By Susan Sliwicki
When you think of items that command six-figure price tags, fine art, fine wines and fine jewelry may spring to mind. This week, you can add fine vinyl to the Market Watch list.
Was it a single rare record or a big lot? How much did the seller pay? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out! (And no, we’re NOT condoning the use of fiscally irresponsible practices as a way to finance record collecting.)
10. $1,977 — Elvis Presley, “International Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada, Presents Elvis August 1969,” box set.
Here’s a box-set goodie guaranteed to please die-hard Elvis fans. The VG++ records are the double-LP “Elvis In Person at the International Hotel” and “Elvis Back in Memphis” (RCA 6020); “From Elvis in Memphis” (RCA LSP 4155); and “Elvis NBC TV Special” (RCA LPM 4088). The records are enclosed in a VG++ outer box, which also contained two programs, two 8×10 glossy photos of Elvis and five 1969 Elvis wallet calendars. Twenty-seven bids were swapped before a winner was declared.
9. $2,150 — Leroy Wilkerson, “Backfired” b/w “Sindi Queen,” 45.
Nothing like a little rockabilly to shake things up on the countdown. This ultra-rare record on the Cool Valley Country Label (G 1175) from St. Louis earned raves from the seller, who gave both the record’s VG++/E condition and its contents a big thumbs up.
“Wow! This 45 truly is AWESOME! The music is excellent, and the 45 is in such amazing condition (I can’t even believe it)…” the seller wrote. “The record is truly amazing all the way around.”
The record drew 19 bids before the auction closed.
8. $2,158.79 — The Beatles, “Something New,” LP.
The high-gloss shine on this U.K. stereo first pressing of CPCS 101 on the Parlophone label belies its true age.
“The vinyl looks like a mirror and is stunning. NOT the typical scratched copy!” the seller wrote.
The record earned a play grade of Mint Minus; it has an EX cover, EX++ labels and the original Emitex liner, also in EX++ condition. Its yellow and black label includes the line “Sold in UK subject to resale” absent in later pressings. The record also bears the 1G stamper.
7. $2,200 — Mr. Lucky, “Born To Love You” / “Taking A Chance on Love,” autographed 45.
How apropos that our Lucky No. 7 spot goes to Mr. Lucky — aka Lucky Jamal Davis — this week.
And the lucky buyer got a bonus: This Stardom Records 45 (S-2003) was autographed by the artist on the flipside label. The seller touted the record as “one of the rarest Northern Soul 45s of all time” and gave it a grade of VG+.
“This is one of those records that you will probably never see in person unless you own it,” the seller wrote.”
6. $3,000 — The Beatles, “Introducing The Beatles,” LP.
The Fab Four check in for their second countdown appearance with this stereo “ad back” version of Vee Jay’s “Introducing The Beatles” (VJLP 1062.)
“I’ve been buying records for over 40 years and this is by far the rarest Beatles LP I’ve ever come across,” the seller said. “You decide if it’s legit. I believe it is.”
While it’s low-luster appearance suggests a grade of VG, a playthrough earned the record earned a grade of Mint Minus from the seller. The VG+ cover bears some faded writing, edge wear and scuffs.
5. $3,200 — Led Zeppelin, “Led Zeppelin I,” LP.
The seller touts this copy of “Led Zeppelin I” (Atlantic/Polydor 588171) as “one of a kind and totally immaculate — never seen on eBay.”
So does it deserve the hype? The seller is only the second person to own the record. The heavy-duty vinyl and sleeve have been stored separately in a safe for years, all of the album’s components grade Mint Minus. The stampers — 588 171 A 1 (side 1) and 588 171 B 1 (side 2) — are the earliest known mother stampers for this record, the seller added.
And, oh, yeah, it’s a withdrawn first pressing that features turquoise letters instead of the well-known orange ones on the cover.
“Word has it that it didn’t look good enough when displayed in the record stores,” the seller said. “A small number went, however, on sale, and most offered for sale are of much poorer condition than this exact copy.
