Although it seems that no two record price guides ever seem to agree on an exact price that a scarce, highly collectible record is worth, we must remember that these are the best guesses at the time of books release and are only estimates. Many factors will go into what a record may sell for, including the authenticity of the vinyl, the demand, the year of release and the condition and what someone may be willing to pay for a specific collectible. I have compiled a short list (at random) of some of the highly prized recordings and the estimated values that they may command on the market.
But, take into consideration the scarcity of these records. There is a reason that these vinyl records are so highly coveted, there just aren’t a lot of them available. Additionally, the market fluctuates, so the prices I list here may change at any time. But, suffice to say, it is imperative that you get a glimpse into the world of highly priced collectible vinyl records and that you certainly must know how to identifythese highly sought after treasures.
Furthermore, this is certainly not an all inclusive listing of all the most valuable rare vinyl, but a glimpse into how valuable some records are. With thus said, let’s explore some of the more highly priced records out there today (for reference and to get these values listed, I used the “Rockin’ Records” price guide that was published by Jerry Osborne in 2006)
What I tried to do is give you a look at an eclectic group of artists on 33, 45 and 78 rpm as well as detail some collectible record labels.
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Beatles- “Introducing The Beatles” Vee Jay 1062 (1964) monoaural version-black label with brackets logo-has “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” the back cover lists the contents
same as above except it is the stereo version of the record
Bob Dylan- “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” Columbia CS-8786 (1963) stereo version-with the songs “Let me Die In MY Footsteps,” “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” “Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand” and “Rocks And gravel (which may also be shown as “Solid Gravel”) The only way to tell if you have this is to verify the songs on the LP by playing it, rather than accepting the information that is printed on the label. In fact, some copies of the rare pressing have reissue labels
Bob Dylan- “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” Columbia CS-1986 (1963) monoaural-with the songs “Let me Die In MY Footsteps,” “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” “Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand” and “Rocks And gravel (which may also be shown as “Solid Gravel”) The only way to tell if you have this is to verify the songs on the LP by playing it, rather than accepting the information that is printed on the label. In fact, some copies of the rare pressing have reissue labels, identification numbers of the pressing are XLP-58717-1A, XLP-58718-1A
Bob Dylan- “Mixed Up Confusion” 45 rpm Columbia 42656 (1963) orange label- Dylan’s first ever single was recorded in November of 1962
Jefferson Airplane- “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off” RCA 3584 (1966) black label album has twelve tracks-original mono edition of the debut LP had 3 songs that should have never gotten by the censors including “Runnin’ ‘Round This World,” “Got To Her” and “Let Me In” new versions of the last two listed were substituted for the originals, on “Let Me In” the revised lyrics “As you stay here by me” were added in the place of the original “As you lay under me” while “’Runnin ‘Round This World” (which referred to both sex and drugs) was cut all together not to be heard again until 1971’s “Early Flight” compilation
Frank Wilson- 45 rpm “Do I Love You” Soul 35019 (1966) $24,000-26,000
Billy Ward & his Dominoes- US 10 inch 295-94 Federal (1954) $15,000-20,000
Velvet Underground & Nico- Verve 5008 (1967) monoaural-yellow label-promo with banana sticker on front cover, back cover an upside-down torso of a man behind the photo of Andy Warhol $2,000-3,000
Blind Joe Reynolds- 78 rpm “Cold Woman Blues” Paramount 12983 (1930) $2,500-3,000
Elvis Presley- 45rpm “Good Luck Charm” RCA 37-7992 (1962) $8,000-12,000
The Hornets- 45 rpm “I Can’t Believe” (red vinyl) States 127 (1953) $7,500-10,000
Beatles- promo single 45 rpm “Anna/Ask Me Why” Vee Jay (special DJ no. 8) $10,000-12,000
Rolling Stones- 45 rpm “Stoned” London 9641 (1964) $5,000-7,500
