Classical records clean up in online record auctions

By Susan Sliwicki

When it comes to Market Watch, The Beatles tend to pop up more often than Beethoven. Yet, in this countdown, classical recordings nab four of the Top 10 spots.

10. $4,145.40 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP.
The Fab Four kick off our countdown with one of our most frequent flyers: PCS-3042, the first U.K. black and gold label stereo pressing of “Please Please Me.” The seller estimates that only 900 copies were pressed, and cited an example that recently sold for more than £11,000. Of course, since this copy only earned grades of G+ for the cover, VG for the A side and a VG+ for the B-side, we think the seller certainly came out ahead. Twenty-four bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

9. $4,999 — Johanna Martzy, C’oup d’Archache test records set.
The seller, who bought this group of 15 records when they were first pressed and never played them, said that less than 10 sets of these one-sided English test pressings (Coup D’Archet 001-007) were issued. All the jackets and records checked in in NM condition. The featured works include Franck and Ravel violin sonatas, Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano and Beethoven C Minor and Dvorak E Minor trios featuring Martzy, Istvan Hajdu and Paul Szabo.

8 (right) and 7 (left). $5,300 and $5,467 — Century Symphony Orchestra, “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr.,” EP.
While classical music often finds itself on the Market Watch countdown, we suspect these next two entries have a lot more to do with the artwork, which was designed by a young Andy Warhol. Only a handful of copies of these 1956 pressings on the Camden label exist.
The copy of CAE 158 offered at No. 8 features a record that appears to have been unplayed and a cover that still has the Jordan Marsh pricetag on its back, the seller wrote. And, for you trivia buffs: The seller of No. 8 reveals that the Century Symphony Orchestra is a pseudonym for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  The copy at No. 7 earned a vinyl condition of NM+ and a jacket grade of EX. The record came from the estate of a collector who had purchased and stored thousands of records, most of which were never played  and many of which were still sealed. We suspect this won’t be the last rarity from this collection to hit our countdown. Both lots attracted solid attention from bidders: No 8 drew 16 bids and No. 7 received 11.

6. $5,689 — J.T. Parker, “If You Want To Hold On”/“It’s Too Late,” 45.
Northern Soul fans, this one’s for you. This original pressing of Academy 116 attracted 17 bids before it found a new home.  The labels earned grades of VG++, while the vinyl checked in a VG+ to VG++ due to a few light scuffs, a slight warp and a small, light scratch at the start of the B-side.

5. $5,866.13 — “The Beatles, Please Please Me,” LP.
For a record that is supposedly so rare, it seems a little odd that two copies of PCS-3042 show up in the same countdown. But, considering it’s The Beatles and the usual laws of supply and demand exist, it’s understandable. This first-pressing copy, which bears the Dick James credits, features crisp, clear audio on both sides, despite a few light marks. It earned an audio play grade of EX (but a visual of VG+).

4. $6,839 —Andre Levy, J. Gautier, G. Joy, “Faure Ravel Trios,” LP.
Classical music scores again, this time in the form of “one of the rarest A. Levy records in outstanding condition,” according to the seller. The seller didn’t give any formal grades on the condition of the record, label or jacket — simply stated it was a copy of Pretoria (30 CL 8001).

3. $6,726.49 — Various artists, collection of 2,400 rock and roll LPs.

We’ve heard from record dealers and a collectors that music-loving Baby Boomers are starting to part ways with their record collections, which creates great opportunities for the next generation of collectors to step up to the plate. This bulk lot of roughly 2,400 records featured artists including Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Genesis and The Who. Even factoring in that there are a mix of record grades — the seller said all of the records have been played, but some were bought new and some were bought secondhand — it seems like a pretty good deal when you average out the per-record price of about $2.80. If you missed this auction, keep your eyes peeled: The seller promises that the roughly 4,000 singles that were part of this collection, as well as music magazines and record cases, will be coming up to bid.

2. $10,500 — Various artists, “P.S. 186 Silhouettes in Courage,” LP.

The seller had very little to say about this record from a Harlem, New York, school dated June 4, 1970.” Not even grades were assigned to this copy of SIL K 5006. “Please look over all pictures carefully. We want you to be the judge, expert grader, authority … and hopefully the winning bidder,“ the seller wrote. There was only one buy-it-now bidder for the lot.

1. $19,756.78 — The Sex Pistols, “God Save The Queen”/“No Feelings,” acetate.

One of only two known copies pressed on the LTS Records label, this acetate was authenticated by David “Dizzy” Holmes of Detour Records, who owns the other copy, the seller wrote. The vinyl shows light marks and scratches but still plays “truly amazing,” the seller added.

 

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