More on the Great eBay Debate
Jazz Collector Newsletter, June 2002
We have some positive changes coming at Jazz Collector. We’re updating the Jazzcollector.com Web site and starting Monday we’ll be posting new items each weekday. Plus, we’ll be giving away free collectibles from the site periodically. Finally, we’re going to post more articles and commentaries from readers and increase activity on the site’s Forum. The hope is to create a hub for the Jazz Collector community, so please use the site and offer up any suggestions. The site upgrade won’t affect the newsletter, which will still come out once a month. We have more than 800 subscribers now and the roster keeps growing. Obviously, jazz vinyl is alive and well.
We return to The Great eBay Debate. Is it establishing a new market dynamic or, as reader Larry Cohn suggested last issue, is it throwing it into a temporary frenzy?
Here are excerpts from some of your responses. All of the letters will be posted on the Web site, one day at a time, in the coming weeks. We’ll also post a new commentary from Larry, so please keep looking.
“I think it’s hard to dismiss eBay as a market indicator of jazz LP prices. The ‘truest’ markets for anything are those that are most liquid. It would seem that, for better or worse, eBay is now the market by which the greatest number of jazz LPs trade hands on a daily basis. The biggest problem I find with eBay is the lowering of grading standards. When I walk into a dealer, for example, Fred Cohen’s Jazz Record Center in New York, and a record is graded a near mint, I know what it is and it never disappoints. More often than is reasonable, an NM grade afforded by an eBay seller is closer to VG+. “ – Brian Ross
“I would suggest that, from an economist’s perspective, the prices paid on eBay are, almost by definition, quite rational since a free, unconstrained market always pays a market price. Yes, prices may be well above the prices that some people who have completed their jazz collections have paid, but these people are very few in number and their prices are completely irrelevant to the new marketplace. As a relatively new record collector, I continue to be enthusiastic about the availability of rare jazz records on eBay. If you were able to buy them at some earlier time at a lower price, good for you. I bought Microsoft stock for a low price instead.” – R. Mueller
“To dismiss the collectors and others who do business on eBay and other auctions and online communities as less than serious or simply a flash in the pan is short-sighted. The way that we buy, sell, collect, has completely changed due to computers, email, electronic payment, etc. Classic dealers, private arrangements, long-established lines: Yes, I am sure that these exist. But there is a whole other significant arena of action taking place, moving these artifacts of culture into this new future, where ‘market value’ is really ‘market value at that moment.’” – Bonnie Kane, starrynightrecords
“An an eBay member since December 1997, I have found bidders engaged in ‘eBay psychosis’ – ego-driven bidding. A bidding war ensues and prices go through the rafters for no other reason than ego. I’ve been a victim of the disease and overpaid. With my seller hat on I love it.” – Tony Young
“I think Larry’s got some solid points. A counterpoint would be that, while those serious collectors have filled the gaps in their collections, that also implies that those discs are not on the market and are thus not available. So, the eBay price is still, well, the going rate.” – Kerry Bradley
“I happen to agree with Larry Cohn on the false market. However, there is also the false market that is an advantage to collectors like me – the kind of guy who wants a really good sounding analog pressing: In other words, the Japanese pressings. Wow, last year I won approximately 200 Japanese pressings on eBay. The average price, with postage, came to $14. The Jazz Record Center charges twice that and my favorite store here in Milwaukee is getting close to $50.” – Charles Ledvina
“Thank God I have gotten all the ‘heavy hitters’ before this eBay phenomenon! I have a love/hate relationship going on with eBay. You can find some great pieces. I’ll be glad when I can come to the day of not studying eBay at all and get into some serious listening.” – Tim Beeman, “Jazz Ruler” on eBay
Here, for now, is the last word:
“Hi. This is Howard Goldin. My thoughts on eBay is that it HAS COMPLETELY RUINED THIS HOBBY FOR ALL BUT MORONS!”
Speaking of eBay . . .
Just when you thought prices wouldn’t get any higher, they seem to have gone up to a new level. I’m not averse to paying top-dollar for a great record, and there was a time a few months ago when I was happily winning five to 10 auctions a week. Lately, I haven’t won a thing, bidding the same amounts I was bidding a few months ago.
Some examples of new highs in the past few weeks:
Dexter Gordon, Doin’ Allright, Blue Note 4077. Price: $405. This was in near mint condition but it was a NY USA pressing, where we’ve seen copies that have the West 63rd Street label. Still, with either label, we haven’t seen this record fetch this kind of price before.
Another one from the same seller that went for a higher than usual price: Bud Powell ’57, Norgran 1098 with the black label. Price: $361
Here’s one whose pricing defies explanation: Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin, Columbia 8048. Price: $209.49. Can someone please explain why this record would sell for more than $200? We’ll give a prize to whoever provides the best answer.
The seller bobbysmash had some nice items recently that went for extremely high prices. Here are three of them:
Cliff Jordan and Jon Gilmore, Blowing in From Chicago, Blue Note 1549. This was an original pressing in beautiful condition. Price: $2,550
Dexter Gordon, Dexter Blows Hot and Cool, Dooto 207. This was not in M- condition and still sold for $1,626
Sonny Clark, Sonny’s Crib, Blue Note 1576. Price: $911
Here’s one we were watching last issue: John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell, Blue Note 1573. This was in beautiful condition. Price: $897.55
Sonny Rollins, Worktime, Prestige 7020, in beautiful condition. Price: $721.13
Jazzrecordcenter in New York got a couple of plugs from our readers this issue. They were also up on eBay with some nice items, incuding: Herbie Nichols Trio, Blue Note 1519. Price: $381.99
Finally, one more Blue Note that went for a higher price that we’ve seen in the two years we’ve spent chronicling eBay: A Date With Jimmy Smith, Volume 1, Blue Note 1547. Price: $202.50
So, ready to pay some high prices? Here are some of the records and sellers we’re watching over the next few days. Please remember to check out Latest Prices and Price Guide. We’ll be updating the databases more frequently in the coming weeks.
This one might be gone by the time you read this. As of press time it was more than $400. Sonny Rollins, The Sound of Sonny, Riverside 241
Who wrote the Charlie Parker biography “Bird Lives” and what was his relationship to Bird?
Last Month’s Question: On John Coltrane Soultrane, Prestige 7142, there is a beautiful ballad called “Theme For Ernie.” Who was the Ernie that inspired the tune? Bonus: Who wrote it? Answer: “Theme For Ernie” was written in honor of alto saxophonist Ernie Henry, who died in December 1957. It was written by Freddie Lacy. Congratulations to Robert Oppie for being the first to send in the correct answer. Here’s a clip. Great, huh?
That’s all for now. See you on the Web. — Al