Market Watch: Perennial favorites make a strong showing in online auctions

By Susan Sliwicki

The classics never go out of style — or at least, that’s what it seems like from this week’s Web exclusive Market Watch column. Led Zeppelin, John Lennon and The Fab Four —they’re all here. Of course, there are a few entries that are a bit off the beaten path, too.

No. 2: Led Zeppelin test pressings

1. $5,845.89 — Led Zeppelin, still sealed test pressings from Classic Records Reissue box set.

This is the second set of still-sealed test pressings we’ve seen for this collection in recent months; set No. 2 of 5 sold for $6,100 in fall 2010. This collection of 200-gram, 45 RPM 12-inch discs — all still sealed and preserved in individual test pressing boxes — also included a 45 RPM single-sided test pressing of “Stairway to Heaven” and attracted 28 bids before going to a new home.

“These sets represent the ultimate in collectibles given that only five numbered sets were produced, assuring that it will likely skyrocket in price over the years to come,” the seller wrote. “If you are a Led Zeppelin nut (you know who you are) then this set is essential — of not, then go listen to some Barry Manilow!”

No. 2: "Please Please Me"

2. $4,528.82 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me” LP.

For a so-called holy grail, the Fab Four’s black-and-gold labeled “Please Please Me” in stereo (PCS 3042) sure makes a lot of appearances in the Market Watch countdown, and this week is no exception.

This copy — which the seller said had but “one careful owner” — earned a visual grade of VG++ and an audio grade of Excellent/Near Mint. Its cover (graded VG+/NM) retained the original brilliant colors and shows little storage wear save for a small split on the top edge.  It also boasts the rare A stamper on Side 1 and the R stamper on Side 2, which may be why it attracted 28 bids before heading to a new home.

Quick comparison: 11 other Market Watch entries of PCS 3042 over the past 12 months ranged from a curve-busting high of  $15,845.52 to a low of $3,668.96.

No. 3: Plastic Menagerie 45

3. $4,350 — The Plastic Menagerie, “Hold Your Baby Close” / “Trying to Come Back,” 45.

Finding a garage rock 45 at a garage sale would be fitting, if not exepected. But this seller was literally the proverbial kid in a Tennessee candy store, as this 45 on the Scope label was bundled up for sale in the same little white bags in which homemade chocolate were being sold.

“As far as the 45 goes, there is only one known copy that I’ve heard about, making this one of the genuinely rarest garage singles around — the world is simply flooded with Orlyns by comparison,” the seller wrote.

He graded the 45 at VG+, apart from a circular mark on Side 2 that causes a problem for one rotation.

No. 4: Fred and the Turbins 45.

4. $3,827 — Fred and the Turbins, “Bernadine” b/w “Till There Was You,” 45.

Ah, Northern Soul. We knew you’d be waiting in the wings of the Market Watch countdown! This time, it’s a VG/VG+ copy of Cenco 111.

“A petroleum product got on the record at some point and took the shine off a section comprising probably less than one percent of the total surface area,” the seller wrote. “Amazingly, the record still plays really well.”

The stains weren’t enough to put off potential buyers, who swapped 24 bids before a winner was determined.

No. 5: Lost John Lennon Tapes

5. $3,299.99 — Westwood One Lost John Lennon Tapes, double vinyl LPs.

Here’s a new Market Watch record for most bids exchanged on a single lot: 84. Of course, when you’re talking about an 11-volume set of double LPs for Westwood One’s “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio show, it all makes sense.

Most of the LPs in the lot came with certificates of performance and cue sheets. Topics included Lennon’s spiritual development, Lennon Live at Club Dakota in the late 1970s, The John & Yoko argument interview, John’s birthdays and John teaching his son, Sean, how to play guitar.

No. 6: The Alarm Clocks 45

6. $3,282.32 — The Alarm Clocks, “No Reason to Complain” b/w “Yeah,” 45.

The seller’s got no reason to complain after pulling in a handsome selling price for this 1966 garage/punk record on Awake 107.

The record, which was graded Near Mint, was the sole remaining copy of the group’s singer, Mike Pierce, to whom it had been recently returned, unplayed, from a family member who’d kept it since 1966.

“It still has the original paper sleeve and looks just as it did the day it was received from the Rite pressing plant,” the seller wrote.

No. 7: Dizzy Reece LP

7. $3,186.93 — Dizzy Reece, “Progress Report,” LP.

There’s not much to report on this lot, thanks to the seller’s stingy description.

The seller graded both the cover and vinyl, which had a few light surface marks, in EX condition.

He also mentioned that this original UK LP was in mono format and issued in 1957 by Tempo Records (TAP 9). And then, that’s it.

Guess short and sweet worked fine, as this goody brought 23 bids before a winner was determined.

No. 8: Devy Erlih boxed set of Bach

8. $3,058 — Devy Erlih, 3-LP set of Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin.

This classical gem issued on the Ades Label (13054, 3055 and 13056) was made in France and includes a picture sleeve. The records graded EX to EX ++, with a few light tics or marks here or there. Not bad for something around since the 1960s, though.

“Beautiful and so rare,” the seller wrote.

No. 9: "Please Please Me" mono

9. $2,874.79 The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP.

And, here’s another dose of the Fab Four’s “Please Please Me,” this time a first-pressing mono copy on the Parlophone label (PMC 1202) that comes complete with the Emitex inner sleeve.

The labels clock in at E+, the cover rates as E, and the record earns marks of Excellent for both play and visual grades. Forty bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

No. 10: The Fix 45

10. $2,716 — The Fix, “Vengeance” b/w “In This Town” 7-inch single.

We’ve seen this record on the Touch and Go label — of which only 200 copies reportedly were pressed — a few times in the past 12 months. But this copy didn’t fare as well as previous Market Watch entries that drew $3,227, $3,383 and $4,250 in summer and fall 2010.

“This record has never been played and kept in its sleeve,” the seller wrote. “Some wrinkling of the sleeve but the only real imperfection is the Flag bars, otherwise this record is mint.”

Note to sellers: We know you’re excited that you have a rarity, and we know you want to emphasize how nicely the record’s been kept. However, any time words like “wrinkling,” “otherwise” and “imperfection” are part of your description, what you’re selling is NOT mint.

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