By Susan Sliwicki
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones first stormed U.S. charts and countdowns in 1964. These days, their records are still large and in charge on our Market Watch countdown of the top online auction results. What other acts have joined them this time out?
10. $5,500 — The Beatles, “Ask Me Why,” EP. The struggling economy has hit collectors as hard as anyone else, and this seller admitted as much when when describing this copy of EI-903. The EP had been a gift from the seller’s uncle, who worked for Vee-Jay Records and other recording companies from the 1950s to the 1970s. “This item has been loved and taken care of,” the seller wrote. “It has been in a climate-controlled and smoke-free area.” The one-sided, black-and-white sleeve has some yellowing and an ink smudge, for which the seller graded it in VG condition. The vinyl was graded at G to VG condition; featured songs are “Ask Me Why,” “Anna,” “Misery” and “Taste of Honey.”
9. $5,597.93 — The Rolling Stones, “The Rolling Stones,” promotional LP. This lot was a bit of a mix-and-match affair, with a U.K. Decca pressing of the radio promotional LP (RSM.1) from 1969 paired with a U.S. sleeve. That didn’t seem to deter buyers, though, who swapped 36 bids before the auction’s close. According to the seller, a mere 200 copies of RSD-1 were pressed — 100 each for the U.S. and U.K. The sleeve and vinyl record, which had been in storage since they were issued, earned a grade of VG+ and E+, respectively.
8. $5,600 — The Remaining Few, “Painted Air/In The Morning,” 45. This seller gave the vinyl a visual grade of VG- and stated that there were “several marks and hairlines, but most do not affect play.” The seller also provided audio clips so interested buyers could give the record their own audio grade. While there weren’t any skips that we noticed, we heard an awful lot of pops and clicks. The second side was basically staticky-sounding from start to finish, and, no, we don’t think that was supposed to be part of the song. Still, this lot drew 11 bids, giving a nod to the seller’s assessment that this is an “unreal and scarce Texas psychedelic masterpiece.”
7. $5,904.17 — Witch, “Lazy Bones,” LP. Kicking off the first of this countdown’s entries to use “Holy Grail” in the headline is a Zambian pressing on the Teal/Zambezi label (ZTZ 1) described as Afro fuzz psych funk. “These crazy Zambian ‘Zamrock’ cats put out out several excellent albums during the early-mid ’70s but it’s this one in particular that is considered to be their masterpiece. The only other copy known to exist is the one that was used to produce the recent reissues on Shadoks records,” the seller wrote. After offering the following disclaimer — “Due to the nature of production quality from this part of the world back in those days, it’s quite hard to grade. However, it’s literally impossible to find in any condition, so here we have a very nice example.” — the seller graded the cover at EX-/VG+ and the vinyl and labels at EX. Twenty-four bids were exchanged before the auction closed.
6. $8,100 — Sex Pistols, “God Save The Queen/No Feelings,” 45. The seller had very little to say about this NM pressing of AMS 7284 from 1977. “Here it is, without a doubt, one of the most sought-after and collectible records of all time, a 100 percent genuine and original copy of the legendary ‘God Save The Queen’ by the Sex Pistols b/w ‘No Feeling(s)’ on A&M Records,” the seller wrote. Only two bids were made before the auction closed.
5. $10,000 — Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky,” 45. This copy of Elvis Presley’s Sun Records debut was billed as a “mint, unplayed” copy. Given that the record would’ve been pressed in 1954, that’s quite a feat. According to the seller, this copy came from the personal collection of Sun Records Promotion Manager Cecil Schaife, who received a box of 25 copies of this record directly from Sun Records’ head Sam Phillips back in the 1950s. “This 45 — being unplayed — is in mint condition. Its labels, which have the push marks caused by the equipment at Plastic Products (the pressing plant that manufactured Sun records at the time), are also in mint condition, with raw flecks still flaking off the spindle hole! You couldn’t have found a nicer copy if you’d walked into Poplar Tunes in July 1954 to buy one hot off the press — unbelievable!” the seller wrote.
4 and No 2. $10,500 and $11,100, respectively — Annlies Schmidt, “6 Suites Pour Violoncelle Solo,” LP box set. Nope, you’re not seeing double. The same classical music box set (Ducretet-Thomson, 300 C 043-45) popped up twice in one Market Watch Countdown, but from two different sellers. Our No. 4 entry offered a cover in EX+ condition, with the vinyl sides ranging from VG++ to EX+. The No. 2 entry only earned a grade of VG+ for the sleeve, but NM for the record; the box had damage on its angles, but it was still complete, the seller wrote. So how did the No. 2 entry fare better than the No. 4? Our guess is that No. 2 saw 14 bids before the auction closed, while No. 4 was a “Buy It Now” purchase.
3. $10,939.02 — David Bowie, “Hunky Dory,” LP. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Market Watch sale description that resembled a manifesto, but this one definitely lives up to that billing. This seller’s decription of “the FIRST. FIRST. FIRST. COMPLETE pressing of HUNKY DORY!!!!!” totaled 2,402 words. Many of those words were used to voice disapproval with Record Collector, as that magazine has not assigned a value this Nov. 19, 1971, Gem Records preview pressing of “Hunky Dory” with a sepia gatefold sleeve. The rest consisted of borderline creepy advice to bidders. “These RARE, SERIOUS auctions, and they are serious auctions, are only ever about who comes first and who comes second,” the seller wrote. “You will have the rest of your life to regret it, so bid to win.” The lot earned grades of EX (vinyl) and VG++ (cover) and drew 28 bids before the auction closed.
1. $17.469.59 — The Beatles, “Love Me Do,” demo 45. “This is renowned as being the rarest and most collectable Beatles single ever. It has even been referred to as the “Holy Grail’ of all Beatles records,” the seller wrote. And with that kind of billing, is it really any wonder that this VG+ copy of Parlophone 45-R 4949 attracted 26 bids before the auction closed? “This is a fantastic record, and I know that any real Beatles fan will be proud to add this to their collection,” the seller wrote. “After all with only 250 ever produced in the world, how many will have stood the test of time ... Half maybe?”