Ruminations On The First $11,191.63 Jazz Record

Mobley copyI can’t quite leave that $11,191.63 Hank Mobley Blue Note quite yet. It’s still pretty mind boggling. I spent some time looking at the seller’s site and reading their blog. They do a very good job of presenting information and marketing themselves as more than just dealers but as preservationists and aficionados. They also had a blog entry explaining the provenance of the NY 23 and why collectors shouldn’t consider one label as more original than the other. Of course, collectors are not necessarily a fully sane bunch, and I include myself in that category, so no offense intended. So, kudos to the sellers for doing a great packaging job, including the pictures, descriptions and overall presentation I then looked at the bidding on the record and the big surprise was that the two bidders who pushed the record into the stratosphere

had so little feedback. That would give me cause for concern if I were the seller, and also as sort of the archivist for jazz vinyl prices, which is definitely one of the things we do here at Jazz Collector. So I will probably follow up at some point with the seller to see if the transaction actually goes through before I place this in the official Jazz Collector Price Guide. Also noteworthy is that the winning bidder used some kind of automatic bidding software, so who knows how much higher his top bid actually was.

There was a time, much earlier in the eBay era, when you could actually look at the emails of bidders. You weren’t supposed to contact them directly, but I remember building my first mailing list for Jazz Collector, back when it was an email newsletter, through access to email addresses on eBay. It would be interesting to reach out to the buyer to find out more about him. The fact that he only has feedback for 16 items makes me doubt his legitimacy. And the second high bidder only has six feedbacks, so he would be even more suspect. The third high bidder was definitely legitimate, with 1,268 feedbacks. His top bid was also more legitimate, at $3,333 pounds, which is about $5,094 U.S. dollars, which is about what you’d expect for this LP. Actually, this would even be on the high side, given the lack of the NY 23 on the label.

I’m hoping the seller of this record is familiar with Jazz Collector and reaches out with an update on the actual sale. Otherwise, I’ll reach out to them. My bet is that the record ends up in the hands of Bidder #3 at $5,094. What do you all think?

12 comments

  • at the end of the day, the value of a record is whatever a person wants to pay for it…regardless of how ridiculous it might be.

  • Al: please keep us posted if you ever discover what is going on behind the scene. Your assumption of bidder 3. walkng away in the end with the album, is a logical one. But it will take weeks of hassles between buyers and seller and EBay before things become clear.

  • AL{ i also remember back in the day when you could email and see all bidders, but ebay eliminated those features because people where emailing the 2nd, 3rd runner ups with outside offers. thus taking away money from ebay.
    imagine if you are bidding on a record and did not win it,someone else with the same record in same condition could email you and say they will sell you that record for same price. thus elimination ebay, of course you would have to trust the seller, this is one of the reasons why paypal’s safe guarantee only applys to ebay transactions

    the new system eliminates that, but at the same time makes it so so easy for shill bidding. ebay does not care, they only care about making their money, so even if shill bidding is going on, it;s more money for ebay and the seller, of course the buyer is the loser in the long run

    this seller has some amazing records in great condition, and feedback has been left on some of his auctions, i want to see the feedback on this record from the winning bid. as you have stated the low feedback puts a red flag up from first two bidders, the 3rd bid would be more for what i would assume should be the winning bid for this record. the three sounds high price, please, i bought mint copies of that same record for less than a 100 bucks

