Kind of Blues & The Abstract Truth

Miles Davis Jazz Vinyyl copyLet’s catch up on some rare jazz vinyl we’ve been watching on eBay, starting with Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. This was an interesting one because it looked to be an original first pressing and the record had never been played. When this album was first issued, Columbia used a plastic inner sleeve that had a seal. I know that from a couple of albums I purchased in the Baltimore collection. On this particular copy of Kind of Blue, the seal had never been broken. The cover also looked to be quite pristine and was graded in M- condition. The record wound up selling for $510, a fairly hefty price for the highest selling jazz record of all time. The question is, what will the buyer do with the record? Will he/she open it and play it, thus potentially lowering the value? Or will he/she put it on the shelf for posterity and listen to a different copy of the record, which is so readily available?

Here’s another classic album that fetched a nice price: Oliver Nelson, the Blues and the Abstract Truth, Impulse 5. This was an original mono pressing with the first cover, orange label and Van Gelder in the dead wax. This one was listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover and it wound up selling for $265. Pretty nice when you can have both Bill Evans and Paul Chambers in your rhythm section, as both of these albums can boast.

I took a shot at this record, but my bid wasn’t high enough: Elmo Hope Meditations, Prestige 7010. This was an original New York pressing that looked to be in VG+ condition for the record and the cover from a very reputable seller who, in my opinion, would be more prone to under grading condition rather than over grading. When I looked at this record, the bidding was well less than $200 and I put in a snipe in the $250 range. It wound up selling for $393, which seems like a fair price. I would suggest it may be below market value, but, because it sold on eBay, it sold at precisely its market value. eBay, like it or not, makes the market these days.

As mentioned on an earlier post, I had my eye on this one as well, but didn’t wind up bidding because I suspected it would sell for a price beyond my comfort zone: Lou Donaldson, Quartet, Quintet, Sextet, Blue Note 1537. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing in M- condition for the vinyl and probably VG for the cover. When I looked at it the top bid was in the $250 range. It wound up selling for $622 and, yes, that is out of my comfort zone. Not saying the record isn’t worth that much or more. Just saying that I still like to hunt for bargains and I’m okay not owning every single record I desire. The thrill of the hunt is still quite alive for me, thank goodness. It’s one of the things that makes collecting so much fun. Just paying top dollar to own every record, even if I could afford it, would change the nature of the game for me. But I don’t at all begrudge anyone who takes that approach. I’m fortunate to have been at this for 45 years or so, and I remember being able to walk into a used record store on a lucky day and buying original Blue Notes for $5 a pop.

20 comments

  • Gregory The Fish

    wow! blues and the abstract truth is a record i have and could list identically to that seller. i need to re-adjust my value listed on my insurance material. cool!

    $5 original blue notes? maybe i should go back into physics and work on that time machine. all it ever seemed to do was move me forward in time while i worked on it….

  • Terryfromflorida

    Almost put a bid on that Blues and the Abstract Truth lp. Thought I would upgrade my current copy. I refrained at the end though, due to a lack of photos on the listing.
    One picture on a listing just doesn’t cut it when you are spending that kind of money on an lp. As they say a picture(s) is worth a thousand words…

  • …Who doesn’t love a pristine copy of Kind of Blue ! I’m sure it is worth every cent just to hear this one played on ones turntable for the very first time. My only issue with this LP is the matrix number the seller provided. Unfortunately, it’s tailing is 1J/1J, which is still the first tape (or mix) used in the mastering, but the 9th lacquer cutting… (Thanks London Jazz Collector for the reference)

    The cover is a slightly older press as well I think. (Note the #6 under the Miles photo on the back… The earliest copies of this LP I have typically have a “2” under the photo that looks more like an old “Z”) I have never found a copy of this one with a #1 under the Miles photo, although they do exist on other Columbia first pressings like the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out. To this day, it is still a mystery why this little number is printed on the bottom right of the back cover slicks of Columbia records from this era, or why the change. My best guess is that it may be an indicator of which plant printed it or possibly when it was printed… Anyone out there in the JC have any info on this ?

  • Hi Don-Lucky,
    I wouldn’t be put off with the 1J/1J matrix, the white label promo has 1G/1D matrices and I’m pretty sure no copies exist with 1A or 1B sides.

    The numbers on the back of Columbia record jackets correspond to who printed the jacket, not when they were made.

