Market Watch: Beatles records hit all the right notes with online buyers

By Susan Sliwicki

The Beatles are admittedly a Market Watch staple, but securing four fab spots in this edition’s countdown — including the No. 1 and 2 spots with different pressings of the White Album — is the kind of feat that only the lads from Liverpool could achieve.

1.$4,956.29 — The Beatles, “The Beatles” (White Album), LP. This ultra rare, low-numbered, 1968 U.K. mono first pressing — complete with poster, photos, spacer and black inner liners — turned a few heads at auction, with 21 bids getting swapped before it found a new home.

The seller shared the story of how the art for the album — which originally was going to be called “A Doll’s House” — came to be the familiar stark, white cover, thanks to the suggestion of artist Richard Hamilton.

“He suggested that rather than adding to the number of garish sleeves already in existence at that time that they should make the cover look distinctive by putting nothing on it at all except the title “The Beatles” and to give each issue its own number,” the seller wrote. “Also, the sleeve was given its openings at the top instead of the side, again another first for its time.”

The seller declined to give technical grades for the records or its contents, instead indicating that the labels on the records are in “superb” condition, the glossy vinyl displays a stunning “mint appearance” in normal daylight, and the audio play is “flawless.”
“Copies numbered this low do not surface for sale that often, and one numbered below 100 will without doubt be a real jewel in any Beatles collection,” the seller wrote.

2. $4,945.14 — The Beatles, “The Beatles” (White Album), LP.
Coming in just a few dollars shy of our countdown leader is a second copy of the White Album, this time the U.K. Parlophone/Decca stereo pressing issued by EMI for export purposes only.

According to the seller, the export copies were the same as the U.K. issues, featuring gatefold numbered sleeves, black inners, and a poster, except these pressings had the well-known black and yellow Parlophone label (P-PCS 7067) instead of the new Apple labels.

“There seems to be some uncertainty as to just how many copies were pressed by Decca, but what is certain is that the numbers were very few and very limited,” the seller wrote. “It has been suggested that fewer of these Decca pressings exist than the infamous ‘black and gold’ stereo, (reputed to be just 900?) and whilst that suggestion is open to debate, what can’t be disputed is the fact that this particular contract pressing appears for sale on the open market far less often than the “black and gold” stereo, and both of these albums are not considered amongst the all-time rarest U.K. records of all time and of any artist.”

Again, the seller offered no specific technical grades for the record, labels, cover or sleeves, other than “overall super condition throughout,” according to the buyer.

Beethoven Box Set

3. $4,000 — Paul Makanowitzky-Noel Lee, Beethoven sonatas 4-LP box set. Roll over, Beethoven. The Beatles may be before you in the countdown, but you beat out the Fab Four for the No. 3 spot, this time with a lovely mono box set on the Lumen label. The seller had little to share about this offering except for numbers (LD-3-416, LD-3-417, LD-3-418 and LD-3-419) and the condition, giving the cover and box a grade of Mint and the records a Near Mint Minus.

4. $3,668.96 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP. The U.K. stereo pressing of this record (PCS 3042) has become a regular in our countdown, appearing about a dozen times since January. The seller touts that the record has an A stamper for Side 1, the rarest stamper of all, and an R stamper for Side Two. The vinyl earned a visual grade of VG++, but a play grade of NM.
“This album has had one very careful owner,” the seller wrote. “All in all, a fantastic copy of this very, very rare record.”

5. $3,050 – Imperial C’s, “Someone Tell Her” / “I’ll Live On,” 45. Twenty-two bids were swapped before this gorgeous Northern Soul 45 on the Phil-L.A. of Soul label found a new home. We were won over by record’s clever label name and fun fishbone logo.

“We don’t use the grade “Mint,” but this thing looks Mint!!” the seller wrote. The flip side, “Someone Tell Her’ is a white label D.J. copy, with a black marker X on that label, while “I’ll Live On” bears a yellow label.

