Guest Review: Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide

A few weeks ago one of our regular readers, Jay Fulmer,  asked if I had a chance to review the Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide 3rd edition. This is not something I normally look at. Honestly, when I last looked at it maybe 10 years ago the prices were so off-base, IMHO, that I dismissed it pretty handily. Beyond that, if I want to know the REAL market value of an item, I typically look at Popsike or completed listings on eBay. Putting my own prejudices aside, however, I suggested that if Jay wanted to share his thoughts with the rest of the Jazz Collector community, he was more than welcome to write a guest column. He did. Here it is.

Review: Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide 3rd Edition
By Jay Fulmer

More than a decade since the release of the 2nd edition, the 3rd edition of the Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide is here.  As expected, many LPs have increased in value, but the changes in format from the 1st and 2nd edition are worth noting.

There is a new author for the 3rd edition, Dave Thompson, so I am assuming the format changes originate with him.  The 3rd edition only gives a NM value for listings.  With the addition of new listings this was probably the easiest way to save space.  Anyone familiar with Goldmine’s pricing can easily enough extrapolate backwards, and those unfamiliar with their grading/pricing structure should from now on only buy NM albums!

The most significant format change is the alphabetical listing of album titles within each label category.  This might make finding a title easier, but it throws out the chronological aspect of the previous editions by not listing albums by catalog number.  This format change is not a positive for me, but this is a personal bias as I relied heavily on the 2nd edition when I was cataloging my own collection.  Organizing by catalog number doesn’t necessarily guarantee chronology, but it is certainly much closer than alphabetical by title.

By their nature, catalogs such as Goldmine are “living” documents, constantly evolving as albums and pressings are still being discovered; as well as recording market fluctuations.  I suppose the irregularities and the omissions are a constant part of this evolution, and this 3rd edition has its share.  None of the editions thus far has listed the Anthony Braxton 3LP Oberlin Concert (Artista AL3 8900  1978), or the Richard Davis Trio Song For Wounded Knee (Flying Dutchman FD 10157  1973).  The 3rd edition omits Johnny Griffin Sextet (Riverside 12-264  1958), although it is listed in the previous editions.  The strangest irregularity I found in this new edition is the ABC Impulse Charles Mingus catalog being valued higher than his earlier Impulse releases. Can anyone explain that?

I was pleased to see that the values of the ESP catalog were increased, some surprisingly so.  Also the Blue Note Liberty pressings moved up incrementally and the OJC catalog values were increased.  One example of note is the Paul Bley Debut OJC valued at $150.00!  That increase was unexpected, in light of the fact that it is valued higher than his original 1957 Gene Norman Solemn Meditation LP.  I would love to hear other opinions and impressions of this newest Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide, as I am sure that I have missed many omissions and other pricing irregularities. Will this price guide have an effect on the market over the next decade?

24 comments

  • Gregory the Fish

    can someone explain the $150 OJC before i start screaming?

  • Please use this book anyway you choose. It’s perfect for raising anything around the house about 1″. This book has to be the worst researched on Jazz record pricing ! Truly it is. A discrace and disservice. Here in Texas we say ” It’s like tits on a bull” totally WORTHLESS. Too much left out and too much

  • I can only hope it is a typo that should read $15.

  • There is a near mint one in shrink with a buy now of 27.88 about to end. (+ $25 shipping) LOL

  • This just serves to confirm my established opinion of the lack of accuracy, research and worth of the Goldmine guide when it comes to jazz. I see the same problems in the printed Record Collector guide to record prices here in the UK. Both publications seem to fly in the face of the reality of what’s happening in the real modern market places.

  • I AM STARTING TO SCREAM

  • Personally, I find it hilarious that the Goldmine Jazz Guide uses NM as the benchmark for the prices. Ahh, we see so many of the vintage titles in NM condition, don’t we? Personally, I find all such printed guides a waste of time and the paper they are printed on. It’s like the printed phone books from days of old … go digital, or go home. But in this case, don’t go at all. Price guides are worthless. Yes, tits on a bull for sure.

  • Complete waste of time. I had an old one for a while, as I thought it might be a useful pressing and date resource, but it omits many pressings, the dates are often wrong, and the values are obviously absurd. It’s like looking at a newspaper report on Apple’s earning from Q1 2012 to determine the current value of Apple stock, rather than just looking at the real-time trading price.

  • Contacted the publisher and Dave Thompson.
    We at Jazz record collector would love if Dave Thompson would answer some of our questions. Many of us think the book is a waste of time and are completely wrong. It sucks in so many ways
    Greetings

  • How will I ever know the value of my VG- Flying Dutchman collection with this edition? They really need to address the hot market.

  • Price guides are of course, by their nature, obsolete almost instantly in this age of information on demand. Yet there was a time when they were the primary source, even though errors abounded. And it seems the errors still do.
    I collected during the time of auction lists and bids sent via mail and dealers hoarding information and knowledge of pressings and such arcana learned over time. One had no computer, unless it was your brain,to consult re valuations and the like. I recall scanning small minutiae of print in Goldmine and other such publications, seeking records to bid on. Which, no doubt, has led to my eyes deteriorating.?
    This is,of course, no defense of Goldmine’s price guides and the errors of valuation and omissions it may contain. Rather this column reminded me of days when record collecting was truly an adventure into the unknown, with only one’s wits and negotiating skills to guide one. I always thought an object is only worth what someone would pay for it at that moment in time. And such value can be fleeting.

  • Well said Lenni; even though I’m younger I do remember even in the early 90s buying records from goldmine sellers and from auction and set sale lists received in the mail. I joined eBay in 1998 and things sure have changed…

  • The guy at my local record store uses the 2nd edition guide to price stuff I dig out that he hasn’t yet put in the racks. This has worked in my favor more times than I can remember. Coincidentally, I sold my own 2nd edition copy at a record show last year. I got 10 bucks for it, which is a steal considering the guide had priced itself at $125.