Rolling Stones- 33 rpm “Big Hits” London NP-1 (1966) monoaural full title printed on one line on the cover with the artist credited on the second line $3,000-4,000
Carl Perkins- 45 rpm “Sure To Fall” Sun 235 (1956) $1,000-2,000
Howlin’ Wolf- 78 rpm “Crying At Daybreak” RPM 340 (1951) $300-400
Valuable Vinyl Records
Lightnin’ Hopkins- 78 rpm “Henny Penny Blues” Goldstar 671 (1949) $400-500
Hollywood Saxons- 45 rpm “Everyday Holiday” Hareco 102 (1961) $3,000-4,000
Honey & Bees- 45 rpm “What A Lesson I’ve Learned” Academy 115 (1965) $2,000-2,500
Buddy Holly- 78 rpm on the Brunswick, Coral or Decca labels (1957-59) $150-800
Flamingos- 78 rpm “I Really Don’t Want To Know” Parrot 811 (1955) $3,000-4000
Music Emporium- 33 rpm “Music Emporium” Sentinel 100 (1968) $18,000-20,000
Pelicans- 45 rpm (red vinyl) “Aurelia” Parrot 793 (1954) $2,000-3,000
Buffalo Springfield- 33 rpm “Buffalo Springfield” Atco 200 (1966) contains “Baby Don’t Scold Me” $200-300
American Blues Exchange- 33 rpm “Blueprints” Tayl 1 (1969) $500-750
Dizzy Gillespie- 10 inch LP “Dizzy Gillespie” Atlantic 138 (1952) $200-300
Electric Prunes- 45 rpm “Shadows” Reprise (Pro-0305) (1967) Promotional issue only $1,000-1,500
Supremes- 33 rpm “Meet The Supremes” Motown 606 (1963) Front cover pictures each member sitting on a stool. Label has red star, indicating Detroit, in upper right. $1,000-1,200
Blind Willie McTell- 78 rpm “Dark Night Blues” Victor 38032 (1928) $500-1,000
John Coltrane- 33 rpm “Giant Steps” Atlantic 1311 (1959) $400-500
Silhouettes- 78 rpm “Get A Job” Junior 391 (1957) $300-400
Ravens- 45 rpm “Time Takes Care Of Everything” Columbia 1-903 (1950) compact 33 single$750-1,000
The vinyl record is a type of gramophone record, most popular from the 1950s to the 1990s, that was most commonly used for mass-produced recordings of music.
A vinyl gramophone or phonograph record consists of a disc of polyvinyl chloride plastic, engraved on both sides with a single concentric spiral groove in which a sapphire or diamond needle, stylus, is intended to run, from the outside edge towards the centre (though it should be noted that on a very small number of albums, like “Goodbye Blue and White” by Less Than Jake, a hidden track, or the entire side, will be played from the centre out).
While a 78 rpm record is brittle and relatively easily broken, both the microgroove LP 33 rpm record and the 45 rpm single records are made from vinyl plastic which is flexible and unbreakable in normal use. 78s come in a variety of sizes, the most common being 10 inch (25 cm) and 12 inch (30 cm) diameter, and these were originally sold in either paper or card covers, generally with a circular cutout allowing the record label to be seen. The Long-Playing records (LPs) usually come in a paper sleeve within a colour printed card jacket which also provides a track listing. 45 rpm singles and EPs (Extended Play) are of 7 inch (17.5 cm) diameter, the earlier copies being sold in paper covers. Grooves on a 78 rpm are much coarser than the LP and 45.
12″ (30 cm) 33 rpm long-playing (LP) format
7″ (17.5 cm) 45 rpm (single) format
Less common formats:
12″ (30 cm) 45 rpm extended-playing 12-inch (30 cm) single, Maxi Single and EP format
10″ (25 cm) 33 rpm long-playing (LP) format
10″ (25 cm) 45 rpm extended-playing (EP) format
7″ (17.5 cm) 33 rpm extended-playing (EP) format
16 rpm format for voice recording
12″ (30 cm), 10″ (25 cm) and 7″ (17.5 cm) picture discs and shaped discs
Specialty sizes (5″ (12 cm), 6″ (15 cm), 8″ (20 cm), 9″ (23 cm), 11″ 28 cm), 13″ (33 cm))
Flexidiscs, often square 7″s (17.5 cm)
Vinyl record standards for the United States follow the guidelines of the RIAA (the Record Industry Association of America). The inch dimensions are not actual record diameters, but a trade name. The actual dimension of a 12 inch record is 302 mm (11.89 in), for a 10 inch it is 250 mm (9.84 in), and for a 7 inch it is 175 mm (6.89 in).
Records made in other countries follow different guidelines. The record diameters are commonly 30 cm, 25 cm and 17.5 cm in most countries. See: http://www.gzcd.cz/en/doc/tc-vinyl.pdf
History and development
In 1930, RCA Victor launched the first commercially-available vinyl long-playing record, marketed as “Program Transcription” discs. These revolutionary discs were designed for playback at 33 rpm and pressed on a 12″ diameter flexible plastic disc. In Roland Gelatt’s book The Fabulous Phonograph, the author notes that RCA Victor’s early introduction of a long-play disc was a commercial failure for several reasons including the lack of affordable, reliable consumer playback equipment and consumer wariness during the Great Depression.
