Heavy Hitters, Day Two

Let’s get right to it: The Hank Mobley Blue Note 1568 from the Jazz Record Center sold for $7,600. Is that a record for a jazz vinyl record? I think it is. There was an earlier copy of Blue Note 1568 that sold for $11,000, but we later ascertained that was a bogus bid and the sale didn’t actually go through as described. Unless I get better information from someone in the Jazz Collector universe, I’ll assume this is now our apex. Not a surprise, although I had the record pegged more in the $6,000 range. I actually placed a rare bid on the auction, not for the Mobley record, since I knew that would be WAY out of my price range, and it was. No, after seeing Joe L’s comment on the previous post I became somewhat enamored with the idea of owning that test pressing of Horace Silver, Finger Poppin’, Blue Note 4008. Test pressings have never been my thing, but

the provenance of this one was extremely appealing. It had the note from Alfred Lion to Leonard Feather, asking him to write the liner notes. Talk about a one-of-a-kind item. Plus it had the stamped Blue Note address, the big Plastylite label and the strange letterhead from Alfred Lion that for some reason says: “Alfred W. Lyons.” What is that? Just writing about it now fills me with regret at not having won it, although I am sure I will survive I did have the dubious honor of placing second in the auction. I bid $621.11 and it sold for $631.11. There’s no knowing just how how high the other bidder would have gone, so I’ll never know how close I came, unless the winner is a Jazz Collector reader and chooses to come forward.

Between the Jazz Record Center auction and a couple of others I was watching, it was, indeed, a day for heavy hitters on eBay. Here are some of the other results for those of you keeping score at home.

From JRC:

Louis Smith, Smithville, Blue Note 1594: $2,000

Ike Quebec, Test Pressing of Easy Living, which wasn’t actually released until 1987: $2,025

John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell, Blue Note 1573: $1,749.74

Jackie McLean, Swing, Swang, Swingin’, Blue Note 4024: $898

Don Cherry, Complete Communion, Blue Note 4226: $465

James Moody With Strings, Blue Note 5005: $177.50


Donald Byrd, Byrd Blows on Beacon Hill, Transition 17: $2,449

Donald Byrd, Byrd-Jazz, Transition 5: $1,875.55

Jazz By Sun Ra, Transition 10: $2,800

And the final tally is: WOW!




  • I bid on Finger Poppin too, but alas I wasn’t the winner either. Very cool though.

  • Al, you should set up your hyperlinks to open in a new window. Keeps eyeballs on your site where they belong!

  • +1 Good suggestion!

  • How can you not like test pressings? Whether or not you like that version, you own a version that maybe only a handful of people have heard.

  • I love the hand written notes on the sleeve.
    I still often look at that treasure that was unearthed a couple of years ago here, the Duke Pearson A&R note pad listing details for various sessions.
    All those great little details, comments on takes, rehearsal, cab, food and drink expenses.
    Just Priceless.

  • Turbocharged Weasel

    Naw, a copy of Indeed by Lee Morgan supposedly fetched $7,786 in 2015. Whether or not that went through is a different matter entirely, since that’s about twice the second highest that release has ever reached. Either way, that’s enough of an anomaly that I think it’s safe to say 1568 is still the ultimate jazz price king, even if it possibly doesn’t hold the highest price ever reached at auction for a jazz record… possibly.

    I paid a visit to the Jazz Record Center when I was in New York City for the first time in the summer… It’s an interesting store. It’s in a room on the 8th floor of a building, and took a while to find (judging by their auctions, I was foolishly expecting some kind of grand building full of boxes upon boxes of beautiful vinyl with a glorious sea of isles of records in between, with the Ark of the Covenant sitting in a corner somewhere). It may have been a little hot and slightly cramped in there, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t leave with a Wynton Kelly 10″ (5025) and a Julius Watkins 10″ (5053) for $200 plus tax. Not bad. If I’m out across the continent again, I’ll stop by again. Seeing all the old Blue Note buildings was cool, too, although I was hoping at least one would have a mural, or something…

  • Or a statue? Funny, I live in Manhattan and never have made an excursion to the famous addresses on the record labels. I must do that. Perhaps I can start a tour, ala the Real Peterman tour on Seinfeld, give out muffin tops.