  • Greetings and salutations from Vinyl House UK,
    please feel free to ask anything other than our bidders identities.
    We at VH will not infringe on any persons right to privacy and or anonimity.
    Formalities done, the winning bidder was not known to us prior to the auction neither was the underbidder.The third is our biggest customer by far yet has only left 3 feedbacks total.This seems the norm with the bigger buyers as they tend to let their REPEAT bidding and subsequent purchase speak to their trust in our efforts.
    We have been archiving for 30 years ,as such we have amassed an exorbitant amount of music on all formats.
    We use the blog to communicate a message that is not really suited to E-Bay.Whinging on about one thing or another is not our style,we prefer to do our best by sourcing and delivering great quality items.All members of this and other music loving forums have an open invitation to either our studio or storage facility.
    Our mantra is”focus on the detail and help where possible”.As for shilling our auctions;never.We are an open book for any individual that may chose to enquire further.We have stated many times that we spend way more than we sell.
    Once the archive is complete it will hopefully serve future generations of musical enthusiasts
    in a non competitive environment,free of elitism or financial constraint.This was our vision from the start and it has never changed.
    Peace and love,
    VH.

  • Gregory The Fish

    hey there vinyl house: curious about your tiny van gelder, actually. what was the deal with that? just for fun? did the winning bidder get to keep that too?

  • Hi, the sculpture to which you refer was not part of the auction.
    We comissioned Willard to make this for us as we appreciate his work.It took him over a year to complete and the photos on the site do it little if any justice.One must view it through a microscope to fully comprehend the peerless nature of the piece.The glasses RVG wears are made of the web of a money spider,painted and finally placed on his head.
    KR,VH

  • Gregory The Fish

    fascinating. well, please do let us know how the auction, payment, and feedback goes. all the best!

  • Saw more from Vinyl House on another site:

    I am one of the Vinyl House collective,nicknamed the “General”because of my order barking demeanour.
    In response to the comment “endless supply”,we have a stock of 100,000 and an archive of 15,000.
    As for the “Mobley” auction;The winner is from the UK and the Under bidder France. The winner placed a bid that would ensure a market close-out,we then took around 50 choice condition pieces in exchange.If he grants us permission we will do a story on our blog.
    We invite any member of this forum to visit either our studio or storage facility by prior appointment.
    Should anyone wish to see or hear some of the greatest recordings of all time,please get in touch.We are not elitists,snobs,sexists or racists.We are music worshippers that have joined together to do our best.We do not make it up and we do not shill.Read our most recent blog post for an individual who decided that he would research his price limitations AFTER bidding,go figure?
    Some bidders over bid to ensure acquisition then attempt to pay less,30%less.
    We never comply as that would be an insult to the rest of the genuine bidders in that particular auction,as they are not privvy to any retrospective price corrections.Should this pattern become the norm we will be forced to sell “Buy-it-now”only,this would be a shame as we prefer the thrill of the chase.
    KIndest regards,peace and love VH.

  • The two highest bidders having low feedback numbers is most certainly a giant red flag, and I can almost guarantee to you that they are fakes. eBay, if you don’t already know, suffers from this quite a bit. That record is certainly worth alot, but not 11 grand. I am going to assume the sellers were not in on the shilling bids, but that happens often as well.

  • Just read the British seller’s blog entry supposedly clearing up confusion regarding the appearance of the NY 23 label on Mobley BLP 1568. First quoting them:

    “The confusion centres on the label, with many unaware of the history surrounding the ‘New York 23’ variant. The ‘NY 23’ only made its way onto the spindle as the result of a label shortage. A kind of ‘swap & chop’ occurred towards the end of the one and only original pressing of this album, hence the low numbers (estimated in the region of 200-300) to carry it. What some call the first press is theoretically mislabeled.”

    This is unfortunately pure b.s. It is not only misleading but utterly illogical. One of the first things I discovered in studying Blue Note disk history is to make distinctions between “blank” (only the background printed, not the specifics for an individual title) labels and printed labels (all the particulars printed -title, cat no, songs, personnel, etc) as I was trying to sort out the Break Points, in this case for 1568, 1575 and 1577 or later for 4072, 4077 and 4080 -cases where split labels occur on early (and earliest) pressings.

    Focusing just on 1568, the notion that a “label shortage” required pressing old labels (NY 23) into service is utter nonsense. The labels to be used for pressing records were printed on the stock of blank labels, prior to any disk manufacture for 1568. It would have been at this point that a MIXTURE of old (NEW YORK 23) and new (streamlined 63rd NYC) blank labels were printed up with the actual Mobley 1568 data: Title, tunes personnel. Two sets for the different data (songs) appropriate for Side A and Side B.

