A major undertaking such as Before the Big Bang is only possible through the generosity of some of the most discerning record collectors. We’re not talking about the good folks who pursue the ultra rare electric blues and country (Paramount, etc.) and pay top dollar for the privilege of owning the discs.
It’s the handful of people who collect the world’s oldest recordings, many of them one of a kind. There’s an art to finding, understanding, and caring for those brown wax cylinders from the 1890s, the black moulded cylinders from the 1900s, and the earliest acoustically recorded discs such as Berliners and others. Some things are easy to find, but condition is key.