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Market Watch: Elvis, Beatles, Police and Warhol rarities dominate our online auction countdown

No, you're not seeing double, but a lot of this week's Market Watch auction results sure look that way. Which artists have doubled up on the countdown? And whose double play brings in the biggest coin?

By Susan Sliwicki

After a week’s absence online, we figured we’d give you a double-shot of our Market Watch countdown. We just didn’t realize quite so many online auctions would unwittingly embrace the two-by-two theme, as multiple artists and genres have such similar entries, it’s almost kind of eerie.

Earning honorable mention is a Second-State copy of The Beatles’ “Yesterday and Today,” which narrowly missed making the countdown when it sold for $2,025. This stereo copy clocked in at VG++ for the vinyl. The cover, which comes with its original shrink wrap, earns a strong E++, according to the seller. See if you can find its partner further down in the countdown.

20. $2,258.12 — Sonny Clark, “Cool Struttin’,” LP. Here’s one of the few entries this week that doesn’t have a partner: an EX- copy of Blue Note 1588. Art Farmer (trumpet), Jackie McLean (alto sax), Sonny Clark (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Philly Jo Jones (drums) teamed up on the tracks “Cool Struttin’, “Blue Minor,” “Sippin’ at Bells” and “Deep Night.”

“One of the hardest jazz records to find with a really nice playback,” the seller said.

The record plays through but has a few tics and a pressing bubble at the start of the record that produces two sounds. The seller gave the sleeve a grade of EX, although it had a small piece of tape on the spine, minor corner wear and the shop stamp on the back near the opening; a shop stamp also appears on one label.

Sonny’s spent time on our countdown before, including the sales of “Dial S For Sonny” for $3,379 and “Sonny’s Crib” for $3,050, both sold in summer 2010.

19. Kelenkye Band, “Moving World,” LP. This “Afro Funk holy grail” on the Emporium Records label — seller’s words, not ours — was sourced from the album’s producer and label owner, Augustus Kerry Taylor.

“Best copy of this record ever on eBay with provenance!” the seller wrote.

The seller gave this copy of EMP 001 a grade of VG+ with a few scuffs and said the cover has “significant but tolerable wear,” including tears up and down the mouth, half of the top seam and two-thirds of the bottom seam, plus a 5-inch tear on the back cover.

Twenty-seven bids were exchanged before a winner was declared for this Ghanaian-pressed record.

18. $2,710 — Damon, “Song of a Gypsy,” LP. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but nobody ever said the same for an album, like this one from the late 1960s on the ANKH label.

“Ultra-rare original psych/folk monster — only 100 copies made of the textured gatefold cover with no selection number, the seller wrote.”

The cover comes in at VG+ condition, although the white inside of the sleeve shows some age wear, including foxing on Damon’s portrait and ripples where the pages were glued down. The record, which has a few light hairline scratches and an occasional tick, earned a visual grade of VG+ and a play grade of VG++

“Only three copies of this have shown up on eBay over the last 6 years, so it will be very hard to find a better copy,” the seller wrote.
A comparable VG++ copy sold for $3,218 in February 2010; an ungraded copy brought $2,999 in December 2008 and an EX copy brought $2,550 in May 2002, according to

17. $2,917.62 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP. The seller gladly took the $2,917.62 “best offer” price for this “transitional label” copy of PMC 1202, which bears a first pressing Dick James label on one side, and a Northern Songs label on the other.

“There couldn't have been more than a handful of these pressed,” the seller wrote. “These are rare. These found in this condition are one-offs, believe me.”

The NM record appears to have been played only two or three times, and the sleeve grades NM/EX+.

The seller gets kudos from us for the most unusual descriptive line we’ve seen used in a while: “Still smells new, though, nearly 50 years later.”

16. $3,128.78 — The Dead Weather, “Hang You From The Heavens” b/w “Are Friends Electric,” 7-inch test pressing. For a so-called rarity — only 150 copies of TMR-100 were pressed for the opening night of Jack White’s Third Man Records — we’ve seen a disproportionate number of these one-of-a-kind limited editions crack our Market Watch countdown in the last 12 months. These pressings were not sold in the Third Man Store, so the only way to get one was to be at the event.

The gold and black hand-painted jacket bears a burn hole motif and the fingerprint of a band member, the seller wrote. The artwork is believed to be by Jack White, based on the “III” signature in the art. The package also includes the photo booth shots of the band members.

Sixteen bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

15. $3,150 — Dead Weather, “Hang You From The Heavens” b/w “Are Friends Electric,” 7-inch test pressing.

“Yes, I found another one!!” the seller wrote in the opening sentence of his description for this 7-inch test pressing package, which features a cover painted and signed by Alison Mosshart.

