Is There Rhyme or Reason to eBay Pricing Patterns?

eBay, as I’ve said so often on the site, defines the pricing market for jazz collectibles. I’m sure there are still places running auctions by mail and I’m sure places like the Jazz Record Center still get strong retail traffic, but, by and large, if you want to know what a record is worth, look on eBay  — or, even better, look at our Jazz Collector Price Guide, which is taken from eBay and is more comprehensive. Which is just a long way of getting to the point that, even though I’ve been watching the prices of jazz LPs on eBay for years, I’m still often surprised by what I see. Last week we were talking about a two-tier market — and clearly there is, but I’m not sure it’s so different than it was 15 or 20 years ago — and every time I see further compelling evidence of some record prices dropping through the floor, I see other evidence of some record prices soaring through the roof. Here are a few examples of records I’ve been watching this week:

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The Blue Note Story

So the other day I was reorganizing my records, which I do every couple of months, and I took out an old Sidney Bechet record on Blue Note and inside the sleeve found this great little pamphlet, called The Blue Note Story. It’s a four-pager on a coated paper and it clearly dates from 1955 — it talks about Blue Note starting in 1939 — 16 years ago. It is written by Leonard Feather and measures 8-1/2 inches high by 5-1/2 inches wide, which is basically a standard 8-1/2-by-11 sheet folded in half. I will post the entire contents of this pamphlet momentarily. How this rates as I collectible, I have no idea. I do know that, in my view, it’s a helluva a lot more interesting than the Bechet record. I must have three or four dozen Lexington Avenue Blue Notes in my collection — including 10-inch and 12-inch LPs — and I’ve never found this pamphlet in any of the others.

So here’s what it says:

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New Items For the Price Guide, January 25, 2009

Catching up on a Sunday morning with some of the items we’ve been watching on eBay. Here’s one that did not sell, as we expected: Jazz At Massey Hall Volume 3, Debut 2. This was an original 10-inch pressing. The record and cover were VG+. The seller put a base price of $200 on it and did not get any bids.  Here’s another that did not sell because it didn’t meet the seller’s reserve price: Lou Donaldson, Quartet, Quintet, Sextet, Blue Note 1537. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing. The record was listed in VG+ condition and the cover was VG. The top bid was $235.49. In the Jazz Collector Price Guide, we’ve seen this record go from around $240 to as much as $650.  This record is a particular favorite of ours — love how he does If I Love Again — and the copy in our collection is a Japanese pressing, and we would love an original pressing, someday, when the price is right. 

One of the ones on which we did bid was this: Jackie McLean, Alto Madness, Prestige 7114. Again, we have this in our personal collection, but our copy is the New Jazz reissue (actually, it’s worse than that — it’s really a Status reissue). The vinyl was in VG condition

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A Rare Roland Kirk LP, And Some Fond Memories

The other day I was sitting in my room listening to Roland Kirk, Volunteered Slavery, Atlantic 1534 — Side Two, the one that was recorded at the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival. And I was thinking it was a shame that none of his records, other than this one side, ever really captured both his prodigious talents as well as the incredible excitement and amazement he generated with his live performances. I used to see Kirk whenever he would play at the Village Vanguard, and he was a true phenomenon: Three horns strung around his neck to be played in unison; a couple of flutes hanging off his body, including a flute he would play through his nose; various gongs and sirens and alarms and whistles and other noisemakers all aimed at adding various tones and textures to his playing. And his playing — on tenor, on flute, on whatever — was vastly underrated. He could wail and he could swing and he could play ballads and he was just a gifted musician and performer. 

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