The final batch of records has arrived. The guy from the shipping department in the building just brought them up on a hand truck. Three boxes – those banker’s box file boxes, the brown and white ones you get in Stapes. They’ve never been good for storing or transporting records, but hopefully this batch made it through safely. Opening the first box. There’s a sheath of what looks to be sheepskin or some kind of cotton on top. Nice. The records seem safe. On top, an Errol Garner record. No big deal. Going through the records. Each has the same type of soft plastic cover: I have a feeling these were the original covers on the records. In the 1950s and 1960s they didn’t use what we have come to know as shrink wrap, but they used a cover and it fit loosely over the records, just like these. They certainly seem old enough, and dirty enough, and covered with enough dust to have been original covers from the 1950s. No matter. Getting through the box, one by one, record by record.
Let’s close the loop on some of the rare jazz vinyl we’ve been watching here at Jazz Collector, starting with Miles Davis, Someday My Prince Will Come, Columbia, 1656. You may recall this was the record with the inner seal and signed by Miles, Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and JJ. Johnson. When we first looked at this record there was one day left in the auction and the bidding was in the $300 range. The record wound up selling for a whopping $2,091.75.
Here are a few from the recent Jazz Record Center auction, starting with Red Rodney, 1957, Signal 1206. This was an original pressing listed in M- for the cover and probably VG++ for the record. We were commenting that there was no action in the auction but, of course, there was quite a bit at the end. The record wound up selling for $1,324.50. Thelonious Monk, Monk, Columbia 2291. This would not normally appear on a list of collectible records, but this was a promo copy with the white labels. The record was in M- condition and the cover was VG++. It sold for $114.37. From the same auction there were also . . .
Here’s some of the jazz vinyl we’re watching on eBay now, starting with Sonny Rollins Plus Four, Prestige 7038. This looks like an original pressing to me with the first cover illustration, which means it is probably the original frame cover. The seller admits he doesn’t know much about jazz records, but he has this listed in VG++ condition for the vinyl and Ex for the cover and it’s certainly a fine-looking record. The start price is $250 and so far there are no bidders. Am I missing something, or will the bidding just come in late?
Among all kinds of weird stuff, this seller has mixed in a couple of 10-inch jazz gems, including Miles Davis, Young Man with a Horn, Blue Note 5013. This looks to be an original 10-inch pressing. In one place the seller lists it as VG+, and in another he has the vinyl as M-. Quite a difference. The start price for this is about $500 and there is one bid. From the same seller is Miles Davis Volume 2, Blue Note 5022. This one has a similar issue, listed as VG+ in one place and VG++ in another. This one has a start price of around $400 and there is one bid.
Here are some of the items we’re watching on eBay now, starting with some 10-inch LPs: Clifford Brown, New Star on the Horizon, Blue Note 5032. This is an original pressing listed in VG condition for the record and VG for the cover. There are three days left on the auction and the bidding is in the $50 range. Lately, we’ve been seeing high prices for original 12-inch Blue Notes, even those in not-such-great condition, like this one. I have a feeling we won’t see the same phenomenon for the 10-inch records, simply because they are a greater risk to begin with. They typically have more surface noise anyway, at least to these ears. Not sure why that is. Readers? Watching the auctions from this seller will give us a sense of the market, since he has a lot of nice 10-inch LPs in similar shape, including Thelonious Monk Plays, Prestige 189. Actually, this one is in better shape, graded at VG+ for both the record and the cover. The bidding, so far, reflects the better condition. This one is now in the $70 range.
I was also watching this one from the same seller, and I was surprised it fetched as high a price as it did:
Let’s catch up on some of the jazz vinyl we’ve been watching on eBay, starting with: Miles Davis Volume 1, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing in Ex condition for the record and Ex+ for the cover. The final price was $579.
Jackie McLean, Lights Out, Prestige 7035. This was an original pressing in Ex condition for the record and Ex+ for the cover. It sold for $698.88. I thought it would fetch a higher price, but there’s definitely difference between Ex condition and M- condition.
The condition of this one left something to be desired, but it didn’t have much impact on the desirability of the record: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was in VG- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $1,375. Will buyer even listen, or is it just to fill in a gap in the collection?
