Thursday, August 5, 2010


Here's a neat article from across the pond:

By Adam Edwards

IT must be catalogued, in mint condition and great care should be taken with its handling. the picture on the face must not be damaged and it should be kept in a clear, see-through envelope. the rarer it is the more it is worth and unlike most antiquities a flawed example can be more valuable than the perfect original.

And no, we’re not talking about stamp collecting. today those who once might have steamed off the one- inch gummed square from an envelope or attended a weekend market to swap their twosomes and threesomes are nowadays more interested in seven or 12 inches of black plastic, known collectively as vinyl.

For collecting old pop singles and albums is, if you’ll excuse the cliché, the new rock and roll. this month, the world’s biggest dealers in collectable records, reported a 15 per cent increase in sales in the past trading year. the online operation of the British-based company has racked up sales of £50 million.

“We’ve seen an increase in sales of collectible stock all over the UK and abroad, especially in the USA and Japan,” said managing director Rob Croydon who nowaday s employs 40 people at the company’s HQ in Meopham, Kent. “A mint copy of a scarce single for example can be worth more than its weight in gold.”

This boom in vinyl has in turn seen a need for turntables. this week tesco announced that sales of its turntables have doubled every month since they started selling them in May. “Vinyl gives us something that downloads can’t – it is more tangible, you can keep it and collect it,” said Matt Finch of tesco. Collecting records for the baby-boomer generation was for a large majority an essential part of their early lives. In their teens and 20s when pop and rock music blossomed they bought the music by their favourite singers and bands on 45s and long players and spun them on their gramophones, Dansettes and hi-fi systems. Keeping a collection of the plastic discs (and frequently cataloguing them) was as important as shrinking one’s blue jeans in the dryer.

The arrival of the compact disc in the early Eighties spelled the end of vinyl. CD players replaced stereo systems and record collections disappeared into attics, charity shops and skips. A few of the obsessed kept their collections but most were switching their favourite sounds to CD.

And yet the arrival of the iPod/MP3 player and the downloading of music at the beginning of this century brought a surprising sea change – suddenly vinyl was back and it was cool. “When CDs and then down- loading music came along they offered more convenience and they seemed an exciting alternative,” said 42-year-old Jean Paul Cuesta-Vayon, who runs the Vinyl Junkies shop in Soho, central London.

“But as time has gone by music lovers have come back to the more lasting appeal of vinyl. You can’t beat records, they are not just more tactile and boast superior sound quality but they have wonderful art work.”

The result of this nostalgic return to the platter is that records have become highly collectable. And while the appeal of vinyl crosses all types of music from jazz to hip-hop it is the singers and groups with international appeal that have stood the test of time and which are the blue-chip investments. It is their records that in mint condition can be worth serious money.

Heading the list of collectable records are those by the Beatles.

Other bands whose rare discs are worth looking out for are the Rolling Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Queen and the Smiths. Record Collector magazine puts the first 10 numbered copies of the Beatles’ White Album as some of the most collectable records, each worth around £25,000 and possibly more. Other rarities include the Beatles’ single Please Please Me signed by all four members of the band that recently sold for £7,000, and Queen’s anniversary pressing of Bohemian Rhapsody in blue vinyl valued at around £3,000.

Professional collectors claim the rarest record – if it actually exists and came up for sale and its provenance could be checked – would be the Double Fantasy album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono allegedly autographed by Lennon five hours before Mark David Chapman assassinated him in 1980. If it went to auction it would sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds. So would that’ll Be the Day recorded by the Quarrymen in 1958 before three of them went on to form the Beatles. Sir Paul McCartney owns the only known copy. And then there is Bob Dylan’s the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, a very rare stereo copy of the album featuring four tracks deleted from all subsequent releases and worth six figures.

These one-offs are so rare they are museum pieces. For most of us it is a case of searching car boot sales, charity shops and eBay to find the bargain album that may be worth a few hundred pounds.

“Seven or eight years ago vinyl was dead as a format,” says Rob Croydon.

“Nowadays it is not only cool but collectable – rare records can be worth a lot of money. And unlike stocks and shares which have had a pretty unsettled time over the past couple of years, the collectable vinyl market is stable.”

According to Rob fi rst pressings are the most valuable as they were produced in small numbers before the record became a hit. Early demos, press copies and limited exports are also sought after.

Other things that make a record worth money are whether or not it was a commercial release or simply produced as a promotional record, whether it was recorded in stereo or mono and if it had any photographs or inserts and if so that they are still intact.

Most importantly however is rarity and how it has been looked after, just like a Penny Black stamp in fact. That was once produced in its thousands and yet today in mint condition it can fetch as much as £500,000. It’s very possible that they will one day be saying the same about vinyl.


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