6. $2,950.08 — Robert Johnson, “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” / “Terraplane Blues” 78.
This Robert Johnson 78 on the Vocalion label (03416 ) makes a second Market Watch appearance in four months. This copy is in VG to VG+ condition, with a sticker “Master 2” appearing on the “Kind Hearted” side’s label.

“This man’s original discs are so scarce that even the most diehard record collectors may have never seen something as rare as this,” the seller said.

Does anyone else sense an imminent “holy grail”-related description coming up?

“‘Impossibly rare’ and ‘incredibly rare opportunity’ are the kind of phrases that seem to bounce around eBay attached to the most ordinary records, but this kind of disc justifies the hype! It rarely turns up for sale as a first-issue pressing in brilliant playable condition like this, so seriously, don’t miss out.”

Despite the seller’s enthusiastic pitch, the record’s final sale price didn’t hold a candle to the last time it appeared on the countdown for $3,428.92. This copy  also bears a label or sticker of some sort a previous owner had applied to the “Kind Hearted” side of the disc. Could it be the same record, sold at a loss? It’s too hard to tell for sure from the photos, but we suspect it might be.

7. $2,831.18 — The Cure, “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” acetate.
Regardless if you like The Cure’s music, anytime you can get a rare U.K. acetate in a custom picture sleeve, it’s a collecting win-win in our book.

Issued in the U.K. with a Strawberry Mastering label in 1979, this record is a “serious rarity” that grades in NM condition, and the cover pulls in an Excellent rating, the seller said.

“This acetate was sent out to a reviewer in a custom sleeve which is actually one big piece of paper that’s folded over and cellotaped on the rear. There would have been a mere handful of these, and how many have survived is anybody’s guess,” the seller wrote. “The disc is in superb condition and appears unplayed, while the makeshift sleeve has two tiny splits on each side, caused by the tightness of the wrap around.”

The sleeve is a proof from the printers, and the piece comes from the collection of a reviewer who worked for Music Week and Record Mirror in the 1960s to the early 1980s, the seller said.

8. $2,810 — The Beatles, “That’ll Be The Day” / “In Spite of All the Danger,” 78.
Here’s one you don’t see every day: a 1958 recording of the band that evolved into The Beatles. Technically, The Quarrymen were the musicians who made the recording, with John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lowe and Collin Hanton, credited on the record, the seller said. (We won’t quibble too hard with the seller labeling it as ‘The Beatles’ to draw in bidders, which it did quite handily with 30 bids being swapped).

“This recording wasn’t available until it was released on The Beatles Anthology Volume 1 in 1995, and ‘In Spite of All The Danger’ was edited a little,” the seller said. This copy has a 2 minute, 48 second version, which is shorter than the more familiar 3 minute, 44 second one, the seller said.

When inspecting the recording with backlighting, the seller also noticed three extra holes in the record that are hidden by the label. Sounds like a magical mystery in the making!

9. $2,771 — Stross Quartet, “Haydn’s Quintet for Strings,” three 78s. This pressing on the German Polydor label is another example of classical music making serious inroads in Market Watch. All of the records (LM 68259-LM 68261) were pressed in the 1940s and grade in EX condition. They feature the green and gold Polydor label. It comes from the seller’s private collection.

Dobby Bragg Fire Detective Blues
10. $2,749.99 — Dobby Bragg, “Fire Detective Blues” b/w “Single Tree Blues,” 78.
The seller says this E+ copy on the Paramount label (12827) is one of his favorites. “A Roosevelt Sykes masterpiece,” the seller writes. “What an extraordinarily beautiful copy of an extraordinarily rare Paramount. This may well be as fine a copy as there is.”

