Saturday, 15 January 2011
How much is my old vinyl Beatles record worth?
It's the question most people ask themselves when they stumble upon a case of half-forgotten vinyl records in the attic. A lot of them wrongfully assumes that as long as it's got something to do with the Beatles, it must be valuable. Vinyl records are not scarce, and least of all Beatles records. Obscure artists and bands yes, Beatles no. Or at least, that's the general rule. After all, the Beatles was the best selling act in their time - naturally their records were pressed up in giant quantities compared to other artists. And when the first edition of a particular record was sold out, a new edition would instantly be made. And since the Beatles remained popular throughout the seventies and beyond, the record companies made sure they were always stocked up. So in general, all the Beatles standard albums, both in the USA, the UK and in most other countries remained available in record shops until CD's took over most of the market around the early nineties. In the last few years, vinyl albums have come in vogue again and the Beatles' albums have once again been re-pressed. In 2010, more new vinyl records were sold than in any previous year since 1991. And the best selling new vinyl album for the past two years in a row was "Abbey Road" by The Beatles. Even though a vinyl version based on the 2009 remastered CD editions has yet to be released. So if you happen upon a Beatles LP, it's not necessarily a sixties pressing. A 1978 pressing of, say for instance "Meet The Beatles" does not have the number 1978 written anywhere on the record sleeve or label, it still said 1964. Upon the initial release of Beatles albums on CD in 1987, no new pressings were made from the USA albums, only the standard UK releases were allowed further vinyl editions. And of those, only the ones that were released as CD's were allowed to be reissued on vinyl. So records like "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" from 1966 and "The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl" from 1977 fell by the wayside.
As you may have gathered by this blog post so far, you can't ask a Beatles collector if such and such album title is worth a lot. Rarities in Beatles collector's circles are determined not by title but by which pressing it is. Is it a sixties original first edition pressing? Or a later edition but still from the sixties? Is it in mono or stereo? East coast or west coast pressing plant? A seventies pressing? A foreign pressing? Does it come with the original inner sleeve? Is it scratched or does it play nicely? Is there writing anywhere on the sleeve or the label? Is the cover intackt or dog-eared and worn? Most old records are worn and have the original owner's initials or full name or even his full adress written on it. And it will be scratched or worse, and have dirt in the grooves. So if you're sure your old record is from when it was first released AND it's still in a great condition, only then can you speculate whether your record may be worth something.
That's the general information and applies to most Beatles records. And then there are the exceptions to the rule. Yes there still are some real Beatles gems to be discovered. More about real Beatles rarities in upcoming blog posts. One word of advice: If you happen upon an original copy of the US album "Yesterday...And Today", don't try to peel off the paste-on cover to reveal the underlying "butcher" cover. Too many people have done just that, so now it's more valuable unpeeled.