Sound Advice: Tell if that old album is still sealed or re-sealed

By  Tim Neely

Question: How is it possible to determine if an old album that appears to be still sealed hasn’t been re-sealed? I have a copy of The Ventures In Space album that is tightly sealed in cellophane and a Trashmen Surfin’ Bird album that is sealed loosely in a plastic cover which is a little larger that the LP.

— Bernie Kester

This is a very important question, because the value for sealed albums, especially those from the 1960s, is skyrocketing. Legitimately never-opened albums from the 1960s, and sometimes more recent LPs, can fetch two to four times the price of the same album in near-mint (and opened) condition, and sometimes more.

But many “sealed” albums on the marketplace have been re-sealed over the years and are passed off as never opened. So if you are paying a premium for a vintage sealed album, do so from a reputable dealer who will stand by your purchase.

The 1960s is when the mass sealing of LPs began to take place. In the early 1960s, few albums were sold sealed, but by the end of the decade, almost all new LPs were. In the interim, some interesting compromises were struck: From about 1963-67, some, though not all, records pressed by Columbia came with an open cover and a sealed bag inside the cover that held the record. I think I’ve only ever seen one of these discs “still sealed” over the years.

In 1964, the first year of the British Invasion, many albums were still sold in open covers. I have a Beatles album from that year that still has a “Sears, Roebuck & Co.” price tag on it, affixed to the cover, thus implying the album was sold without shrink wrap.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson and on to the question.

The “loose bag” album by the Trashmen is almost certainly a legitimately sealed album from the 1960s. The earliest sealed albums I’ve encountered have this kind of packaging; I have a vintage Bill Doggett LP on the King label that, though not sealed, still has this kind of loose bag on it.

The Ventures In Space was in print long enough to undergo a label change (from Dolton to Liberty), even though the number stayed exactly the same. So that one isn’t so clear-cut. But 1960s albums tended to have a plastic cellophane seal that gets brittle with age, whereas by the 1970s, the shrink wrap on albums was more “filmy,” like plastic cling wrap. There’s a definite difference in texture between earlier tight seals and later ones. (This is also a good way to distinguish re-sealed LPs.)

Another thing I’ve often found on authentically sealed LPs from the 1960s is a vintage price tag, sometimes generic and sometimes from long-defunct retail stores, such as Korvette’s or Grant’s.

All that said, exceptions exist. Sometimes you have to go by instinct. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Question: My copy of the Beatles’ 45, Capitol 5407 (“Ticket To Ride”/“Yes It Is”), notes that it’s from the United Artists release “Eight Arms to Hold You.”  At some point did Capitol change the label to reflect that it came from the movie’s released title (“Help!”) or did all copies have the original working title?  Any special value to the 45s showing “Eight Arms” on the label?

Answer:  Every copy of “Ticket To Ride” that was issued on the orange and yellow swirl label contains the reference to “Eight Arms to Hold You.” This was never changed or removed, thus there is no special value attached to the record solely because of the wrong title.

Strangely, the reference to “Eight Arms to Hold You” remained on “Ticket to Ride” 45s for years! Later pressings of the song, including the Capitol “target” label, the Apple label and even the orange Capitol label, still claimed that the single came from “Eight Arms to Hold You.” Not until 1978, when Capitol started re-pressing Beatles singles on purple labels, was the reference to the nonexistent film finally dropped.

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