Twelve Tips To Collecting Blue Note
One of our Jazz Collector readers found a blog post somewhere on the Internet with some advice about collecting Blue Notes. It was written by Allan Songer. We don’t know Allan personally, but we’ve dealt with him many times on eBay as both a buyer and a seller. We’ve found him to be quite reputable and a very nice guy. In any case, this is interesting information and we are taking the liberty (slight pun intended) of cleaning it up and reproducing it here for our Jazz Collector community, but we happily give Allan full credit. Allan, if you’re out there and see this, please feel free to comment:
Twelve Tips To Collecting Blue Note
1. First: You can’t tell the vintage of the pressing by the label alone or even if it has deep grooves.
1a. First: ALL “original” (not FIRST, but original pre-Liberty) pressings have the little “ear” mark in the dead wax. It looks like a cursive “P” because that is what it is! It’s “P” for Plastylite, the pressing plant that pressed ALL original Blue Notes.
2. The deep groove is present on first pressings of every Blue Note LP from the beginning through Blue Note 4058.
3. Starting with Blue Note 4059, Plastylite BOUGHT NEW EQUIPMENT that did NOT press in the deep grooves! 4059 (Kenny Drew, “Undercurrent”) is an anomaly because EVERY KNOWN COPY has the deep groove on one side only–that means Plastylite used the newer equipment for one side only! This is also a VERY rare title that most likely went through only ONE pressing!
4. Starting with 4060 ALL “first” pressings have NO deep groove! If you find a copy of any number AFTER 4059 that has a deep groove in one or both sides, it’s a SECOND pressing–the new equipment was ALWAYS used for the first run! This has NO EFFECT on value however!
5. If you find a title EARLIER than 4059 with only one or NO deep groove, but still has the “ear,” this is a later pressing!
6. The “Lexington” labels were used up through BN 1543, Kenny Burrell vol. 2–even LATE pressings of many of these titles still used the left over Lexington labels–you have to look for the deep-grooves AND the edge of the record itself! ALL OF THE LEXINGTON TITLES HAVE FLAT EDGES IF THEY ARE TRULY FIRST PRESSINGS!
7. Starting with Blue Note 1544 Blue Note introduced the “47 W. 63rd New York 23” label which was used on MOST titles from 1544 through 1577–some titles have this on ONE side only (like 1568 and 1577). Because Blue Note DID NOT release their titles in the order they were cataloged, MANY titles prior to 1577 have the LATER “47 W. 63rd NYC” labels (BN 1560 for example).
8. The “47 W. 63rd NYC” was used up through Blue Note 4017 (Horace Silver “Finger Poppin'”). Starting with 4018, an “INC” was added and a “R” registered trademark at the bottom. That means, if you find any record with a number from 4017 on back that HAS the “Inc” and the “R” it is a SECOND PRESSING even if it is Deep-Groove on both sides!
9. The last title with the “47 W. 63rd” labels was BN4080, Hank Mobley’s “Workout” and this one has these labels only on ONE SIDE! Again, there are titles with numbers EARLIER than 4080 that have the later “New York, USA” labels because they were released out of order.
10. Starting with 4081, every single original Blue Note has the “New York, USA labels” right up to the FINAL original release, Don Cherry’s “Complete Communion” (BN 4226). The label was sold to Liberty and EVERY SINGLE RECORD WITH A CATALOG NUMBER HIGHER THAN 4226 is a “Liberty” pressing! Again, there are EARLIER titles that were released AFTER the sale to Liberty as well (Andrew Hill’s “Andrew!” being a good example– BN 4203).
11. Liberty continued to use the left-over “New York, USA” labels for a few months–that’s why you see the “New York” labels on titles as high as “The Jody Grind” from Horace Silver!
12. If you find ANY record with an early catalog number WITHOUT the little “ear” it is a LIBERTY pressing no matter WHAT the label or jacket says! I have seen LIBERTY pressings that had “New York 23” and even “Lexington” labels! Liberty USED UP OLD STOCK including jacket slicks and labels!!!
There is a HUGE difference in both value and sonics between an ORIGNAL pressing of a record like Jackie McLean’s “Swing Swang Swingin'” and a Liberty with the original labels! An original will fetch about $700 in NM condition while the “Liberty” version might only bring $150 in the same condition!