4 thoughts on “Market Watch: Beatles records hit all the right notes with online buyers

  1. Re: ins spite of all Danger/that’l be eth day.

    I though Sir Paul McCartney now owned the sole copy of this record. This sounds like a bootleg/pirate. I don’t see Macca parting with his copy for a few extra thousand pounds

  2. The Biggest collection of 78’s Blues/Soul is or was owned by Bob Mayes,Shop; 8 mile rd, Detroit.

    1: The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger (1958 UK private press 78rpm, £150,000)
    Only one copy in existence, and Paul McCartney owns it. He repressed a batch in 1981 on 45 and 78 for friends, and even the repress goes for £10,000.
    2: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967 USA Capitol SMAS 2653, LP, £62,000)
    Around 100 copies in existence. Artwork features the faces of various Capitol execs pasted over those of the Beatles and some of the historical figures on the cover.
    3: Son House – Dry Spell Blues Pts. 1 & 2 (1930 USA Paramount 12990 10” 78, £31,000)
    Any Son House 78 on Paramount is worth a small fortune.
    4: Willie Brown – M&O Blues/Future Blues (1930 USA Paramount 13090 10” 78, £15,500)
    Of the six sides Willie Brown recorded for Paramount, these are the only two where original copies are known to still exist.
    5: Skip James – Cherry Ball Blues/Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues (1931 USA Paramount 13065 10” 78, £15,400)
    Said to be near impossible to find in playable condition.
    6: Jackie Brenston – Rocket 88/Come Back To Where You Belong (1951 USA Chess 1458 7” 45rpm, £12,500)
    Only six copies pressed on 45.
    7: The Prisonaires – There Is Love In You/What’ll You Do Next (1954 USA Sun 207 7” 45rpm, £12,500)
    Only three known copies.
    8: Joe Hill Louis – Boogie In The Park (1950 USA Phillips 9001 10” 78rpm, £7,500)
    First release on Sam Phillips’ first label, pre-Sun.
    9: Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen/No Feelings (1977 UK A&M AMS 7284 7” 45rpm, £7,500)
    Infamous UK punk grail.
    10: The Beatles – The Beatles (1968 UK Apple PCM/PCS 7067/68 individually-numbered 2LP, £7,000)
    Mint low-number copies of The White Album are highly sought after. I think no. 0000011 went for something near £7k relatively recently. Four of the first five numbered copies (but not no. 0000001, so rumour has it) are/were owned by The Beatles themselves.
    11: Daniel Augusta Hunt – Lonesome Old Jail/Greyhound Blues (1953 USA Sun 183 7” 45rpm, £6,200)e
    Scooped by John Tefteller on eBay in 2009 for $10,000. Even Sam Phillips himself didn’t think this existed on 45.
    12: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love With My Car (1978 UK EMI 2375 7” 45rpm, £5,000)
    200 copies on blue vinyl, given away to execs and journalists at a dinner to mark EMI Int’l winning the Queen’s Award For Industry in 1978.
    13: John’s Children – A Midsummer Night’s Scene/Sara Crazy Child (1967 UK Track 604005 7” 45rpm, £5,000)
    Withdrawn 45 from Marc Bolan’s stint with John’s Children is a grail for both psych- and Bolan-collectros.
    14: The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963 UK Parlophone PCS 3042 LP, £3,000)
    Mint mono copies with the black/gold label are scarce, and mint stereo copies are scarcer still.
    15: Billy Nicholls – Would You Believe? (1968 UK Immediate IMPC 009 LP, £3,000)
    Only 100 finished copies entered circulation before Immediate went bust.
    16: Washboard Sam – Diggin’ My Potatoes/Bright Eyes (1953 USA Chess 1545 7” 45rpm, £3,000)
    Re-recorded version of his 1939 hit.
    17: Turner Moore – I’ll Be Leaving You/I Love You Tenderly (1959 USA Mel-O-Tone 1147 7”45rpm, £3,000)
    Rockabilly grail.
    18: Tinkerbell’s Fairydust – s/t (1969 UK Decca LK/SLK 5028 LP, £3,000)
    UK psych grail that never got a full release because the band was dropped. A handful of finished copies made it out into the world.
    19: John Lennon – Unfinished Music No.1 (1968 UK Apple APCOR 2 LP, £3,000)
    Stereo copies fetch £500, but the withdrawn mono pressing goes for six times that amount.
    20: David Bowie – Space Oddity/Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud (1969 UK Philips BF1801 7” 45rpm, £3,000)
    Stereo copy with picture cover – it’s the cover that commands the price.

Leave a Reply