However, vinyl’s lower playback noise level than shellac was not forgotten. During and after World War II when shellac supplies were extremely limited, some 78 rpm records were pressed in vinyl instead of shellac (wax), particularly the six-minute 12″ (30 cm) 78 rpm records produced by V-Disc for distribution to US troops in World War II.
Beginning in 1939, Columbia Records continued development of this technology. Dr. Peter Goldmark and his staff undertook exhaustive efforts to address problems of recording and playing back narrow grooves and developing an inexpensive, reliable consumer playback system. In 1948, the 12″ (30 cm) Long Play (LP) 33 rpm microgroove record was introduced by the Columbia Record at a dramatic New York press conference.
The commercial rivalry between RCA Victor and Columbia Records led to RCA Victor’s introduction of what it had intended to be a competing vinyl format, the 7″ (17.5 cm) / 45 rpm Extended Play (EP). For a two-year period from 1948 to 1950, record companies and consumers faced uncertainty over which of these formats would ultimately prevail in what was known as the “War of the Speeds”.
Eventually, the 12″ (30 cm) / 33 rpm LP prevailed as the predominant format for musical albums, and the 7″ (17.5 cm) / 45 rpm EP or “single” established a significant niche for shorter duration discs typically containing one song on each side. The EP discs typically emulated the playing time of the former 78 rpm discs, while the LP discs provided up to one-half hour of time per side.
After the introduction of high-quality but expensive stereo reel-to-reel tapes in 1955 and the increasing public fascination with stereo sound, intense work was undertaken to devise a scheme for recording stereo sound on 12″ (30 cm) / 33 rpm LP. In late 1957, a system of cutting and playing back stereo was devised and generally accepted by the industry. Consumer acceptance of stereo LPs was somewhat cautious initially but grew steadily during the early 1960s, and the industry largely discontinued production of conventional monaural LP records and playback equipment by 1968.
Similarly, the introduction of high-quality but expensive quadraphonic (four channel) reel-to-reel tapes and 8-track tape cartridges in 1970 led to the introduction of quadraphonic vinyl records, which arrived on the market in 1972. Although public interest was initially high, the lack of compatibility between the three competing SQ, QS, and CD-4 formats prompted the eventual commercial failure of quadraphonic LP records. Most record companies stopped producing quadraphonic LPs after 1975 although a handful of classical-music titles continued to be issued until 1980.
Other major developments worth noting:
During the early 1970s, a cost-cutting move towards use of lighweight, flexible vinyl pressings. Marketed by RCA Victor as the Dynaflex process, much of the industry adopted a technique of reducing the thickness and quality of vinyl used in mass-market manufacturing. In many cases, this included using “regrind” vinyl as a means of cutting manufacturing costs.
During the late 1970s, an audiophile-focused niche market for “direct-to-disc” records, which completely bypassed use of magnetic tape in favor of a “purist” transcription directly to the master lacquer disc.
During the early 1980s, an audiophile-focused niche market for “DBX-encoded” records, which were completely non-compatible with standard record playback preamplifiers, relying on a sophisticated DBX noise reduction encoding/decoding scheme to virtually eliminate playback noise and increase dynamic range. A similar and very short-lived scheme involved using the CBS-developed “CX” noise reduction encoding/decoding scheme.
During the late 1970s, an audiophile-focused niche market for “half-speed mastered” and “original master” records, using expensive state-of-the-art technology.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, the use of highly advanced disc cutting equipment to improve the dynamic range and reduce inner-groove distortion of mass-produced records, using techniques marketed as the CBS Discomputer and Teldec Direct Metal Mastering.
Although replaced by digital media such as the compact disc as a mass market music medium, vinyl records continue to be manufactured and sold in the 21st century.
Historically the most common formats are:
12″ (30 cm) / 33 rpm LP
7″ (17.5 cm) / 45 rpm EP or Single
10″ (25 cm)/ 45 rpm LP (superceeded by 12″ (30 cm) / 33? rpm LP in the 60′s)
12″ (30 cm) / 33 or 45 rpm Maxi Single (introduced in the 80′s)
Today most of the records are issued in 12″ (30 cm) LP or Maxi Single.
