To Unseal, or Not To Unseal: That is the Question

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:

“That’s a really good question. The price difference between an MGM Verve and a Trumpeter Verve can be significant, if it’s a Lester Young or Stan Getz, for example. If it’s a Dizzy or Hampton or some other more common artist, it won’t matter as much. You can’t tell by the cutout holes. I don’t have a good answer for you. Some people want to buy sealed records just to say they’ve never been opened.
Others won’t buy sealed records at all because they can’t see the label. Are you planning to sell them on eBay or to a private party?

“I think what I would do is open a few of the Verve records to get a sense. When you are selling them, you can always say that it was sealed and unplayed and that you only opened it to see if it was an original pressing. If the few that you open have the trumpeter logo, you can say on the others that you list that you have similar records of the same vintage and they were originals (or not). Another option is to put a few of them up for sale on eBay sealed, see what you get for them and then ask the buyers if they were original pressings or later issues, such as MGM on some of the Verves. Let me know what you decide, only because I’m curious. Where are the records located? — al”

“PS — do you have any sealed Tal Farlows? My friend was a protege of Tal and I might be interested.”


  • Unseal, however if a buyer took a gamble and never opened the album they’d be none the wiser.

  • geoffrey wheeler

    The holes in remaindered LPs referred to in the text above used to be called “Annie Oakleys,” named after the legendary American female sharpshooter of late 19th and early 20th centuries. As part of her Wild-West-show act, she would shoot holes in playing cards tossed in the air. She was so accurate, she could hit the edge of a playing card. Tickets often came with holes punched in them, indicating they were comps. They, too, were called “Annie Oakleys.” Oakley was world famous during her heyday.

  • Hi,
    Hopefully when you say “the drill went thru the original plastic” you are referring to the shrink wrap not the record!!
    Drilled albums served two purposes during the 50’s thru the 70’s. They could be used as promos when an LP was released so it could not be resold for the same price. This happened sometimes when the record copy did not have enough “promo labelled records” or at the request of the label to get more samples to the radio stations, record stores for in-store play or a reviewer such as Kal Rudman’s Friday Morning Quarterback. The second reason would be for overstock or deleted records down the road and could be dumped onto rack-jobbers on the cheap.

  • The question which should have been asked is “Should one open an authentically sealed album (i.e. FS – factory sealed) ?” To take Verve as an example, in Verve’s heydays, with the trumpeter label, their albums would come unsealed, this was standard practice. Only around V-8400, when they introduced gatefold sleeves, they would issue them factory sealed. So if the records from this collection are Annie Oakleys, with the seals punched, they are most likely later issues.
    One has got to have been around in those days, to know the relative value of a “sealed” album. In the fifties very few labels issued their records FS. Verve, Blue Note, Pacific Jazz and Prestige were not amongst them, none of the Europeans (Vogue, Tempo, Esquire, Philips, Metronome) were.
    In the late sixties many retail shops would, as a standard practice, seal their old stocks and left overs. The value of these “seals” is dubious. Upon opening the seal, one may find rubbish.

  • Happy New Year To All !

    Here I am Listening to TUBBS – Tubby Hayes -Fontana TFL 5142

    I really like this LP and it has so many different sounds on it to appeal to every discerning Jazz taste.

    Hard Bop , Cool , Big Band Swing , Hipster Cat , you name it !

    Anyone else on this ?


  • Joseph,
    Check out Tubby’s Back In Town on Smash – it’s his date with Roland Kirk, your description of TUBBS would apply to this Marvelous LP as well
    Happy New Year

    Sealed records only sound good after you open them (hopefully!)

  • Jay:

    I Love Roland Kirk. Wow and with Tubby Hayes ? I never new about this LP. I will get right on that !



    P.S Yes, play those sealed copies ! Never had a issue with sealed 40 + year old copies yet. Opened quite a few in my day and all were fine with no warping to my memory. Maybe I’m a lucky one….

  • Tubby… good Idea… i just play “Tubby Hayes and the All Stars” – Return Visit! on Fontana, black Label-mono with Jimmy Gloomy, Roland Kirk, Walter Bishop, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. Real nice sound…

  • by the way: Who is “Jimmy Gloomy” on tenor and flute ?

  • Dear Horti62 once again one of the great puns of jazz names : Jimmy Gloomy= James Moody !

  • I too would love sharp copies of those Farlows. Nice!

  • Bob Friedman (Dayton Records)

    I am the person with the sealed record issue. I thank all those who responded.
    My name is Bob Friedman

    I think there are a few Tal Farlows and they might be sealed.
    I am in Begen County New Jersey

  • hey bob, what IS your email?

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