    (Some records would have a mixture of labels for both sides, like 1575 and 1577.)

    For 1568 one Side was apparently (I can never know for sure – I have no access now to ALL disks pressed, and many were destroyed through use so it is impossible to see them all anyway) prepared with ONLY the new 63rd NYC labels taken from stock and printed up with the 1568 specific info, then ready for use in pressing. So NO both sides NY23 version (presumably) was ever pressed. The idea of running out during pressing (or pressings) of labels is absurd. The final printing of labels came first, and unused printed labels were saved in stock for later pressings, a provable fact since even a novice has seen the years-later cases of Lexington on one side and Liberty label on the other side for say the Fats Navarro BN titles – individual labels that were originally printed (as BLANKS) perhaps 10 years apart. Those Lexington Navarro labels married with A DIVISION OF LIBERTY Navarro labels were not blank and printed up with Navarro 1532 info many years after – no, the Lexington Navarro labels had been printed in final version say in 1956 and laid around in stock for 10 years until used for a Liberty pressing at a Liberty pressing plant in 1966 or 1967, before MONO was abandoned.

    The point is that the NY 23 labels with 1568 info on them were printed and finalized at the same time as the 1568 on 63rd NYC labels. A stack of blank labels became printed Side A 1568 and similarly a stack of labels became printed Side B 1568, and one of these stacks contained a mixture of old and new backgrounds. The distinction between old and new design was irrelevant to the Blue Note owners, the folks working in the pressing plant, Rudy Van Gelder, and any quality control staffers. Mistakes could be made (I own Cool Struttin’ original with both sides bearing the Side B label -just an error at the plant), but mixed addresses was not considered wrong or even out of the ordinary.

    So it would be the luck of the draw which label a record would receive in a first pressing as sketched out by me above. If 1568 had been a successful release and received several pressings, it would be like Blue Trane 1577 or other titles with many, many variations in existence. It was not, and most likely had only one pressing run, making all the disks originals -they are all DG, and there is no Liberty version, and 1568 was dropped from the BN catalog before other changes like NEW YORK USA occurred. So “label shortage” is a joke – rather the mismatch was caused by frugality (cheapness) in the first place, using up old, leftover BLANK labels with the NY23 already printed on them, rather than starting off clean in 1957 and 1958 with only NEW blank labels in stock.

    Post script: I have physical evidence in my collection of all the theorizing written above, tangible disks with real labels on them. Not only endless variations on 1531 and 1532 Navarro, but for 1568: a “FOR PROMOTION ONLY” stamped on both A and B labels copy of Mobley that yes, has 63rd NYC labels on both sides, proving that this variation -like the one the Brits were auctioning – existed for a first pressing, since those stamped on labels were pre-release sent out to magazines (like downbeat) and reviewers and deejays to promote the record. A flop like 1568 could not have had a later promotion cycle requiring such stamping, since it was a flop – no point in promoting it again. I also have conventional first pressings of 1568, with the NY23 label on one side only -not stamped as promotional but sold in a store.

  • Great post, thanks!

  • Dear sirs, I do not profess that one variant supercedes another,where labels and miss-prints are concerned I merely suggest that the academic pedantry involved is the preserve of collectors only.
    I do however posit the fact that 1568 has only one ,first press run.
    As a music devotee my interest revolves around interprtation of score,musical performance and audio presentation.
    I have no idea why two individuals would bid such an amount,but until the transaction is complete it is not real.To the farcical extent that I have paid over $1000 in fees for an as yet,un paid for item.
    Like others ,I own both label versions of 1568 and to me they sound identical.
    The undisputed ,flop,has found a place in jazz history that will always touch the souls of those that are impervious to reviewer tastes and social mores.

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