I received an interesting question from a reader about sealed records. I am sharing my response here because: 1. It’s an interesting question and I thought it might provoke some interesting responses, and 2. When I tried to reply directly, my email got bounced and I don’t know how to get in touch with the questione otherwise. Anyway, here’s the question:
“I have a couple of hundred “factory sealed jazz albums from late 50’s to mid 70’s. These are from a store stock I owned. I want to start selling them but I can’t tell a prospective buyer what the label looks like (ex Trumpet Verve). What is best way to offer them for sale? Many have drill holes in cover and you can see that the drill went through the orig plastic.”
And here’s my answer:
There was a time not all that long ago when obscure records with relatively abrasive – or at least not for the feint of heart – musical content didn’t break the bank or require a second mortgage on one’s house. This was even the case for the first several years of online record buying, when private-press free jazz LPs were, though rare, not a matter of renegotiating one’s financial well-being to obtain. Well, that period has been officially over for a while now, but nevertheless the hits keep coming and new price points are reached. Take, for example, the lone LP by the Black Unity Trio, Al-Fatihah, on their own Salaam imprint. It’s a scarce and in demand post-Ayler document out of Cleveland, Ohio featuring an early appearance of cellist/bassist Abdul Wadud, along with saxophonist Yusuf Mumin (of the Norman Howard group) and drummer Haasan Al-Hut. Most copies I’ve run across look like they’d been run over by a skateboard and tossed into a puddle. This one was better, with a grade of VG++ for the vinyl and probably a strong VG for the matte white cover. Nevertheless, $2,355 is nearly double the next highest price in the internet marketplace and there was a time several years ago when $400-$500 was a healthy number for this album. Not anymore! Read more
Back in business with a few items we’ve been watching on eBay. We haven’t been buying records for a white but we decided to try to win a couple of items recently, using our sniping software. Here’s what happened, starting with: Lester Young and Teddy Wilson, Pres and Teddy, Verve 8205. This was an original pressing with the trumpeter logo that was in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. I was perusing eBay and noticed this with a start price of $99 and no bidders, quite close to the end of the auction. I do own a copy of this record, but it is a bit of a mess, VG- cover and VG record. I have had a clean copy of this record in the past and, quite honestly, I don’t recall what happened to it. I can’t imagine I sold it or traded it, as it is one of my favorite Pres records. In any case, the idea of upgrading my copy was quite compelling, and it seemed as if there might not be any action on this record so I tried to sneak in a bid in the range of about $11.50. The final price was $113.50, so someone else had the same idea, but decided to go with a higher bid. How how, we’ll never know, but I will keep on the lookout for a clean copy of this record and would have no problem paying in the low hundreds for one.
I tried a similar tactic with this record, also to no avail:
Now that I have no election to obsess over, and I don’t yet have the appetite to read about what will happen next to my wonderful country, I have more time to listen to records, read about jazz and look at the always interesting activity on eBay. So, perhaps, I will do more Jazz Collector posts and finally set aside time to put into the Jazz Collector Price Guide, which can really use an update. Look for the silver lining, as the wonderful song says.
Anyway, here are a few of items that recently sold on eBay, starting with Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover, with some visible staining on the back cover that could be a turn off for some buyers, but obviously was not that big a turn off for the buyer of this copy, who paid $2,850.88. In fact, looking over the cover pictures again, it looks like VG+ is a pretty generous grade. I have an absolutely clean version of this record that I purchased from the Bruce M. West collection in Baltimore, thoughts of which always put a smile on my face.
I’ve been off eBay for a few days recovering from my Bronx adventure, so today I will go back to my watch list and take inventory of what I have missed, starting with The Amazing Bud Powell Volume 2, Blue Note 5041. This was an original 10-inch pressing listed in near mint condition for the record and probably M- or VG++++ for the cover. It had a start price of $595 and did not get any bids. On the one hand I’m surprised because you just don’t find many 10-inch Blue Notes in this kind of condition. And this is a great record, with a great cover. On the other hand, $600 is still a lot of money.