  • Utterly Useless!

  • If I want to know what albums have been selling for, I often use Collector’s Frenzy. 🙂

  • The only Goldmine Book I found that was of any value at all was by Neal Umphred published in 94 and still available on Amazon as of a few months ago. This is more interesting for the information about release dates and contains several neat photos of rare albums’ covers. Umphred is a jazz lover and is fairly well informed. The section describing variations on labeling is worth the whole book. As for pricing (??) well………. who can say anyone is a spot on forecaster of future pricing when it comes to this crazy market? In a lot of instances I have been able to create a spread sheet by taking a value exactly in the middle of the 2 prices that he shows (he lists VG+ & NM prices) I then project that price forward in 2 columns having one represent a 3.5% appreciation per year and the second being 5% per yr. I then can correspond this to items that are for sale on ebay and somewhat accurately (within 10 bucks or so) obtain an idea of what a rational bid would be. I have won many items using this system. (obviously Blue Note and absolutely crazy insanely priced items and one-off rarities are an exception and a world unto themselves.) Only major “off” part with this book is that in 1994 10 inch Jazz was at a very high premium so almost all those prices are way off on the high side. In any event, it is good reference book to have and is sized right (trade paperback as compared to a phonebook size) I’ve had hours and hours of fun with this particular version. (Price Guide To Collectible Jazz Albums 1949 – 1969). I find that the follow up versions that are not complied by Umphred are sloppy, misinformed and put together by people who are not real jazz afficionados. It is no wonder that so many brick and mortar stores I have encountered use these stumbling-around cumbersome and inaccurate volumes as their method of pricing items for sale. The thin columns, unattractive little pictures and meager label history analyses make the newer guides terrible as well as being highly inaccurate and inconsistent. A guide book like this should be fun not awkward.
    That’s my 2 cents worth.
    Happy collecting and listening to all and to all a good night
    Brian Anderson

  • I loved Brian’s detailed note regarding columns and forecasts (w/appreciation) so much that I would gladly send Al a $5 bill for his tip jar based on that post alone. Reading back through the replies, however, I feel as though the Goldmine post was a predictable fresh meat to the wolves at the zoo offering– no diss on authors, merely an expected theme of up-to-the-second values vs. weary printed ones.

    My new topic of interest for the community is these Direct Metal Masters that I keep scoring–WOW! Sure, they are a bit hot on the audio highs, but Eric Dolphy’s ‘Out to Lunch” on DMM? So good. Al, can we get a post on this DMM re-issue topic? I will write it if needed.

  • interesting insights, brian. i know of one brick and mortar store that uses popsike, and another that uses discogs, and neither uses ebay at all. i visit the discogs store a lot. i get lots of bargains. the popsike store? not so much. i also love that in the popsike store, anything that says “coltrane” or “blue note” anywhere on it is apparently automatically worth its NM value plus 10%, despite the fact that it may have one playable track. sigh. some stores don’t realize it, but they are starting shitseums: museums full of shit.

    daryl, i do not collect reissues, but your assessment is interesting to me. most collectors that i know are fairly lukewarm on the DMM reissues, and having only heard one myself (something involving herbie hancock, if memory serves me), i have to say i agree based on that single data point. so they are too hot on the high end, yet the dolphy is a good exception? that’s odd to me. there’s a LOT of highs on the record, though maybe they dialed it back specifically more than other releases? who knows. fascinating!

  • Brian- I also bought a 1996 copy of Goldmine in the 90’s as it was the best resource at the time for label and cover details….there were no web based databases at the time. It took me about a couple of years to realize that it incorrectly stated that the Blue Note label address on BLP 4075 to BLP 4100 was was changed from 63rd St. NYC to 61 St. NYC. I had bought Mobley Workout 4075, Ike Quebec 4098, and Dexter Gordon 4083 for under $20 because they were supposedly “2nd” pressings because they had the New York, NYC address not 61St NYC. I asked a couple of Japanese jazz dealers (they had better research/documentation at that time) who were scooping up all the mint Blue Notes at local NYC record shows and they laughed and admitted that there never was a 61st St label, only the address on the back of the jacket changed. I sent a letter to Neal Umphred with my observations but the next Goldmine still included this anomaly.

  • Daryl — TIP JAR. I like the way you’re thinking. 🙂

  • I saw it in Barnes and Nobles yesterday. I was excited at first and then put it down when I saw original, NM blue notes priced at 60 bucks. Those prices wouldn’t have been accurate ten years ago.

  • Way back in 1981, I purchased a record price guide called “The Record Collectors Handbook” by Alan Leibowitz. This book served me well until around 2000, but after that, the prices became useless and inaccurate. These days, because the record market changes every year, all price guides become dated and worthless quickly. Instead, I use popsike as it’s current and accurate.

  • I’d visit a store that used that as a marker!

  • Yes the Umphred guides were/are useful as catalog resources. The non Umphred guides are useless. I still have v1 and v2 and I refer to them from time to time.

    FYI- 3.5% appreciation from 1994-2017 would be 2.206x the original price, and 5% appreciation would be 3.071x the original price.

    3.5% $10 x 2.206 = $22.06
    5.0% $10 x 3.071 = $30.71

    As a general analysis tool, I am impressed with Mr. Anderson’s methodology. Other variables would have to be taken into account such as the astronomical appreciation for Blue Note and to an extent first pressing Prestige. On the other hand, some titles/pressings have either not kept pace or have declined in value. Ella/Verve titles, Miles 2 eye Columbia titles and many others for example. Always pays to know one’s market.

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