Counting this entry and the one preceding it, five of the 150 test pressings made have hit our Market Watch countdown in the last eight months, and several others were sold, but didn’t register on our countdown, according to auction results at So far, the most expensive version sold for $3,901 in September 2010.

The eBay item location was listed at Seventh Avenue South in Nashville Tenn.; the Third Man Records location in Nashville is at 623 Seventh Ave. S. Draw whatever conclusions you wish.

14. $3,150 — The Beatles, “Yesterday and Today,” LP.

“Investment piece that will continue to increase in value!” was how the seller touted this custom-framed, first-issue, Second State stereo copy of “Yesterday and Today.” Certificates of authenticity from two Beatles experts were included in the lot.

“Second states are much more valuable than peeled because they are now rarer,” the seller said. “Seams are perfect, writing is clear, clean, as good as you’ll ever find.”

The record earned a play grade of VG++++ and the cover was graded VG++++ to NM-.

13. $3,303.39 — Leonid Kogan, “Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Etc.,” LP.

You knew it was only a matter of time until classical music hit this week’s countdown. The description for this U.K. first issue copy of SAX 2323 was short and sweet. The cover earned a grade of EX+, and the inner sleeve ranked EX.

“Rare Columbia LP in excellent condition,” the seller wrote. “I have play-graded excerpts and it is a superb, noise-free sound!”

Twenty five bids were exchanged before a winner was determined.
The last time we saw this record in our countdown was fall 2010. That time, it was a NM/NM- copy that sold for $3,000.

12. $3,304 — “Me and The Devil” b/w “Little Queen of Spades,” 78.

Robert Johnson’s alleged deal with the devil has been a blues legend for decades. Copies of Vocalion 04018, which features his song “Me and The Devil,” are no slouch in the legend department, either. A NM copy sold for $12,100 in an eBay auction held Oct. 31, 2010.

This copy graded VG- on the A side and VG to VG+ on the B side, and the label earned a grade of E-. Ten bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

11. $3,863.85 — Leonid Kogan, Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” and Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade Melancolique,” LP.

Violin virtuoso Leonid Kogan makes his second appearance in our countdown, this time with SAX-2329.

“A very rare Columbia LP in marvelous condition,” the seller wrote. “This is a superb copy and probably the best available.”

The vinyl earned a play grade of EX+, while the cover was graded EX++/NM and the original inner sleeve earned a grade of EX+

Thirty-two bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

10. $4,050 — “The Nation’s Nightmare: A Report on Crime in America in 1951,” LP. Albums featuring artwork by Andy Warhol have made a splash on the Market Watch countdown lately. We can only guess why; perhaps some sellers have seen what other Warhol covers are bringing at auction and decided to cash in, or it could signal renewed interest in Warhol’s art, as a 1967 self-portrait fetched $17 million at auction in February.

One thing we’re pretty sure about? Bidders for this lot likely were more concerned with the condition of the cover than the record it held.

“We are not sure if this is his earliest work for record album covers, but it definitely is work of his early career (and we believe he won an art award for the drawings that are used on this album),” the seller wrote. “The artwork on the cover is also on the labels of the record. Tehre are two scenes — one of a junkie sticking a needle in his arm, and one of two men fighting.”

The seller included the vinyl’s visual grade — VG/VG+ — in the description, but it was more for the sake of formality than anything else. The record came from a 1951 documentary and featured “tape recordings from back rooms and front offices of the underworld.” Given the choice of listening to this or being forced to sit through the Black Eyed Peas’ Super Bowl performance again, we’d pick this record hands down.

Nine bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.
9. $4,200 — Devy Erlih, Bach sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, 3 LP set.

“Wonderful, fantastic condition!!” the seller raved of this collection of ADES 13054-56. “It will be very hard to find these three records of the master Devy Erlih in better condition than this one, really.”

Last time we saw this trio of French-pressed records, they were in EX- to EX condition and sold for $3,605. This time, the covers and records earned grades ranging from NM to M. Our quibble? The seller gave play grades of Mint for all three of these records. In our book, once you drop the needle, you drop the grade to NM+, at best.

This grouping attracted six bids before a winner was declared.

8. $4,200 — Wurlitzer 1015 bubbler jukebox with assorted 45s from the 1950s and 1960s.

OK, technically, this entry is more about the jukebox, which is an authentic reproduction of a 1946 Wurlizter, than the records in it. The seller declined to detail just how many of his “personal and valuable collection of 45 RPM records from the ’50s and ’60s plus some ’70s and ’80s” were included in the lot, let alone the artists, songs or condition grades. Still, this one-owner piece features a walnut cabinet and is in excellent working condition, so it’s no surprise that it sold.

7. $4,320 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP.

