A reader sent me a copy of this sobering article: Those Comics in Your Basement? Probably Worthless. It tells the story of the plight of collectors of comic books who have seen the collections vanish into virtual nothingness. There’s the story of one collector who thought his collection was worth about $23,000 when, in reality, it was worth probably less than $500. Of course, there are the exceptions — the beautiful, pristine, blue-chip first issues. We’ve seen a similar path in the jazz vinyl market, where the run-of-the-mill pressings are now pretty much worthless, while the high-end collectibles seem to getting more and more valuable as the years pass by. But we also see that the list of what is deemed “collectible” changes as well, although the original Blue Notes seem to be invulnerable to any downturns. Some records by more traditional artists, thinking of the Verve, Clef and Norgran labels for example, seem to have declined in value and/or interest among collectors over the years that we’ve been watching the market. What do you think? Time to start thinking about selling that old vinyl while the demand is still high, or will the high-end collectibles continue to be a solid investment, not just musically but financially as well? Or do you even care as long as you have the music? Seems to me, anyone paying collectible prices for rare records these days is not just doing it for the music, but with the expectation that the records will at least maintain their value and, hopefully, continue to increase in value.
Is it just me, or is there a softness in the market these days? To expedite my posting I sometimes do a search of jazz records for sale filtered through the highest prices first. There are often $1,000 records and many in the $500-plus category. Lately, however, the searches in that range have been coming up short. Are prices relatively flat at this point or is there just less good stuff on eBay now? These things go in cycles so I wouldn’t put any meaning into it either way. In the meantime, here are some of the rare jazz records that came up on my latest search.
Red Rodney, Signal 1206. This is an interesting one because of the condition. There’s a nice clear picture of the cover, which may give the impression that the cover is in nice condition. However if you look closely and read the description, the cover is in only G condition. And the vinyl is only VG. Despite the condition issues, however, the bidding is already more than $400. I guess this LP is in greater demand than I would have realized.
This is another one that’s getting up there in price, somewhat to my surprise: Booker Little, Time 52011. This is an original mono pressing with the deep grooves and gatefold cover. The record is in M- condition and the cover is VG+. The bidding has already topped $250 and the auction closes later today. Perhaps my previous comment about a soft market was premature.
These closed yesterday: Sabu, Palo Congo, Blue Note 1561. I must admit, this is one I’ve never owned in any form, so 1561 has always been a blank in my Blue Note Collection. How is this record? Is it worth a listen? This one was in VG++ condition for the record and VG for the cover. It sold for $811. This one didn’t look quite right to me: Sonny Rollins, Volume 1, Blue Note 1542. It was listed as an original pressing, although it was a West 63rd Street pressing, so it wasn’t quite an original as we define it here. And it looked like the wrong cover for an original. The start price was about $300 and there were no bidders, which seems appropriate.
This one also has no bids and is closing in just a few hours: Kenny Burrell, Blue Lights Volume 2, Blue Note 1597. This is an original pressing with the Andy Warhol cover. The record is listed in VG condition with “quite a few surface scratches.” The cover is listed as VG++. The start price is around $200, which is pretty tempting if the cover is, indeed, really VG++.
Here’s another temptation:
Very busy with real work this week, but there’s always time to take a look at eBay for interesting jazz vinyl. Here’s some of the records we’re watching, starting with: Introducing Kenny Burrell, Blue Note 1523. This looks to be an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in VG+ condition,. The start price is around $250 and so far there are no bidders. You’d think there would be bidding for an original Lexington Avenue pressing at $250: Perhaps it’s condition. The seller mentions “minimal light surface noise” and states “No Skips!” with an exclamation point. I think it’s the NO SKIPS PLUS EXCLAMATION POINT that would have me worried as a bidder. The least you’d expect out of a VG+ record is no skips, right? This one is from the same seller, also has the NO SKIPS! in the listing and also has no bidders: Freddie Hubbard, Open Sesame, Blue Note 4040. This one is listed as VG+++ condition for the vinyl and G for the cover. The start price is around $650.
Atomic Records has some nice vinyl on eBay this week, including:
Jackie McLean, Lights Out, Prestige 7035. This is from the same seller that is selling the Mobley, which is now approaching $3,500 and still hasn’t met the reserve price. The Jackie record looks to be in what I would call VG++ condition for the vinyl and VG+ for the cover. It is an original pressing with the yellow label and New York address. The record is in the $400 price range and has already passed its reserve.
Doug Watkins, Soulnik, Prestige/New Jazz 8238. This looks to be an original purple label pressing with the deep grooves. The record is listed in M- condition and the cover is VG++, with a Preview Copy stamp on the back. The start price for this one is around $150 and so far there are no bidders.
John Coltrane, Cattin’ With Paul Quinichette, Prestige 7158. This is an original yellow label pressing with the deep grooves and it is in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The start price is around $300 with no bidders. The seller may be stretching a bit with that start price, but then again . . . . .
