Have you just found some old Vinyl Records in your basement or attic and you are wondering how much they are worth? Well, keep on reading and I’ll go through some of the different variables that must be considered when putting a value on a record.
This is maybe the single most important factor when setting a value on a vinyl record. Does the record have scratches? Is the cover intact? These are some of subjective judgment you need to make when grading the condition of your vinyl records. There are several different grading systems and methods that can help. There is no standard system, however some are more widely accepted than others- I recommend using the system made by Goldmine:
Absolutely perfect in every way. Certainly never been played, possibly even still sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, If at all.
Near Mint (NM or M-)
A nearly perfect record. Many dealers won’t give a grade higher than this implying (perhaps correctly)that no record is ever truly perfect. The record should show no obvious signs of wear.
Very Good Plus (VG+)
Generally worth 50 percent of the Near Mint value. A Very Good Plus record will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
Very Good (VG)
Generally worth 25 percent of Near Mint value. Many of the defects found in a VG+ record will be more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise will be evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during a song’s intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise.
Good (G), Good Plus (G+) Generally worth 10-15 percent of the Near Mint value. Good does not mean Bad! A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be put onto a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear
It is normal to use this scale to grade both the condition of the vinyl record itself and it’s accompanying sleeve. Giving your vinyl records (an their sleeves) an as honest and precise condition grading is the first and most important step towards understanding their value.
2. Supply and demand
Of course not all vinyl records is manufactured in the same number. Some records, by say The Beatles, could be mass produced in the millions, while most records released by smaller artists on smaller independent labels would just pressed in runs of a few thousand or even less. However, that vinyl records by The Beatles or Rolling Stones holds little value and that records by underground bands holds an higher value. Rather, on the contrary, some of the world’s most valuable records are by The Beatles. How? That is connected to release number, release year and the history and modern-day popularity of an artist or band. Let’s first look at History and popularity.
3. History and popularity
Vinyl records that represent a historic value today often commands high prices. Examples can be early Motown singles, as Motown grew to became one the biggest and most important institutions for soul music, same with original releases from genres like garage rock, krautrock, psychedelia that have grown in popularity over the years. Also, recordings from artists and groups that have grown in popularity over the years or first received the recognition they deserved after their demise often commands high prices.
4. Release number and release year.
Without the release number, which also tells you which label released the record and release year it is very difficult to set a value on a vinyl record. First of all, some labels might be more collectible than others. That is especially true of certain labels that specializes on one-off and limited vinyl releases. Secondly, and more important release number and year will tell you which pressing you own, if you own the original first pressing or a re-issue for example. Most popular records will be pressed in more rounds depending on popular demand. If you have original pressing of a Beatles record from 1965, you can be sure that this record is worth more than the same LP reissued in 1973 for example. The world’s most valuable vinyl records are often either test pressings or original releases that have been pulled off the market for various reasons and therefore very few copies are in circulation.
5. Extras and Limited Editions
Many vinyl records are also often pressed in two different editions. The normal one in a high number and a special edition in a very limited run. These often includes extras, inner sleeve with liner notes, gatefold cover, additional songs and similar. This is then also important to take into consideration when asserting the value of a vinyl record.