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How and Where to Sell Old Phonograph Records
Have you explored your ABCs lately, be it the attic, basement, or closet? They can earn extra money and free up valuable space in your home for other needs. LPs (slow-playing 10- and 12-inch discs, playing at 33 1/3 rpm), 78s (breakable discs, playing at 78 rpm with one tune per side) and 45s (7-inch discs playing at 45 rpm) are valuable can be
The record collecting hobby is just starting to take off after many other collections have caught the attention of antique shops and the media. Creating them is not an expensive hobby, but destroying them can be expensive in many ways.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE VALUE
A lot of people think that records are only valuable because they’re old. Few records have real value to collectors and dealers. The value is based on a combination of three factors –
(1) Supply and demand. How available is the recording? If it sells for millions the first time, it’s likely to show up in tons of stores, vintage record stores, and lots of homes. The scarcity factor must be there. The demand for the recording should depend on the artist (eg a major talent who died young or before many recordings) and the label it was recorded on (an original record as opposed to a “re-issue”). , or oddities related to recordings (eg, V-discs, wartime government tapes or airchecks from radio broadcasts, original picture discs or 10-inch LPs). Whether or not a record is “out of print” (unavailable from the manufacturer) affects the scarcity factor, thereby reducing supply. “Bootlegs” (illegally produced recordings from live performances or broadcasts) are also valuable for collectors.
(2) Terms of Registration. Those with surface noise and scratches will be of little or no value. If it is in “mint” (perfect) or “near mint” condition, it will have the highest value. A recording in “excellent” condition should have no distortion or loss of sound quality. “Good” means easily enjoyable, even though it may have some flaws. “Fair” means that it’s playable, but the sound is noticeably degraded, detracting from your enjoyment and the value of the recording. Some dealers may have slightly different ratings.
(3) Contents of records. In general, music is more interesting than speech or comedy recordings, and the value of this will be greater. Certain types of music records have high sales. Jazz music, Broadway original acts, and movie soundtracks tend to generate more active markets and more value. Also, early rhythm and blues records and doo-wop records are highly prized and collectible. Of the classical records, the most valuable are orchestral, then solo, chamber music, concertos, solo and operatic arias, and finally complete operas. For some collectors, whether a recording is mono or stereo affects value. Recently, there has been a booming market for early vintage rock recordings, particularly of deceased cult figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. There is also a brisk trade among 45s collectors, especially 1950s rhythm and blues and early rock artists. There is a lot of interest in the rare and unusual (like foreign affairs) of Elvis and the Beatles. However, most of their recordings have little value because they are mass-produced and lack any distinguishing characteristics. In other words, they were all the same.
WHO WILL RECEIVE YOUR RECORDS?
Records are bought by collectors, mail-order dealers, second-hand record stores, and the general public, sometimes out of nostalgia or because of a favorite artist. For really rare records, the best prices will come from dealers who know the market and how much they can sell for. Collectors are passionate and sometimes fanatical about their specialty collections. They may pay a premium for a certain uniqueness. It’s unusual for a rare record to fetch top dollar from a “total lot” that only recognizes performance value, not resale or trade-in value. Determining value requires painstaking research and knowledge of the record industry and artists. Of a specific post. Once it is determined that it is indeed rare, it may be possible to determine the meaning of the “rare” record.
WHAT WILL THEY PAY?
Most records that aren’t “rare” can fetch only pennies, or 25 cents on the dollar, from dealers. The “general public” can pay $1 or $2. Rare records can fetch anywhere from $25 to several thousand. A number of price guides are published, but stated values are often based on highly inflated or isolated sales. Obviously, collectors and dealers want to read that records fetch high prices. Remember, value lies in the mind of the buyer.
HOW DO YOU FIND BUYERS?
For every record you want to sell, there’s probably a buyer somewhere in the world. How to find that person is a big problem. It’s not uncommon for people to find old records in their homes and spend many dollars (much more than the final record) and many hours chasing after a buyer. It can be very frustrating and sometimes overwhelming. Expectations almost always exceed reality.
Records can be sold through advertising – in local classifieds or collectors’ publications, by selling them at local second-hand record stores, by selling them at flea markets or markets, or by promoting garage sales. Start by cataloging the records. Please include the artist, title of the record, LP, 45 or 78 rpm, catalog number of the record, and its condition. Recommend the list to your librarian and some second-hand record stores for rarities. Talk to your friends and colleagues.
Sales involve buyers coming to your home. Or you can pack your records in the store to get a quote, take them to your cart, and have no sales. Damage in transit can render them worthless. Out-of-town prospects require postal correspondence, packing, insurance, carting to the post office, posting postage, and sending PBs.
©2007 Howard E. Fischer
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