The sound quality and durability of vinyl records is highly dependent on the quality of the vinyl used. Most vinyl records are pressed on recycled vinyl. New “virgin” or “heavy” (180-220 gram) is commonly used for classical music, although it has been used for some other genres. Today, it is increasingly common in vinyl pressings that can be found in most record shops. Even modern albums like Shellac’s and Mission of Burma’s latest are pressed on 180 g/m² vinyl, though most are reissues of classic albums, like The Clash’s series of reissues. These albums tend to withstand the deformation caused by normal play better than regular vinyl.
While most vinyl records are pressed from metal master discs, a technique known as lathe-cutting was introduced in the late 1980s by Peter King of Geraldine, New Zealand. A lathe is used to cut microgrooves into a clear polycarbonate disc. Lathe cut records can be made inexpensively in small runs. However, the sound quality is significantly worse than proper vinyl records, and lathe cut records tend to degrade further in quality after repeated playing.
Vinyl vs. compact discs
In the early days of compact discs, vinyl records were still prized by audiophiles because of better reproduction of analog recordings, however the drawback was greater sensitivity to scratches and dust. Early compact discs were perceived by some as screechy, distorting sounds on the high end, and not as “warm” as vinyl especially in recordings that require a wide dynamic range (eg. classical recordings). This resulted in a slower acceptance of digital music in its early years by some listeners.
Though digital audio technology has improved over the years, some audiophiles still prefer what they perceive as the warmer and more detailed sound of vinyl over the harsher sound of CDs. Some listeners were also disappointed by what they considered to be unfaithful remastering of analog recordings. The advent of higher-quality digital formats, notably SACD, offers the tantalizing possibility of combining the high-quality sound of the best analog recordings with the convenience and durability of the CD. Many artists still release recordings, in limited pressings, on vinyl.
For DJs, mostly in the electronic dance music or hip hop genres, vinyl has another advantage over the CD: the direct manipulation of the medium. While with CDs or cassettes one normally has only indirect manipulation options (the play/stop/pause etc. buttons), with a record one can put the needle a few tracks farther in- or outwards and accelerate/decelerate the spinning or even reverse the direction (if the needle and record player is built to withstand it). However some professional CD players now have this capability.
One company has developed a player that uses a laser instead of a needle to read vinyl discs. In theory, it eliminates the possibility of scratches and attendent degradation of the sound, but its expense limits use primarily to digital archiving of analog records.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “Metasyntactic variable”.
The value of vinyl records is very subjective and certainly up for debate. There are many elements that go into ascertaining just how much a specific record or a whole collection may be worth. Do you use fair market value, replacement value or record price guide value? As I found out, it all depends on the circumstances, and the best way to achieve these objectives is to have your collection professionally appraised. I had the opportunity to speak with professional appraiser and music historian Stephen M. H. Braitman about the elements that go into putting a value on a record collection.
But, first, let me introduce Stephen. He has been involved with records and music since the late 60′s, writing and editing several entertainment and music publications. He also has been a dealer, buying and selling records, posters and related memorabilia throughout the years. His widely acknowledged expertise in the marketplace for music and memorabilia makes his appraisal services very important for estate planning, charitable contributions, expert testimony and for insurance and coverage claims. His many credentials include: passing the American Society of Appraisers (ASA)Principles of Practice and Code of Ethics exam in 2004, completing courses on such subjects as the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Personal Property Valuation, Methodology-Research and Analysis as well as the legal and commercial environment of appraisal. He is also a music analyst with Gracenote, the digital music management company.
So what does all this mean? Stephen M.H. Braitman is a qualified, certified appraiser. Why is this unique service so important? As I discussed the details of his occupation with Mr. Braitman, let’s explore some of the details that go into a record collection appraisal and how a record collection should be appraised.
“This is a new service, a new genre so to speak,” he said. “The service is being offered for those people who may have large or small collections and have really no idea their worth. Unfortunately, there are no legal requirements to qualify as an appraiser except in the real estate market, but the IRS and the Appraisal Foundation have led the way with the adoption of nationally recognized standards that reputable appraisers in all fields use. The IRS, for example, uses the concept of fair market value, meaning the agreed-upon price paid by a willing, knowledgeable buyer to a willing, knowledgeable seller. One of the reasons I entered this profession is, not only because of my love for music and music memorabilia, but because I felt that the industry needs certified appraisers to provide critical assistance in defining the values of collections for insurance purposes, estate planning, tax donation claims, personal disputes and investments. Part of the job is also being called upon as an expert witness to attest and back up the values set upon a collection. That’s where I enter the picture.”
