More Questions About “Original” Blue Notes

I went back to look at some of those listings from Paperstax that have generated all of this discussion and controversy. I started with Jackie McLean, Swing, Swang, Swingin’, Blue Note 4024. When you look at the listing, it seems to have it all: West 63rd Street address, deep groove, but . . . when you look closely, Van Gelder in the dead wax as opposed to RVG, no mention of the ear. In bidding, I would assume — and did — that this was an original and that the seller inadvertently did not mention the ear and used Van Gelder descriptively as opposed to using the RVG. The reason is because I don’t quite understand how this can be a Liberty pressing and still have the deep grooves. The same thing with:

Lou Donaldson, Sonny Side Up, Blue Note 4036. This one has all of the same attributes, including the deep groove. It also has the original cover, which was different than the cover issued during the Liberty era. If it was pressed during the Liberty era, how would it have a deep groove, even on one side? Is it possible these records were pressed originally, held back for some reason and released later? If so, however, wouldn’t they have the ear? It’s a mystery to me. In any case, the buyers either were unaware of these glitches — as I was, assuming they were inadvertent — or simply didn’t care. The McLean record sold for $1,025 and the Donaldson record sold for $660. I know if I had paid those prices for those records and they came in the mail and there was no ear on the deadwax and there was a Van Gelder stamp instead of an RVG signature I would be quite upset. You too? I’m hoping there will be answers to some of these questions: Perhaps Don-Lucky will reach out once again to the Blue Note expert Larry Cohn.


  • Perhaps Liberty used original Blue Note stampers. That would account for the deep groove, but not the Van Gelder or ‘ear’ questions.

  • Sorry Al for rehashing my question that I posted in the comments in an earlier article, but since this article is about original Blue Notes, I thought it would be more appropriate to post it here. I only recently discovered the site and I love it, even though I collect Jazz CDs (especially Blue Note) and not LPs since I can’t afford them.

    Hoping that some of the professional regulars here can help me a bit: I do own two Blue Notes on vinyl. Blue Train by John Coltrane and Volume 2 by Miles Davis and I bought them about two months ago on a flee market. I do not want to sell them since they’re precious to me. But I’m only human and of course I’m curious what the professional ‘regulars’ of this site think about them. I can read the price guide to the hilt, but I can’t really grade a cover or a record. I have read about the ‘ear’ in the dead wax, the addresses, etc etc.

    Still I would like to ask you all to look at the photos that I made and maybe give me a honest opinion about these two cherished gems that I have. You can click HERE to see the photos.

    I paid 40 Euro (about $50,=) for Miles and 5 Euro (about $6,=) for John. The records play with a little bit of surface noise, but that’s about it. They are clean. The dust speckles in the photos are basically the only few on the records. Was this a good purchase and can I call myself the proud owner of two real Blue Note originals? Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Mattyman, The Netherlands.

  • I don’t thank that those two Blue Notes Were deep groove. So they are not original press in that case; Anyway, I’ve looked closely at the whole set of record that were auctionned, and in my opinion, there are probably some originals from the 62-65 period mixed with some later liberty pressings. Hard to tell in fact, it is necessary to have a close of each record to know exactly. Sealing of course is NEVER a proof of orginality, as BN records were sold unsealed, as it has been told a hundred times beford !

    This lot comes from a bunch or resealed record sold at bargain prices.

  • Mattyman, It looks like your Miles Davis Vol. 2 is original, it has DG both sides and the lex. address. The Blue Train might be a 2nd pressing since it has the NY instead of W. 63rd. Regardless, those are two great albums, and I believe you got a pretty good price if you combine the two and split the cost in half. Oh, and don’t be discouraged by BN LP prices. I never thought I’d be able to start a collection as a 22 year old starving artist. Patience and Discretion, and now i have 75 BN’S and counting. Dont get suckered by ebay, Go out and get your hands dirty, inhale some sweet 50’s & 60’s dust chock a block with enough dead epithelials and dust mites to make you sneeze for days . Dig to the bottom of the donation box that just came in at your local thrift store. Make a memory of your find. I payed 3$ for an original LEX. 6 pieces of Silver.

  • Well, Max, thank you for the great comment. I appreciate it and it’s certainly encouraging to read about your experiences with “diggin’ in the crates”. Of course I do that too, but so far the two albums that I found (again, check out the photos) are the only ones that I was able to add to my collection. And I’m glad to know that -at least the Miles Davis- is a true, original first pressing. It really lights up my day to know that I have such a precious gem in my cabinet.

    Of course I will keep digging. The fun part for me to focus on collecting the CDs, is that there are Japanese re-releases, RVG Remasters, the Connoisseur editions, etc, etc. A lot of those CDs, too, are out of print and it’s just fun to chase them, find them, buy them for a decent price and -most importantly- play them!

    Thankfully I have read enough here on to understand the value of the addresses, the missing -or present- “r”, the “ear”, etc, etc. Again: taking part in an auction on eBay is and will be unaffordable for me. But you’re right about one thing: “diggin’ in the crates” will be the one option for me, just like on that flee market: to lay hands on at least a few original pressings.

