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Sound Advice: Misprints, errors don't always mean big bucks

In each column, readers pose collecting-oriented questions to the Goldmine staff. Some of the questions will be general; others will be more specific.

By Tim Neely

Welcome to a new feature in Goldmine magazine: Sound Advice.

In each column, readers pose collecting-oriented questions to the Goldmine staff. Some of the questions will be general; others will be more specific.

Do you have a question for Sound Advice? We’d love to hear from you! We can’t guarantee that every question will be answered, but all of them will be read and considered. Click here to submit a question to Sound Advice now!

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Question: I recently was going through my parents’ 45s when I came across a copy of “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys. The strange part was that “I Can’t Explain” [the 45’s B-side] is listed on both sides. I did not know if this was a misprint and if it was, how many have been known to be like this?

Answer: Yes, it’s a misprint. But no, it’s nothing to get hung about, to quote John Lennon. There are hundreds of confirmed, and thousands of unconfirmed, examples of mistakes such as this. Any time an item is manufactured by humans with machines invented by humans, errors can happen. It is a testament to how good the process is that very few of these actually occur.

The errors most frequently seen involve the labels of the records. As in the case of the reader’s find, the same label appears on both sides, though the record plays two different songs. Another error that comes up every so often is having the labels reversed; in other words, the A-side’s label is on the B-side of the record, and vice versa.

By definition, because most records come off the pressing plants just as they were intended to appear, this kind of error is rare. However, just because something is rare doesn’t make it valuable.

Both coin and stamp collecting have an entire subset of collectors who seek, and pay a lot of money for, unintentional errors — usually many times more for the errors than for the correct version. There is no similar group in record collecting. Errors such as the one in the question may actually be worth less than the stated value in the Standard Catalog of American Records 1950-1975, because most collectors see them as flawed rather than unusual or unique.

The exact numbers of accidentally wrong copies of records can’t be accurately determined — perhaps a few dozen, a few hundred or a few thousand, or maybe even only one. But there has never been any significant collecting interest in these errors.

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Question: I have an LP that is supposed to be Double Vision by Foreigner. It is correct on side 1, but on side 2 it has the Rolling Stones, a side of Some Girls, I think. Is this album of any special value? —Bettina DeLaney

Answer: This is a different kind of pressing error than in the first question. This time, it is the music that was messed up, rather than the labels.

Why does this happen? In the case of both Double Vision and Some Girls, both albums were popular at the same time in 1978, and both were manufactured at the same pressing plant, and undoubtedly, someone put the wrong part on the press.

This kind of error happens less often than reversed labels or duplicate labels. But once again, these records are seen not as rare collectibles, but as flawed. Thus they don’t have any significant value.

There are exceptions, and they usually involve picture discs — albums that have graphics on the entire record, not only on the label.

For example, in 1982, Columbia pressed some copies of a Judas Priest picture disc with the music of Neil Diamond on them, and those are collectible.

But usually, if the wrong music is on the right record, there’s very little market for it.

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