. I visit concerts regularly in Munich, Germany and Europe and attend two to five music festivals per year. I have been driving up to 1.000 kilometers to see the reunion shows of Death Angel, Forbidden and Sacred Reich and will do so again this winter for the 25 year anniversary concert of The Gathering.

With the sales running I had also the opportunity to buy some high priced items I never owned before, add them to my virtual collection and sell them again. So I will definitely keep buying music but not as madly as in the past.

Now that your collection goes down in numbers… do you have any sort of… relief feelings? I hope you know what I mean…. Do you feel kind of more "free” now?

Not yet. Right now I have closed deals for quite exactly 3.000 CDs, so I am only half-way down that road. The CD boxes, empty cases and all the stuff I need for packing and mailing the music is still holding nearly half of the place in my office and kitchen, so I am confronted with that every hour every day. The only relief I am feeling right now is the one that I can part with everything more easily than I expected to. I guess getting each CD out of its case to make a digital copy, discarding the CD trays before moving and now re-casing them for shipment is kind of a farewell process that helps me a lot to deal with it. I am quite sure though that it will be a mighty relief on the day I ship the last parcel out. I will definitely need a long vacation then!

Karsten T.Is the collector Karsten a very different person from the post-collector Karsten?

I guess the post-collector is a little bit more mature and relaxed, less frantic and obsessed with finding the next big thing. But all in all they are the same person and collecting was a very important part of my life for many years. I guess the biggest difference is that I nowadays do not define myself mostly as being a collector of rare Metal Music anymore. That does not mean that finding a CD that I was searching for a long time (Deathrider, Deafen and Exathema Split come to mind lately) does not excite me anymore. :D

You clearly mentioned not to ask you about why you are selling your collection. However, it is very hard not to ask you! I am sure the people who are reading this interview they are expecting to get some clues… Please give us something :)

You just had to try, didn’t you *lol* Well let’s say that I had a very difficult phase in my life some years ago for reasons too personal to tell them to everybody, deaths in the family that kind of stuff. That time was maybe the part of my collecting career when things got a little bit out of hand, I overspent and so on. On the other hand the collection itself had kind of a source of healing in it. Not only listening to the music but giving me something to do that took my mind off things I would not like to think about back then. That is the one part. The other is that after so many years I just felt like I had to move on. I guess with the money I will be getting I might give myself the chance to realize some other dreams, start something new and maybe leave the country in the end. We will see :D

At the back of your mind…. Is there a baby demon that will make you regret selling your collection in a few years time?

I seriously doubt that as I still have the music. I do not even know if it would really drive me mad if a computer crash or a fire might lose me all those hard discs. I was trying to imagine to win the lottery, stop selling and try to get back everything I gave up this far - rebuild the collection in a way. It just felt wrong. Like Re-Animator put it "That Was Then… This Is Now!" :D

Do you think you might develop any other collecting "habit” in the future?

I sincerely hope not as I did take my collecting very seriously in the past and spent a lot of money on it. I would very much like to travel a lot and collect interesting cities and countries in the future - maybe that counts too.

Are you going to sell everything on ebay or you might try other platforms too?

I was thinking a lot about using different platforms than eBay too but I ended up with keeping it down to one. I guess trying anything like internet boards, private selling lists or Amazon would have just gotten me into a big chaos losing track of what was offered where and sold when and for what. I have been on eBay since back in 1999 and always enjoyed the possibility to deal with people from around the world. So I still think it just gives everybody a fair chance to get a piece of the cake.

Three Double Layered Boxes Like These Are All That Is Left Right Now

Any tips for the potential buyers of your items?

As everybody seems to have a different strategy in when to bid and how much I will not try to give advice in that area. What I would definitely like to point out is that all of you got ten days of asking your questions while the auctions are running – it’s a strange habit to win stuff for lots of money just to have the matrix codes checked afterwards. Up to now I have been able to run into only a little bit of trouble and where I made mistakes I was able to sort everything out with the buyers so in the end all of us were happy. If something goes wrong, just get in contact with me first and we will try to find a solution together. Apart from that: Good luck bidding!

The last words are yours…..

I’d like to thank you and all the other guys here in these Facebook groups for giving us an opportunity to meet up and discuss stuff. The information posted here is very helpful and I have been able to get some nice items too.
But finally I would of course like to thank all the people who have dealt with me on eBay for the past 15 years and gave me a great time. I will definitely miss that part as I enjoyed it a lot. Everybody feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss anything with me. I can only hope that the winning bidders enjoy the stuff they will be getting as much as I did back then and will always honor them. Keep it Metal, guys!