A Classic, But Is It A Collectible?

Ellington copyFollowing up on the latest auction from the Jazz Record Center, starting with Duke Ellington at Newport, Columbia 934. This was an original mono six-eye pressing. The record itself was sealed — in those days Columbia had a sealable inner sleeve. So the record was unplayed and the cover was M-. The price was $227.50. This is quite an important record in the history of jazz, capturing the concert that helped to revitalize Ellington’s career, but I’ve never known it to be particularly collectible. I’ve had original pressings at record shows and haven’t been able to sell them, even for $20. I’m not sure how much the market has changed for this record, although in certain circumstances, such as this one, clearly it can now sell for collectible prices. There was a previous copy that once sold for about $127, but the seller was bobdjukic so I’ve always assumed that was an aberration.

John Coltrane, The Believer, Prestige 7292. This was an original yellow label pressing with the New Jersey address. The record looked to be in M- condition and the cover was M- as well. The final price was $144.37. I’ve always felt this later Prestige original Coltrane pressings were a potential bargain. It was all original material, it was just issued after Coltrane had moved on to record for Atlantic. These are all excellent records, with Trane playing a lot of standards, often in quintet settings. Getting an original Trane Prestige for less than $150 seems like a good deal to me.

Oliver Nelson, The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Impulse 5. This was an original white label mono pressing that looked to be in M- condition for the record and the cover. It sold for $182.50, another potential bargain, IMHO. Jazz at JJ’s. We wrote about this one the other day, so you can click that link for details (my Internet is running slow, so I can’t link to it now). This one sold for $525.55. Dave Bailey, Bash, Jazzline 33-10. This one was in M- condition for the record and probably VG+ for the cover. It sold for $616.69.



  • It is my observation that condition has become extremely important to the buyer, even more so than previously. Sealed records (as is the case here) go for a substantially larger premium over mere VG++ LP’s, as do items with a certifiable M-/M- rating (certifiable meaning a seller with a strong reputation).
    Condition, always important, is now, seemingly, all.

  • Agree with Earl. I also wonder if there exist any other record label besides Columbia that did the sealed polybags for the disc? I happen to have a sealed copy of Miles Smiles but have never personally come across another record label that did this. This takes the guesswork out of these “original, still sealed” records that are a complete mystery inside.

    Regarding paying a premium for M- records, I prefer to have 4 VG+ records to 1 M- that I would be afraid to play.

  • I feel like if you’re going to pay through the nose for a record, it might as well be clean.

  • I’ve seen multiple unplayed copies of the Ellington record for <$15. It's incredibly common. Obviously a tremendous and important record, but not worth anything approaching $227.

  • Clifford Allen

    Agreed, the price is insanely high. Then again I’ve seen $400 BYGs before (and, while often good, none compare to an Ellington record), so anything is possible.

  • How in the world can a WLP of Blues and the Abstract Truth – with the original cover – go for $50 less than Ellington at Newport!?! Further, the following records in this JRM auction also sold for less than the Ellington: Mal Waldron Trio on New Jazz; Joe Henderson – Our Thing; Winchester Special on New Jazz; Bud Powell – Time Waits; and Billie Holiday Sings – Mercury 10″ with the all-time classic DSM cover. All of those records are significantly rarer than Ellington at Newport. Craziness!

  • “It was all original material, it was just issued after Coltrane had moved on to record for Atlantic.”

    Don’t you mean Impulse?

    PS – Clifford Allen, what are BYGs?

  • Terryfromflorida

    I was the buyer of the “Blues and Abstract Truth” and also the “Time Waits” albums. I thought they were a good deal from such a reliable seller.
    I did bid $515 on the Jazz at JJ”s which to me was on the high side and still lost by 10 bucks…oh well…

  • Gregory The Fish

    aaron, after prestige, trane went to atlantic for a few years before he went to impulse. ole’, giant steps, etc. were released on atlantic.

  • Aaron: BYG Actuel: A French label

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