Everybody’s favorite, bobdjukic, was back with some auctions and, as usual, some hyperbole. This was a highlight from Ella Fitzgerald, and I will give the full title because it is quite a weird mouthful: Miss Ella Fitzgerald and Mr. Gordon Jenkins (with His Orchestra and Chorus) Invite You to Listen and Relax, Decca 8696. According to the listing this is “Easily and By Far Ella Fitzgerald’s Rarest Studio Album in Existence!” I love that stuff, and then it gets topped off with the old standby “ultra-rare.” Somehow this stuff actually works. The record and cover were graded VG++, although the description makes it clear that VG++ for the cover is a wild stretch, since there is actually a partial seam split. Anyway, some how, some way, someone bid $259 for this record. I think I got my copy, in better condition, for $5 at a record show, which was not far from the going rate a few years back. Read more
Readers continue to express shock and awe at the prices on the funkyousounds auction of the Dr. Herb Wong collection. One missive comes in from Dylan concerning this record: Duke Pearson, The Right Touch, Blue Note 84267. This is a Liberty pressing. An original Liberty, but a Liberty nonetheless. And it is a stereo pressing. This one had a promo stamp. The record was M- and the cover was VG++. The price was $560. And then there was Gerry Mulligan, Night Lights, Phillips 600-108. This is the one we mentioned the other day. Stereo pressing, promo stamp, VG++ condition. We were surprised when the bidding had reached $60. The final price was $434. If anyone has a viable explanation for this one, I’d love to hear it: Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges, Blues Summit Verve 8822. This is a reissue — the type that is very hard to sell on eBay for even $10 or $15. This was a sealed copy and it sold for $349.67. Or this one: Miles Davis, Milestones, Columbia 40837. This is just a plain old reissue. I remember seeing these all the time in $2 or $5 bins. This one sold for $278. I’m going to do a few more, just because I’m sitting here absolutely stunned as I go through the list:
CeeDee sent a note last week with a few links, including the Red Garland Manteca we mentioned the other day. Another one from the list: Stan Getz, The Steamer, Verve 8294. This also came from the Herb Wong collection. I love this record, but this was a second pressing with the MGM logo. It was in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $97. An aberration or a shift in the market? Seed’s comment was that it “looks like even the more commonly seen LPs can bring in a haul these days.” That’s true to an extent, although it’s hard to say that even the MGM presses are commonly seen. We’ll keep an eye on this trend. I saved a lot of the MGM pressings from the Irving Kalus collection. I grew my collection on these pressings, almost all purchased from my late friend Red Carraro, who had boxes and boxes in his basement for many years. No doubt, Irving purchased them from the same place.
The other night I was sitting in the living room with The Lovely Mrs. JC and we she was reading and I wanted to put on some music. I asked what she would like and she asked for something mellow. I said I could do that. So I went up to the shelves and stared for a while, you know, how you just stare at an open refrigerator waiting for inspiration. For “mellow” my go-to choices would typically be Bill Evans or Coltrane Ballads or perhaps a Chet Baker, since The Lovely Mrs. JC is a fan of all of the above. But I wanted something different and I somehow settled on a Johnny Hodges record, In a Mellow Tone, Norgran 1092. Normally, Hodges is not someone that I would put on the turntable, but she asked for mellow and mellow was actually in the title of this record and it had always been one of my favorite Hodges LPs. Listening to it was quite a revelation. The music is of a pre-bop vintage, but it is actually quite timeless and absolutely beautiful. If you have it, put it on, and perhaps pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy. From there, I wanted to move to something a little bit more modern and I chose
Here are a variety of jazz records from my eBay watch list, as I still get back into the swing of things following my trip to Italy and subsequent return to reality. Let’s start with Doug Watkins at Large, Transition 20. This was an original pressing that looked to be in absolutely pristine condition, including the record, cover and booklet. Even the labels seemed to be intact. Potential bidders probably assumed, and probably correctly, that this may be the cleanest version of this record to come on the market some 60 years after its original release. So it sold for a whopping $3,161.
While I’m looking at whopping prices, here’s another: Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan, Peckin’ Time, Blue Note 1574. This was an original pressing with the deep grooves, ears, West 63rd address, etc. It was listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. It sold for $2,750.
And then there are some records that don’t sell at all, or sell for relatively low prices. To wit:
Allow me to take you away from your favorite subject for a moment and catch up on some items in the Jazz Collector inbox. First are a couple from our reliable friend CeeDee, who always has something interesting to offer. This one is Johnny Griffin, Lady Heavy Bottom’s Waltz, German Vogue 17164. I’ll admit I’ve never seen or heard of this one, but I do imagine that the title song would be interesting. It’s a recording from 1968. This one was in M- condition for the record and the cover and it sold for $240.37. CeeDee also sent this one: Jazz by Sun Ra, Volume 1, Transition 10. This was an original pressing with the booklet. The record and the cover both looked to be in about VG++ condition. The price was $660, which CeeDee considered to be something of a bargain. I wouldn’t really know myself because I’ve never been a collector of Sun Ra records and actually only own one or two. I guess I’m missing something. I also had many opportunities to see Sun Ra, but never did.