When I slipped off the face of the Jazz Collector earth last week there was a pending auction I was watching from the Jazz Record Center. So, just to complete my updating process, here are some of the jazz records from that auction:
Man, some of the Eric Dolphy records are going for big bucks. The latest example: Eric Dolphy in Europe Volume 1, Prestige 7304. This was an original pressing with the yellow label — near the end of the cycle for yellow-label Prestiges. The cover was in the original shrink wrap and both record and cover were in M- condition. this one sold for $565.55.
Bill Evans, Interplay, Riverside 9445. This was an original stereo pressing with the black labels. The record and cover were in M- condition. The price was $191.38.
Here were a couple of Candids: Charles Mingus, Mingus, Candid 8021. This was an original pressing with the deep grooves and it was in great condition, M- all the. It also had a promo stamp. Nice cover, right? Also features Eric Dolphy and Booker Ervin. You’d think it would be worth more than $115.50 but, alas, that was the sale price. Charles Mingus (et al), Newport Rebels, Candid 8022. This too was an original deep groove mono pressing in M- condition. It sold for $113.50.
Funny that I did the post yesterday about non-Blue Note jazz vinyl and then noticed an e-mail from the Jazz Record Center with an auction consisting of non-Blue Note jazz vinyl. And then CeeDee sent me a separate note about a New Jazz Eric Dolphy LP fetching quite a high price. To wit:
Eric Dolphy at the Five Spot Volume 1, New Jazz 8260. This was an original purple label pressing with the deep grooves. The record was only VG+ condition and the cover was M-. The price was $887. We’ve seen this record sell for more than $900 previously in the Jazz Collector Price Guide, so it’s not unprecedented. But VG+ vinyl? Per CeeDee: New JAzz — the new Blue Note?
Some of the Jazz Record Center items: Bill Evans, Interplay, Riverside 9445. This is an original stereo pressing with the black label. It looks to be in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The start price is $100 and there is already a bidder so it will sell. Charles Mingus (et al), Newport Rebels, Candid 8022. This is an original mono pressing that looks to be in M- condition all around. The start price is $75 and so far there are no bidders. I always thought this would be a record more prized by collectors, given the additional presence of Kenny Dorham and Eric Dolphy, among others, and also the unusual circumstances that led to the recording. But, it doesn’t usually get top dollar. This is another one I have to put on the turntable again, since I haven’t listened to it in years.
Gigi Gryce and the Jazz Lab Quintet, Riverside 229. This is an original white pressing that is in what looks like M- condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. I’ve had this record for about 25 years and it’s always had a prominent place in my collection, but I can’t recall listening to it more than once, probably 25 years ago. I know one of our readers had commented earlier that it wasn’t all that great. Perhaps today is the day to finally put it on the turntable and judge for myself. It’s not just me, right? We all have nice collectible records that we’ve either never listened to or listened to just once? This one closes in a few hours and is in the $350 price range.
Dizzy Reece, Star Bright, Blue Note 4023. This looks to be an original deep groove pressing with the West 63rd Street address. The seller has created his own grading schema. If I were to judge the descriptions based on the grading system used by most of us, and certainly used by us here at Jazz Collector, I would guess that this one is in VG+ condition. It closes in a couple of days and is already at around $400.
Here’s a seller offering some nice 10-inch LPs, including:
Time to update the $1,000 bin and there is quite a lot to update, not counting some of the ones we’ve watched recently, such as the Hank Mobley 1568 and others from the recent Jazz Record Center auction. Here goes:
Paul Gonsalves, Boom-Jackie-Boom-Chick, Vocalion 587. This was an original British pressing that looks to be in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $1,593.88.
Lee Morgan, Candy, Blue Note 1590. This was an original pressing with the West 63rd Street address and it was in VG++ condition for the record and the cover. It sold for $1,578.99.
This was a surprise to sell for such a high price tag: Clifford Brown Memorial Album, Blue Note 1526. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing with the framed cover. It was in M- condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. It sold for $1,567.
Jackie McLean, The New Tradition, Ad Lib 6601. This was an original pressing. The cover was VG+, but the record was in VG or worse condition, based on the seller’s description. It sold for $1,376.11.
Finally, here’s one we meant to include from the Jazz Record Center auction because it was actually in the $3,000 bin:
Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was an original pressing of one of the rarest and most valuable of all jazz records and it was sold by the most reputable of all jazz sellers, the Jazz Record Center in New York. The record was in M- condition and the cover looked like VG++. We’ve seen this record sell for more than $5,000 in the past on the Jazz Collector Price Guide. Not this time. This one sold for a mere $3,362.
Presenting Ernie Henry, Riverside 222. This was also from the Jazz Record Center and it was an original white label pressing that looked to be in quite lovely condition, M- for both the record and the cover. This one sold for $510. Great cover, isn’t it? Perfection, really, with the great picture and his eyes closed and the scripted typeface with the finger pointing to Ernie. Love it. Great record too.
This seller had a few interesting records from the Prestige New Jazz label, including: