Are Your Old Vinyl Records Worth Thousands?
Do you have stacks of old vinyl records packed away or collecting dust on your shelf? Ever wonder if your vinyl records are worth anything? Flipsy.com enlisted the help of experts to find out which are the most valuable records in the world, how to find record values and where to sell vinyl records.
The average eBay selling price for vinyl records is around $15, though values can range from 50 cents to $50 or more. Some vinyl records command spectacular fees. An original copy of Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You" can be worth up to $40,000, for example, while Elvis Presley's "Good Luck Charm" can net up to $20,000. If you have an original copy of The Beatles "Yesterday and Today," also known as The Butcher Album, it could fetch up to $125,000.
Other notable high-value albums include:
· Hell Hound on My Trail (Robert Johnson): up to $10,000
· Velvet Underground (debut demo acetate): up to $25,000
· Hear The Beatles Tell All: up to $30,000
· Street Fighting Man (The Rolling Stones): up to $18,000
· Moody Blue (Elvis Presley, experimental colors): up to $2,000
In addition, some shellac 78 records can be quite valuable. For example, Delta Blues recorded on shellac circa 1929 to 1932 can be worth up to $500 or more.
The Most Valuable Vinyl Record In The World
"I bought many of them purely for the love of music, not realizing then they could be worth a lot of money down the road," he says. "It was probably in the mid-70's that I became aware there was a collector's market for records."
Today, Marshall (a.k.a. Mighty John Marshall) operates Money Music, a website dedicated to record values.
He said most collectors consider the world's current most valuable record to be Do I Love You by Frank Wilson on Soul Records (a division of Motown), for two reasons:
The record falls into the category of collectible records known as "Northern Soul," a term that came about several years ago when obscure soul music from the U.S. became in high demand in northern England.
The record is legendary in rock 'n roll circles. As the story goes, Frank Wilson, a record producer at Motown who had no interest in being a singer, was goaded into recording the song by Motown owner Barry Gordy. Eventually, Gordy prevailed and Wilson recorded the song, but when Gordy wanted Wilson to do shows to promote it Wilson refused. After an intense argument, Gordy demanded all copies be destroyed, so the only copies known to exist are promos sent to radio stations that bear the words "Promotional. Not For Sale."
An original copy of this record is worth up to $40,000.
Of course, it's not the only valuable record. As Marshall explains, the most collectible records are those recorded by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Original stereo copies of the Beatles album Yesterday and Today can be worth as much as $25,000.
Charlie Essmeier, who owns Rare Records and has been collecting and selling records since the 1970's, says the price tag for "the butcher album" could be even higher.
"Original copies of this album were made with a photo of the Beatles in butcher smocks, surrounded by pieces of toy dolls and raw meat. The album was withdrawn before release, but a handful of copies have survived," Essmeier explains. "In addition, several hundred thousand copies were shipped to stores with a new cover photo pasted over the original. It's possible – though not advised – to remove the second cover to reveal the first one. Prices can range from as little as $50 to as much as $75,000 depending on a number of factors. It's the valuable record that members of the public are most likely to have the original pressing of."
In fact, in 2016, a sealed mint copy of the record sold at auction for $125,000.
What About Shellac 78 Records?
Joe Lauro owns Old78s.com, and is perhaps the world's foremost expert on shellac 78 records. He says playback quality varies significantly between the shellac records produced by record companies.
"The usage of shellac became the norm circa 1900's, and the better the shellac, the better the sound of the record in terms of less surface noise," he says. "The smaller record companies that offered expensive records often mixed the shellac with other particles like sand or wood, and the result was a very noisy playing surface. Better companies like Columbia and Victor used superior quality shellac and the records sounded much better. The circa 1920's to early 30's Columbia and Okeh labels were the best, as their records were laminated with a cardboard core and much purer shellac playing surface."
Lauro says most shellac 78's are not rare as they were mass produced and billions of copies still exist. However, some notable albums are rare and can be valuable. They include "race" records and country/folk records that were produced for specific ethnic and racial groups, and were manufactured in far fewer numbers than their pop counterparts; and 78's produced by small labels during the Great Depression – specifically, between 1931 and 1933. For some, fewer than 500 copies were ever made.
Some blues, pre-1935 jazz, 1920's to early 30's string and country bands, and post-war blues (circa 1946 to 1960) recordings can also be valuable.
"The most valuable are rare Delta Blues recorded circa 1929 to 1932, which can run upwards of $500," Lauro says. "The most ever paid for a one-of-a-kind Delta Blues record was $50,000, but there are few people that would pay anywhere near that price."
Many valuable shellac 78 records were produced by labels like Paramount, Gennett, QRS, Herwin, Vocalion, and Black Patti.
Lauro says he will pay thousands of dollars for certain records on Paramount and other labels, but cautions: "Not all records on these labels are of value. It's just that the rarest ones often turn up on these labels. Value is driven by rarity and desirability. Just because it's 100 years old does not make it valuable. It's a matter of what the record is."
· Poor-selling albums recorded by famous artists before they became famous
· Albums produced by obscure labels
· Promotional copies made for radio stations
· Limited editions and foreign editions
· Unique picture sleeves
· Rare label variations
· Never-released copies (like acetates and test pressings)
· Recalled and withdrawn releases
· Colored vinyl and picture discs
· Still-sealed copies in excellent condition
· Autographed copies
· Format (mono, stereo, or quadraphonic)
Label variations can play a major role in record values. For example, an average copy of The Beatles "Yesterday and Today" is only worth around $10; but those that carry the red Capitol label can be worth up to $10,000.
Unique picture sleeves, especially for 45's, can be worth more than the records they contain. It's the picture sleeve that makes the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" worth up to $18,000.
There are four ways to find out how much your records are worth:
1. Check record prices online (search recently sold listings on eBay. You can also check Popsike, Collectors Frenzy, Music Stack and Value Your Music for historical pricing data)
2. Get a record price guide (Goldmine publishes a Record Album Price Guide, as does Osborne. For a CD format, you can buy Mighty John's Record Appraisal Guide)
3. Get your records appraised (experts like John Marshall and Joe Lauro offer appraisals for a fee. You might also consult an auction house, particularly if you suspect your records are valuable)
4. Ask record stores (both online and offline record stores offer appraisals)
Once you know how much your vinyl records are worth, you can sell them via:
· Online marketplaces like eBay, Discogs and Music Stack
· Online record stores
· Online collectors (check forums for buy/sell/trade threads)
· Local record stores and pawn shops
· Local marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
Follow these tips to ensure you're getting the best deal when you sell your vinyl records:
1. Know what you have: Spend time researching your records so you can properly articulate exactly what you have, avoid scams and get a fair payment
2. Properly care for your records: Store them vertically at room temperature and buy protective covers
3. Consider insurance: If your records are valuable, consider taking out an insurance policy to protect yourself in the event of damage or theft
4. Compare multiple options: Get offers from multiple buyers to ensure you're getting the best deal
5. Beware of scams: Be wary of counterfeit records, and never ship or sell without money in-hand (or at least escrow)
For more in-depth information on valuing and selling vinyl records, check out the original article on Flipsy.