  • i have a mint mono copy of complete communion that i paid $25 for. i feel pretty smug about that today, i have to say.

  • Complete Communion is a fantastic album, but it wasn’t that long ago that you’d be hard pressed to get more than $100 for a sharp mono copy.

  • Those prices on Unity and Complete Communnion’re pretty baffling – hell, there’s a bunch of copies of Communnion on Discogs that look to be in similar shape and’re less than half the price. If a record’s hard to find I can understand overpaying due to not wanting to wait for another copy to come up for sale. But why spend so much if it’s for sale much cheaper elsewhere that very moment?

  • Turbocharged Weasel- What grade were the Wynton Kelly and Julius Watkins? $200 is an amazing price.

  • Turbocharged Weasel

    The buildings are pretty interesting to see… Two of the addresses are seemingly just apartment buildings, and 767 Lexington Avenue has some businesses in it. Granted, it’s a bit odd seeing a beauty shop or a nail salon or whatever sitting there, but… It’s nice to see that piece of history. But yeah… I didn’t see anything on the buildings referencing their historic past. It felt wrong. You’d think there’d at least be some street art of Lee Morgan nearby, or something… Even the building from the cover of Physical Graffiti has a tea shop in it called Physical Graffi-Tea… (That’s also in NYC. There’s a convenient crepes place nearby. Hell, while I’m talking about jazz stuff in NYC… It was also nice catching John Zorn at the Village Vanguard and McCoy Tyner at the Blue Note. New York’s pretty great… Maybe next time I’ll bring my copy of The Bridge to the Williamsburg Bridge. I’m obviously a tourist anyways… Might as well embrace it.)

    As for the Wynton Kelly record and the Julius Watkins record… They aren’t perfect, but they aren’t awful. The Wynton Kelly record is the rougher of the two… It was $75, and has some scuffs and scratches. No skips or sticks, of course, but it ticks a bit in the first song (I think it was the first song… I should listen to it again). I’m not sure what the normal background noise level is for pre-RVG 10″ records (if there normally is any), but it does have some noise, which is particularly unfortunate due to it being a piano, bass, and drums recording. The noise isn’t easily covered up by a saxophone. (Not criticizing the recording, just saying that saxophones can cover a lot of background noise.) The cover is better, but still has some splitting at the top, a few notes written on the back, and some unfortunate sticker staining. It’s not in awful shape, but it’s not great. The Julius Watkins record was $125, and is in better shape. It has scuffs, but not many scratches. It sounds better, with less background noise. Sadly, the cover faired worse, with a taped split all along the bottom and some tears on the back. It does, however, have a KJAZ stamp on the back… Apparently it used to live in Berkeley before heading back to New York, and then was returned to the Bay Area (I’m in Santa Rosa, and yeah, my collection survived the fires…). So… $200 isn’t as amazing a deal as it sounds. Still, though… Seeing how crazy eBay is right now, I’d probably get about $400 if I sold them, which I won’t. They’re still quite playable, even if the condition is a bit mediocre. The Jazz Record Center seems to only include excellent copies of records in their auctions, and I suspect these didn’t make the cut.

    I guess I should just confess that I’m a bit small-time in terms of collectors. I’m pretty new to this, and I’m only 21. I don’t mind a bit of noise, since I got my vinyl appreciation from playing with dad’s collection when I was younger (I think his college roommate used record stackers, if you get my drift), and my pockets aren’t deep enough to afford the top shelf stuff. I have to rely on lesser copies or record employee oversights… My other favourite scores involve a pretty serviceable first pressing of Palo Congo that I found in the dollar bin, and the day I gazed up at the rare records wall and saw fairly nice original copies of Lou Takes Off and ‘Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia sitting there with price tags of $60 and $100. That was a very good day indeed. But yeah, a lot of this stuff is a bit rich for my blood. Sorry for inadvertently jacking up prices by fighting over the lesser copies… I just really love the music, and there’s nothing quite like holding the very first pressing of one of these albums, putting the needle down, and hearing a piece of history just fill the room, perhaps with a bit of background noise here and there. It’s sublime.

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