When an Original is Not an Original

I was watching a few jazz vinyl auctions as they closed the other day with some degree of interest because of what I considered to be the clear misuse of the word “original.” Here’s an example: Lee Morgan, Lee-Way, Blue Note 4034. This was labeled as an “original mono pressing from 1964.” What does original mean in this case? It is clearly not a first pressing, since the address on the label is New York USA. The seller is a veteran eBayer and I’ve bought from him a few times and I’ve always had good experiences. So he knows the difference between a real original and a pseudo original. Was a buyer duped in this transaction? Well, there were pictures of the label and the New York USA labels were clearly stated, so if someone thought this was an original first pressing, he was being quite careless and/or was ignorant. It’s hard to tell from the price. The record sold for $136.50, but the back was stained and in VG- condition. My bet is if the listing did not use the word “original” then a second (or third, or fourth) pressing of Lee-Way with a stained back cover would not have sold for more than $100. So the seller probably made a few more bucks and the buyer got a later pressing with a stained cover.

Here’s another one that’s hard to figure:

Miles Davis, Steamin’, Prestige 7200. This was an original pressing in VG++ condition for both the record and the cover, very nice with nice pictures. It sold for $68. A few weeks ago were surprised to see a nice copy of this sell for as little as $75, then the Jazz Record Center had a copy sell last week for $307.99, and now we’re back down to $68. What gives? This is definitely a great record, but the yo-yoing price will wreak havoc on followers of the Jazz Collector Price Guide, assuming I get around to updating it one of these days.

10 comments

  • Regarding the Miles Davis Steamin’, is it possible the $307.99 copy sold for that much based the Jazz Record Center’s reputation?

    I have yet to purchase anything from him on eBay but I’ve purchased from the store and have the Blue Note book. Based on his contributions to jazz alone, I would trust the JRC over 99% of eBay sellers.

    His auctions are solid and don’t seem to shine up poor product. I can just imagine the varying quality of records that come across the desk. In the end, he seems to sell only the quality. That’s worth paying a little more, isn’t it?

  • I have an original ‘Steamin’ LP cover hanging in my office. I always feel like somewhat of a bad ass because Miles is lighting up a ciggy on the cover and I work at a hospital.

  • In this particular case, Maybe The Miles being in Hua-Hin, Prachuapkhirikhan, Thailand, having some reflection on price, maybe, for no real reason, people in the States are put off from bidding on the item because of the location. Nothing to back that theory up, just a suggestion ! But a bargain !

  • Yes, Adamski I think you may be right. Given the choice of buying from The Jazz Record Center or some guy in Thailand, I would choose the JRC. Not sure it would be a $230 difference, though, but it definitely would count for a lot.

  • Richard Connerton

    It does suck when you can’t help but be suspicious that a record sold for more than if the seller did not identify the record as an original (and it really wasn’t), especially if you get outbid. Cohen’s book advises me on when I may or may not be able to use the word “original”. The one area where I definitely think it’s ok to use original is for a title released in the New York USA period with the “P”–regardless of deep grooves. I don’t mean to revive this old, overly argued topic but at this point it’s pretty clear that there is no way to know whether deep grooves or non-deep grooves are originals after 4059. (FTR, if anything, the evidence indicates that NON-deep grooves are the originals, based on evidence provided by review copies).
    .
    It’s a fact of life that we gotta deal with sellers who “misuse” the word original. Sometimes you get inexperienced buyers who fall for it and have money, other times they’re not around and you get a good deal. This game is all about patience IMO.

  • My thoughts on this is that it’s not ok to use the word original when it’s not a 1st pressing. Then you should write for example; original 2nd pressing, or original later pressing. Just the word original, then I think 1st. But this is nothing compared to all the other hustlers on eBay who uses the words “1st edition” when it’s clearly a much later pressing. Straight up lies. You gotta know your stuff. eBay is a jungle, and you’re the prey 🙂

  • We went through this before, with the ambiguity of other listings, dressing things up with buzz words and not providing back cover photos to purposely deceive and catch a pigeon if possible. Might be legal, but I still think it skirts the edges. I see listings all the time where people list ear or dg, not having any earthly idea what those are? Saw an Andrew Hill Black Fire a few weeks back, said Original DG Mono. it was a liberty stereo pressing! I do agree though, especially when dealing with one off type sellers, it’s buyer beware, they legitimately are ignorant. But the dealer who is experienced? I would have a hard time buying from them based on principal.

  • Is it possible that the seller made a boner move, in the case of the Lee-way? The cover is annihilated so I wouldn’t have bit anyway, but… just a thought. I’m willing to let some veteran sellers slide.

  • In some cases you could argue that the word Original would mean that is in this case a genuine pressing from Blue Note Records. Not from EMI France, Music Matters or Japan.

    But it is hard to agree what original means. In the movie poster world original usually means “not a reprint” and that the poster was made and intended to display at a real movie theater.

    Many LP collectors would agree that Original means “first pressing” to them and fellow collectors so sellers should be very careful to use the word original concerning collectable LPs. In Sweden some vendors use Original UK pressing or origional German pressing if it’s the first pressing from the year the LP was issued. I geass it’s ok if the country of origin is clearly displayed.

  • Again, naughty of the seller to list Orig on this later NY pressing (Lee-Way), especially as Al says he is an experienced Blue Note seller, but as we said previously, do you flipping homework as a buyer!
    I guess some folk are happy to have a later pressing and still pay quite a lot for them. TBH it isn’t that hard to find out first pressing to second etc with the Blue Note catalogue as there has been so much written and discussed by us sad old geezers 😉

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