Back to the business of watching records on eBay, starting with: Lee Morgan, Search for the New Land, Blue Note 4169. This is not typically thought of as one of Morgan’s collectible albums and, indeed, it only shows up twice in the Jazz Collector Price Guide and in neither case did it break the $100 barrier. In this listing, however, the seller adds an interesting twist. He claims he bought the album sealed, never played it or opened it, and then broke the seal to list it on eBay to determine whether it was an original pressing, which, surprise, it actually is. So, if the seller is to be believed (I say, why not), then this is truly a mint record. The price has been bid up accordingly and is now at $200 with more than two days to condition.
Here’s another from Lee: Lee Morgan, The Cooker, Blue Note 1578. This looks to be an original pressing with the West 63rd address, deep grooves, ears, etc. It is listed in VG+ condition for the record and M- for the cover. I’d expect that the bidding would reach at least into the $500 range, given what we’re seeing with VG+ Blue Notes of this era, and perhaps
Here’s some of the jazz vinyl we’re watching now on eBay, starting with a familiar face: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This looks to be an original pressing, albeit without the NY 23 that makes it more original in the minds of some collectors. Interesting thing about this one is that the record is only VG-, while the cover may be VG++ or even better. The seller including some sound clips and there’s definitely some background noise, although for my ears this would be fine. There are more than two days left on the auction and the price is in the $460 range. I would still expect this to sell for close to $1,000 or more, even in VG- condition.
Jackie McLean, Lights Out!, Prestige 7035. This is an original New York pressing. The record looks to be in VG+ condition and the cover VG++, but both could be better, based on the seller’s description. The seller certain did well by himself with a very clear and nice picture of the cover. This one has five days left and the bidding is already close to $400.
I’m still getting used to seeing this one pop up regularly as a high priced collectible:
For those of you interested in jazz art work, photography and ephemera, there is an auction coming up next week of works collected by the former Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall. The collection is being auctioned by Doyle New York, and parts of it can be seen here, including this pretty cool picture of Miles at the right. Cool stuff. Not necessarily my thing, but cool. Now, if he were to sell of his vinyl, that would be another story.
Speaking of artwork, I find this to be cool as well: A photographer by the name of Eilon Paz has spent several years photographing record collectors with their collections and has recently published them in a book titled “Dust and Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting.” You can check out the article here and the Web site here. The photographer is in Brooklyn. Surprised he hasn’t found me yet. Perhaps now he will.
CeeDee sends me random notes and listings of records that are typically out of both his price range and mine as well. Here’s a recent one:
Here’s an interesting one I seemed to miss: Miles Davis, Miles Ahead, Columbia 1041. This is an original pressing but that’s not what makes it interesting. On the back cover are six signatures: Miles Davis, Julian” Cannonball” Adderley, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers. The signatures are all in blue ballpoint pen. The seller admittedly had no idea of the provenance of the signatures or whether they were legitimate. Seems that he picked up the record at a yard sale or estate sale. The cover was probably in VG+ condition with a seam split on the bottom. There were 39 bids on the item and in the last hour it went from about $2,000 to its final price of $3,100.99. Imagine if the signatures aren’t legitimate? Or, on the other hand, imagine what this would have fetched if the signatures were 100% verified. I do have a question, however. Why would Jimmy Cobb sign his name “Jimmie Cobb?” Are there other circumstances where he went by Jimmie, as opposed to Jimmy or, as on Kind of Blue, James Cobb?
So here it is — now we have sellers ripping off bobdjukic to make their auctions look like his and, apparently, to try to weave the same brand of black magic that apparently results in insane prices. And perhaps it works. Take a look at this auction: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. It’s not exactly laid out like one of the bobdjukic auctions, but it’s clearly evocative. And the listing starts with the oh-so-familiar phrase “INSANELY RARE” in all caps, of course. This must be the most widely circulated insanely rare record of all time. The record is graded at near mint minus, whatever that means, and the cover is graded at VG+, which seems highly generous given the obvious ring wear on the front cover and the big signature of a previous owner on the back. But despite whatever flaws we may see in the record and/or the listing, it seems to have that black magic sheen to it and the bidding has already surpassed $260. We didn’t think insanity was a contagious condition, but perhaps we were wrong.