OK. We all know stereo copies of “Please Please Me” (PCS 3042) are desirable and fans aren’t timid about parting with big bucks for a great copy, as evidenced by an EX-condition first-pressing U.K. stereo copy that brought $13,396.61 in March 2010.

So why do some sellers — including this one — feel the need to go over the top with the descriptions and bury the condition information? (Note: spelling errors are the lister’s).

“This is an extremly rare oppurtunity to own this rarest of all Beatles albums. This album on offer here was one of only 900 ever made, and with many being played to death in the early sixties, there can only be a few hundred left in existance. Just to put this into perspective the others on offer Ebay are priced at nearly £10,000. This is not just a record but a genuine exsisting piece of Beatles history and as such is bought by dealers all over the world as an investment that will steadily rise in value,” the seller wrote.

We suspect the flowery prose was meant to distract us from the grading disclosures, where we learn this nicest piece in the lot is an EX Emitex liner. The record graded VG with G and VG labels, and the cover, which contained writing by the song titles, earned a grade of G.

Still, $4,320 ain’t a bad price — well, for the seller, at least. Thirty-one bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

6. $4,383 — The Precisions, “My Sense of Direction” b/w “Take A Good Look,” 45.

Ah, Northern Soul. We were wondering where you were. Turns out you were holding out for the top end of the countdown.

“Super rare, only copy I have seen,” the seller wrote. “Great double sider.”

This copy of Hen-Mar 4501 earned a grade of VG+. Twenty-six bids were swapped before a winner was declared.

5. $4,500 — Mixed Feelings, “Sha-La-La” b/w “Love Will Find A Way,” 45.

A buy-it-now bidder was happy to snap it this glossy, VG+ promo copy of United 351, which features a rarely heard group soul ballad on its B-side.

“This is a stunningly great record with a reputation to match,” the seller said. “This record has only been on eBay twice that I know of in the past 10 years, selling for $4,950 once and $5,657 the other time.”

4. $5,100 — Ultra Violet, “Ultra Violet,” LP.
Here’s another Andy Warhol cover, but this time, it’s for the self-titled 1973 pop album by Ultra Violet, aka French author and artist Isabelle Dufresne.

“The record, is, of course, famous and sought after for its cover art, credited to Ultra Violet at the Andy Warhol Studio,” the seller wrote.
Although the record was printed, it was not distributed, according to Dufresne’s comments in “Andy Warhol — The Record Covers.”

The LP was not play tested or given a grade, only described as having “some scuffs and fingerprints, no deep scratches.” The cover has a few scratches and some ringwear, a large, cut-out hole on the top right and a bumped lower left corner.

Sixteen bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

3. $5,500.09 — Elvis Presley, “Speedway,” LP.

What’s better than a rare sealed record? Why, a rare, mono, still-sealed copy of an Elvis Presley record, of course!

This copy of “Speedway” (LPM-3989), issued in 1968, came from a collection of still-sealed Elvis records the seller had purchased a few months before from a collector who has put the record into storage immediately after he purchased it, the seller said.

“I have never seen or heard of another sealed “Speedway,” the seller wrote. “They could exist, but likely you will never see this offer again!”

Comparable NM copies of “Speedway” have an estimated value of $2,000, according to Goldmine’s “Standard Catalog of American Records 1948-1991” 7th Edition.

“‘Speedway’ mono has been reported as one of the top 10 rarest records in the world today; that is not just Elvis records, but for all records,” the seller wrote. “I have seen the book value on this mint range from $4,000 to $6,000, and that was for mint; this is still sealed and perfect.”

Forty-seven bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

2. $7,050.92 — The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” b/w “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” picture disc.

So what kind of price tag can you put on an unplayed prototype picture disc for The Police?

Well, if this auction is any indicator, about seven grand will do the trick.

This disc was one of a handful of surviving copies — it’s believed there were 25, but most were destroyed — of The Police prototype picture disc that A&M Records had commissioned but never manufactured commercially, the seller wrote.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase this ultra rare Police withdrawn picture disc,” the seller wrote. “It’s absolutely stunning.”

Thirteen bids were exchanged before a winner was declared.

1. $7,100 — The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” b/w “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” picture disc.


Well, what do you know? Apparently, there was a twice in a lifetime chance to purchase a withdrawn Police picture disc featuring “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” b/w “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” and the chances happened just a day apart.

Nope, it’s not the same disc, nor the same seller, let alone the same continent (No. 2 was sold in the U.K., No. 1 sold in the U.S.)
The seller is affiliated with a former vice president of A&M Records, who had obtained this copy of AM PR 04401 from a longtime co-worker who worked on The Police’s records and squirreled it away in his collection since 1980.

“The disc is in mint condition with a very gentle storage warp, not affecting play in any way,” the seller wrote. “A unique opportunity to obtain a truly rare Police record.”