And, in the self-fulfilling prophecy department: “The album cost about 2,000 GBP to record in October 1968, and I would not be surprised if this exact copy will sell for more,” the seller wrote.
Counting only on the basis of the number and not the implied price with 42 years worth of inflation taken into account, this seller did, in fact, manage to top the 2,000-pound mark when the lot sold on Jan. 20, 2011 — by precisely 66 cents, according to the Oanda.com currency converter.
4. $3,205.99 — David Oistrakh and Lev Oborin, Beethoven sonatas, 5-LP series.
C’mon. You knew it was just a matter of time until some classical music showed up on the Market Watch countdown, and this lot is a beauty. Violinist Oistrakh is accompanied by pianist Oborn in this group of five LPs, each with the same photograph on the cover but different color bands to behind the listings of recorded sonatas and opuses (or opera, for you classical music and grammar sticklers).
“Records and covers in Near Mint condition,” the seller wrote. “No signs of use, probably never or very little played.”
The records are pressed on the Philips label and carry catalog numbers 834 150 AY through 834 154 AY.
3. $3,575 — Robert Johnson, “Sweet Home Chicago” b/w “Walkin’ Blues,” 78.
This seller went old-school with his record grades: N-, E, V, G, F, P. This 78 earned a V- grade, which means it has obvious wear and use, little shine remaining, but still can play satisfactorily; the seller added that the record had an edge chip that was only visible on the B-side and didn’t affect playback. Near as we can tell, that puts the record toward the G+ end of the Goldmine grading spectrum.
“A decent copy, better than some I’ve seen graded higher!” the seller wrote.
But I digress with grading semantics. It’s a freakin’ Robert Johnson blues record, and not one that we’ve seen in Market Watch in recent months. It drew 17 bids before a winner was declared, a testament to Johnson’s incredible staying power nearly 80 years after his death.
In the last year, Johnson’s 78s have appeared periodically at online auctions for a range of prices. The high point was the $12,100 paid for NM copy of Vocalion 04108 sold in October 2010. At the middle of the pack were sales of $2,027, $3,506.58 and $2,970.41 for VG+/VG copies of Vocalion 03416 sold in March, August and November 2010 respectively. A G+/G copy of Conqueror 8944 sold for $2,002 in November 2010, and an ungraded copies of Vocalion 04002 and Vocalion 03416 sold for $1,525 in June 2010 and $1,376 in February 2010, according to popsike.com.
2. $4,398 — Scorpio and His People, “The Unforgiven” b/w “Theme From The Movietown Sound,” 45.
Scorpio and His People make a return engagement to our countdown, this time securing the No. 2 position with a NM- copy that appears unplayed. And, yeah, the seller used the phrase that dare not speak its name here in Market Watch land.
“I hate to use the term ‘Holy Grail,’ but this one may actually qualify,” the seller wrote. “Possibly the sixth or seventh known copy (?).”
These intrepid funksters were last on the countdown in fall 2010, when a VG- copy of International Hits 712 sold for $3,826.77. Only two copies of the record were known to exist when that copy, thought to be the third, hit the market. We’re not sure where our seller heard about copies four through possibly seven, but it would be great to nail down just how many of these 45s really are floating around.
1. $125,000 — The Beatles, “Introducing The Beatles”, LP, still sealed.
Yes, you read that right: $125,000 paid for a single record.
But it’s not just any record. It’s a factory-sealed copy of The Beatles’ “Introducing The Beatles” first stereo release on Vee-Jay (VGLP 1062), complete with the original $1.99 Alexander’s store label — the only version like it known to exist, according to the seller.
This just goes to show you how so-called book prices go right out the window when buyers deem a record to be desirable enough and scarce enough. In fact, our seller seemed a bit annoyed with some of the e-mails he received before a single seller bit on the buy-it-now price.
“Please stop sending me e-mail telling me what it is worth; you never seen the record in person,” the seller wrote.
Whether the sale will ultimately go through remains to be seen.