    And the reason why I love the two Blue Note vinyls that I have? First of all, I love Jazz from all known labels, but it’s especially the sound of the Blue Note recordings that makes me collect the music. But the absolute added bonus to those old, old vinyl originals, is -call me a weirdo- the smell of them. I honestly sniff them every once and a while and immediately think of the house of my grandparents, with the fifties interior, the fifties furniture, etc, etc. I was only a child in the mid-seventies, but the smell of these old gems brings back those memories in an instant. I guess that even the oldest professionals here on know what I’m talking about! 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again Max, for checking out my photos and your comments on them!

    Mattyman, The Netherlands

  • Mattyman,
    What’s weird about your Blue Train pressing in that it has mono labels (“microgroove” text on top) but was made from stereo stampers (RVG STEREO and BNST in the deadwax). First one I’ve seen like that.

    I agree with Michel, I don’t see a deep groove on either of the records from the auctions. That would definitely be a reason to be upset with the seller but since he states Van Gelder stamp and doesn’t mention the “ear” I wouldn’t expect RVG and the “ear” to be there.

  • He also had Div Liberty pressings up for auction that were listed as deep groove. From the photos its hard to discern if some are deep groove or just have a deep indentation.

  • Hello Aaron, thank you for your comment. The Blue Train is indeed in stereo, ’cause that’s also what you hear when you play it. I was not aware, however, that the labels are in fact mono labels. Max already said that The Blue Train might be a 2nd pressing since it has the NY instead of W. 63rd., but that would mean that they maybe used old mono labels for this 2nd pressing in stereo. Anyway, it adds so much more to the excitement of having these two Blue Note vinyls. And how about that Miles Davis? Max thought it’s an original considering the details on the photos.
    Thanks so much for the comments so far, folks. I really appreciate it. Mattyman, The Netherlands.

  • indeed, i do not see a deep groove…mayby a left over label on a post-deepgroove pressing.hence the ‘vangelder’ instead ‘RVG” …if you look at popsike you’ll see orig.deepgroove is pretty deep and wide..

    but never an original without the ‘ear’, and if a seller knows the importance of a adres he would def. know the importance of mentioning the “ear”?
    I have some of the 4100 series that are looking first pressing in everything accept there is no ear, so i’ll guess they are pressed pre 1965?

  • The judgement whether one record is “Original” or not seems to get more and more complicated with all the details to consider. My image grows that BN was a small company that did not care that much what labels and even stampers they used, e.g. 63rd DG on one side and NY no DG on the other. The ear was assumingly hand etched in the stamper – I would not bet if they did it really “quality” controlled on all stampers…
    But for me these “non- perfections” make the records even nicer. They tell stories from the past which is a nice comparison to our totally quality-assured and stereotyped market. GREAT!!

  • Oh, and just to make sure that I am not diluting the article’s comments with the ones concerning my own photos from the earlier comment that I left above, these are mine! 😉
    Mattyman, The Netherlands

  • Hey guys,
    I contacted “paperstax”, the seller for the two LP’s above, asking if it said “RVG” or “VAN GELDER” on the LP’s, and if there was a cursive “p” (aka an “ear”) on them, and if the 63rd label was on both sides with a deep groove. Here is the response I got:

    “rvg, no ear. 63rd st. label on both sides.
    thank you.”

    Personally, I can see the deep groove in the enlarged photos from the postings on my computer at work. They have them on one side at very least. The plastic wrap on them was not done by Blue Note, but many shops / dealers can easily do this at their end during the re-sale process. Case in point, back in the old days, HMV used to let you buy a cd, listen to it at home and if you didn’t like it you could always return it ! Great for doing the ol’ “burn and return” but, not good for business, or copyright laws for that matter. Nevertheless, they just re-sealed them behind the counter and put them back on the shelf… On the positive side, the vacuum seal process keeps the LP covers in great shape for the rest of us ! With any luck you might even get a second or third pressing, but it’s always a gamble and a potential red-flag. When I first started collecting, my rookie mistake was impulsively buying a “still sealed” copy of John Coltrane’s Blue Train… I cracked the seal when it arrived like a kid on Christmas morning only to discover that it was in fact a mint condition New York pressing… Live and learn right ! It all comes down to the research… Especially when you might be dropping a paycheck or two on some of these treasures !

  • First comment, because I am really bothered with these pics. I think, both records do feature a deep groove. On pictures with this quality and without a deep groove, you wouldn’t even see the normal circle.
    Concerning the question of RVG and/or VAN GELDER: Is it true,that earliere pressings only have RVG inscribed?

  • Mattyman,
    Those are both GREAT albums to have and the Miles, if it has a flat edge, is as original as it gets and is indeed a first pressing.

    I examined those pictures closer and there is definitely no deep groove but the standard ridge on post ’62 albums. I don’t mean to be condescending but see my labelography page and the difference is quite noticeable.