When asked what exactly goes into an appraisal, Stephen explained:
“There are many variables that have to be recognized when placing a value on a collection. It also depends on the purpose of the appraisal. For instance, the IRS uses fair market value in determining the value of donated material. But, replacement value in insurance cases different; it’s higher because you’ll be paying a higher cost to recover certain collectibles, let’s say, that may have been lost in a fire. So, the intent of the appraisal must be taken into consideration as well.”
“We research what are comparable items in the current marketplace. There are several aspects to research that include recent and relevant sales, trend analysis,professional consensus, retail stores, auction prices as well as record guide prices. The record price guides are a nice starting point, but they may not reflect true value because of the variables just mentioned.”
“Our first order of business in an appraisal is generally to examine the physical items, if possible, and note the condition, edition or other key points of recognition. Then we conduct extensive research to ascertain the current marketability of the items. Our service concludes with a certified document that details the estimated retail value and the current wholesale value, depending on the type of appraisal. We also include a statement of the overall quality level of the item or collection, including condition, pressing edition or the cultural or historical desirability. This document exceeds the appraisal requirements of the IRS and the insurance companies.”
We discussed one of the most confusing and subjective elements regarding vinyl records: grading the vinyl. I asked Stephen what method he uses.
“It is actually a combination of many methods, including the Goldmine Standards that have been set up in their many publications, the ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’-formula, and my own formula. I like to take it a step further and use a 100-point scale, and deduct points for every flaw, not only on the record, but the picture sleeve (if it is a 45rpm), LP jacket and cover. I would like to see a uniform standard set up sometime in the near future, something that everybody in the industry could agree on,” said Stephen.
There are also a couple of ways to have your memorabilia or record collection documented and appraised, as Stephen details:
“We actually offer two distinct services, the professional appraisal and a quick evaluation of your memorabilia or record collection. This entails you sending us a list of your items from which we provide a detailed document with a range of market values based on comparables. You’ll be able to tell whether you have something worth $1.00, $10, $100, or more. This process is quicker and less expensive that the formal appraisal and is most useful in estimating what a sale to a dealer might bring,” explained Stephen.
“Our service includes, not only the appraisal of records and record collections, but posters, flyers, handbills, programs, CDs, promotional items, tour books and othermusic collectibles. (I don’t handle musical instruments, which is a very different kind of specialty). It is important to have your items or collections appraised to gauge the potential replacement value, assist in estate planning goals, tax elements and other factors. I have much more information on my Website,http://www.musicappraisals.com.”
As we wrapped up our interview, we talked about our love for not only music, but the historical audio format of, vinyl records. I asked Stephen about one of his most memorable record collection appraisals.
“I did an appraisal for a gentleman in Texas and he had a wonderful and superb record collection. But, when he put on an old 78rpm of Robert Johnson and played it on his professional sound equipment, and as the music filled the room, you could have swore that Mr. Robert Johnson himself was playing for you right then and there. It was a wonderful and enlightening experience, and one I will never forget,” recalled Stephen.
So, not only does Stephen M.H. Braitman offer valuable and unique record appraisal services, he also gets to archive, appraise and handle important parts of audio history, and gets to hear them as well. And that is a reward that you can not put a value on.
My name is Robert Benson and as an avid vinyl record collector for over 30 years, I have compiled a resource for all the lovers of vinyl records. If you are just beginning to collect, or are an established hobbyist; my ebook called “The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting,” will answer the many questions you may have about why people collect vinyl records, where to find collectible records, record appraisals, insuring your collection, the history of album cover art, the vinyl vs. CD debate, cleaning vinyl records, record price guides and much, much more. (over 110 pages of material)
Read what a person in the industry has to say:
The benefits of reading the ebook:
- Where To Get Insurance For Your Record Collection
- What Makes Vinyl Records So Popular
- Why People Collect Old Vinyl Records
- Why Vinyl Records Sound Better Than Other Musical Formats
- How To Care For A Collection And Maintain Its Condition To Preserve Its Value
- Interviews With Fellow Vinyl Record Collectors
- How To Grade Your Vinyl Records And Grading Tips
- Tips On Cleaning Your Vinyl Records
- Where To Find Collectible Records, Including Interviews With Vinyl Record Dealers
But most of all, I have made the ebook affordable and priced at $5.99, it makes perfect sense to either pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift. Learn more about this historic audio medium with this valuable information:
- Tips About Transferring Vinyl Records To CD’s
- Indepth Look At Album Cover Art, Album Cover Framing and Its Historic Value
- Learn Why Vinyl Records Sales Are On The Rise
- Links To Vinyl Websites & Software To Document Your Collection
- Where To Get Vinyl Records Appraised
- Importance Of Record Price Guides