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How do you grade a still-sealed record?

It's one thing to grade a record you can play and inspect in depth. But what do you do when the record in question is still sealed? Luckily, Sound Advice has a few suggestions.

By Susan Sliwicki

Have you got a collecting-related question? We'd love to hear from you! We can't guarantee that every question will be answered, but all will be considered. Send your question, along with as much pertinent information as you can share, including pictures, to Goldmine via e-mail at, or mail a letter to Goldmine, Attention Sound Advice, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.

Meet the Beatles still sealed record

This Still-Sealed, 1964 stereo copy of "Meet The Beatles" (Capitol 2047) brought an impressive $1,434 (including buyer's premium) at auction. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

Question: My record has never been opened or played, so I don’t want to open it to grade it. What do I do?
— Mike, via e-mail

Answer: A Still-Sealed record is the record-collecting equivalent of the paradoxical thought experiment called “Schrodinger’s cat.” In the physics postulation, a cat placed inside a box could be either dead or alive (some interpretations say at some point, the cat is simultaneously dead AND alive), depending on a series of random events, for which the result is unknown until the box is opened.

Once the seal is broken on the album, you probably won’t find a cat in any condition, but you may find any number of things that could decrease its value — a damaged disc, a mis-labeled record, even the wrong record packaged inside (which happens more often than you think).

If your record is still factory sealed, leave it that way to maintain the potential value, and be sure to note that the record is in Still Sealed (SS) condition. If you suspect at all that the seal is NOT a factory seal — it is possible to re-wrap an already-opened album and pass it off as otherwise — get another opinion from a trustworthy dealer or appraiser before you open or sell it. If an expert determines that it is a factory-sealed record, be sure to note the information, just in case you decide to sell this record.

That said, Still Sealed doesn’t automatically mean Mint. Inspect the record and its package for things that you can see without breaking the seal. Is the cover dinged, creased or bent? Is there any kind of fading or sun damage that you can discern? Be sure to note those imperfections, as they can weigh into the record’s overall condition and ultimate value.

Meet The Beatles still sealed back cover

This producer's credit for George Martin, shown on the back of this still-sealed 1964 pressing of "Meet The Beatles," offers a pricing clue for this record. That credit, along with the green ink used for the word Beatles on the album's front cover (shown above), helps to identify the pressing. In 2006, the year this record was sold at auction, this same pressing in Near-Mint condition would have been valued at $75. However, this Still-Sealed version sold for nearly 20 times that amount at auction. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.