  • OK, Aaron, well once again thanks for all the important details. Who knows my continued “diggin’ in the crates” will harvest a few more originals. And then I’ll share the photos here again.
    And if others would like to add a thing or two to my photos, then simply scroll up through the comments a bit; the letters in bold contain a link to the pictures 😉
    Mattyman, The Netherlands

  • Aaron, take a closer look at the photos posted by Paperstax… If you use the enlarge feature, and zoom in you will notice a double shadow line indent circling the label (aka a deep groove) in both photo’s. It’s pretty obvious, but I will contact our friend Paperstax again just to satisfy your curiousity and put this one to rest.

  • hey u guys, i saw a RVG stamp ive ***NEVER*** seen before…it was a smaller, more tiny typeface- the record was on prestige, it was on the world music series, it was a sitar/indian record

  • Indeed Blue Note is a complicated label for the original hunters.Sometimes complications are created by sellers whose descriptions are incomplete,if not “creative”.
    Bud Powell 1571 by Oldsberg:flat edge.
    Flat edge ? We all confirmed last flat edge 1557.Asked a question:”Dear oldsberg,

    hi,sure it has flat edge ?
    last known flat edge is 1557

    – dottorjazz”
    Answer:”Dear dottorjazz,

    check out Popsike

    – oldsberg”
    Any comment ?

  • Excellent, guaranteed original, 1950s Jazz LP by BUD POWELL entitled “The Amazing Bud Powell – Volume 3” on Blue Note Records (#1571, Microgroove). Original “47 West 63rd. NYC” address at labels. Has deep groove at both sides, ear and RVG. Record number #1571 and flat edge. Condition: Cover = VG- (wear, seam splits at the top right and lower right hand corners), Record = solid VG (light paper scuffs – plays through fine though!).

  • chewy: not shure what you mean but there are several rvg’s
    RVG hand-etched, RVG machine stamp ,RVG STEREO machine stamp, VAN GELDER STEREO machine, VAN GELDER really small machine…

  • This excerpt from a Michael Cuscuna interview seems apropos to this discussion.
    Collectors Weekly: Can you give us an example of a super-collector or lunatic?

    Cuscuna: My friend Larry Cohn is one of them. Larry’s got maybe 27 or 28 copies of “Blue Train,” all different—different pressings, different countries. He says, “There was a run of ‘Blue Trains’ where side A has the Lexington Avenue address on the label and side B has West 63rd Street.”

    I said, “Larry, all that means is they ran out of one label and not the other and then the plant reprinted the labels, and when they got an order for more ‘Blue Trains,’ they grabbed a box of labels. There was no thought involved in this. It’s just all physical stuff.” And he said, “Yes, I know, but I find it fascinating.” I said, “Okay.” He’s deep into that. In fact, he and Fred Cohen of the Jazz Record Center are about to put out a Blue Note collectors’ guide that includes a lot of that stuff.
    The whole interview is excellent, with a few new tidbits. It can be found at

  • Chewy,
    I’ve seen that small stamped RVG on classical records he mastered for the Vox label.

  • i think a lot of people visiting this site have made lists with all the label-specifics etc… so have i, but it keeps on growing with exeptions… is there a way we can all combine eachothers notes on labelography,rvg’s,first pressings, exeptions et etc…

    ‘the jazz-collector’s guide to buying Blue Note records” 🙂

  • i know…it allready exists a little bit…nl. the wonderfull site of Mr. Al Perlman!!!!!!

  • I”love it !
    but i’m shure it will be wellcome by buyers and hated by many,not all sellers.
    The old question:original vs first pressing…
    Anyway I’m happy and ready to share my info with all of you.
    Ah,I’m on the buyin’ side.

  • Things are getting stranger…and the documentation (as suggested by maarten kool) will be very complicated…
    Yesterday I received 2 BN LPs which I purchased a week ago. The amazing Bud Powell Vol 1&2. The seller decribed them nicely so I was aware that both lps have different labels on each side…but as the condition was very nice (Everything EX, except cover of Vol 2 which is VG) and the price was nice as well(togehther approx 55 USD) I was fine with this.
    Vol 1:
    Side 1: 47 West 63RD, DG, no “R”, Side 2: NY, DG, with “R”
    This means BN used a label from 1959 on Side 1 and a label from earliest 1962 on side 2..maybe someone found a leftover at least 3 year old label in his desk???
    Vol 2:
    Side 1: Lex., DG, no “R”
    Side 2: 47 West 63RD, DG, no “R”.
    I love them!

  • Spooky gw, I think there may be a baseball card collector series of The Amazing Bud Powell (BN 1503)

    I too bought the Vol 1 album last week, from a vinyl store in London.

    Side 1: label BLUE NOTE RECORDS INC NEW YORK USA, DG, RVG signature, Ear, BLUE NOTE (R)

    Side 2: label BLUE NOTE RECORDS no “inc” 767 LEXINGTON AVE NYC, DG, RVG signature, Ear, BLUE NOTE no (R),

    This is all too much. This record is a mongrel and it has altogether too large a number of siblings

    What gives?

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