  • Some info I’ve read regarding Columbia jacket numbers:
    ‘2’ is Imperial Paper Box Corp., Inc. of Brooklyn, NY
    ‘3’ is Modern Album, Long Island, NY
    ‘4’ is Imperial Packing Co., Inc., Indianapolis, IN
    ‘5’ is Modern Album, Terre Haute, IN

  • I ended up as the high bidder on the Lou Donaldson and I also wish that I had a time machine to scoop up $5 Blue Notes! If the vinyl is truly NM- then I will be very pleased with this addition and I look forward to listening to it. I am less concerned about the condition of the jacket so long as it is presentable because I collect to listen, not to look. I may have overpaid a bit, but this has been a hole in my collection (both for Donaldson and for Lexingtons). Unfortunately, it has been many years since I have found a NM- Lexington flat edge pressing anywhere except Ebay. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I can’t blame sellers who sell there to reach the broadest possible audience.

  • So, JC group, how many of you would cut open the seal to play that Kind of Blue in all of its as-pressed unplayed glory?

  • I totally would.

  • It would be opened immediately. Along with a bottle of Opus One.

  • Thanks for the info on that Aaron ! …So much for my years questing to find the lowest numbers on the backs of those Columbia covers 🙂 I will have to check my promo copy when I get home tonight as well and compare based on your matrix notes.

    As for Jeff’s question… I’m with Clifford on this, I would definitely play it. If only to wallow in all that vintage ’59 off-gassing that has been contained within the plastic seal for the last five and a half decades ! At the end of the day, who are we saving these LP’s for anyway ? The kids don’t dig Jazz (yet), and the wife just wants to sell the LP’s now that she knows what they are really worth… So I say, live for the day ! Enjoy them while we have still have them. For someday, mark my words, the kids may start stealing them one by one for beer money, or the wives will just cut to the chase and pull the proverbial plug on us first chance they get, and then clean house on ebay or better yet, sell our treasured collections to Al !!! I can just see the JC posting now on the Don-Lucky collection……Parts 1-3 ! (heh heh… Sorry Al, slow day at the office, plus I’m still coping with the recent loss of those three treasured LP’s I sold. Although the new MC275 amp I ordered with the proceeds will ease the pain I hope.)

  • …Damn straight Smitty ! (Honestly, they guy who bought that copy of Kind of Blue could seriously charge admission to the first-listen party. (I have a bottle of single-malt from ’75 I’ve been saving for just such an occasion myself.)

  • Nice choice on the MC275! As difficult as it was to part with those three consider how their sacrifice made your entire remaining music collection sound better!

  • I think we would all play, but someone who pays that kind of coin for a sealed pressing is probably doing so as an investment, no? I play everything – why the hell else have the records?!? What’s the point of having a beautiful copy of a rare record if you don’t enjoy it? Do you buy rare scotch to put it on the shelf and never drink it? No way.

  • Thanks Aaron…The irony in selling records to upgrade stereo components is that I now have less records to enjoy on the new equipment, which I am buying to increase enjoyment of the records which I no longer have !!! It’s a vicious cycle… but like a well aged scotch, it is worth every dram. Cheers !!!

  • Don, are you sure you don’t mean stampers instead of lacquers? From each original master lacquer disk, a negative metal master is made, from which several positive mothers are made, from which then numerous stampers are made from each mother. For an album like Kind of Blue, I can only guess that the first nine stampers all would have come from the first mother disk, which in turn would have all come from the original master lacquer disk.
    .
    I’ve also learned that in theory there should be no audible difference between the first and last stampers made from the same mother, since most stampers in those days would have broke before they wore out, and either way they’d usually get pulled before they’d create audible defects in a pressing. My personal opinion is that vinyl is a finicky medium, and though it seems that a lot of different factors contribute to two copies of the same pressing of an album sounding different (perhaps mostly each record’s playback history), stampers do not seem in theory to be one of the major differentiators.

  • I’ll bet that Kind of Blue sounds breathtaking…I’d say that record’s definitely worth 500 bucks. And I agree, Stereo Jack’s is legit.

  • Thanks for pointing us to the LJC site, Don. I just read through Andy’s great discourse on the Columbia matrix numbers, though it still doesn’t seem crystal clear to me if each different matrix number configuration represents a different lacquer or a different stamper. I will say however, that if each stamper only pressed about 2,000 copies, the numbers are more likely to represent lacquers because it seems like Columbia sold a lot of records back in those days. In either case though, if the Columbia mastering engineers cranked out a bunch of lacquers all at once, I imagine one would be hard pressed to hear a difference between them all, especially if they were created at the same time (like for the initial release).

  • …Not 100% on this one either Rich, but I suspect you are correct that the difference between these early stamper / lacquer configurations is probably quite negligible. I remember a time when I was just happy to have a Columbia 6-eye DG copy ! 😉

  • On my 6-eye DGs there is range of stamper numbers – including WLPs with “high” pressing numbers – and they all sound the same to me. I think the only thing that identification of “1A / 1A” is good for is increasing eBay sales prices.

  • don-lucky: I laughed out loud at your comments … funny and relevant. Yes, I would crack open that seal also, enjoying the waft of vinyl vapor and the crispness of the sleeve. A beautiful thing …

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