The average record dealer can visit many houses sometimes rooting through endless records before finding worthwhile items to purchase. For me the three qualities required in a worthwhile collection are “Right records, right condition and right price”. It is surprisingly hard to achieve a combination of these three factors, with near perfect “James Last” records or decidedly over played 60s records populating most collections up and down the Country.
Anybody trying to make a little profit out of buying and selling vinyl will soon find out that condition is a major factor in being a successful dealer. All vinyl sellers if pushed will admit to purchasing items that on closer inspections are decidedly shabbier than on first inspection. The most important factor in viewing vinyl, very often in people’s houses is finding a place with good light. Forty watt bulbs closed curtains and cloudy days can hide a multitude of sins with well marked vinyl looking much cleaner and presentable. It is also worth pointing out that viewing vinyl outdoors also has its pitfalls with cloudy days or poor light again hiding the finer surface marks. The best solution to this problem in my experience is to carry a small bright torch preferably one with halogen bulbs.
Very often records have been stored in lofts or cellars so can be affected by damp, dust or mould. I was once asked to view some records in an old Victorian property with a large cellar; there was around 10,000 items stacked up to the roof with lots of collectables, this would have been a great collection except for the fact nearly all of the sleeves had rotted or discoloured with mould or damp. Normally you can smell records that have been stored in a damp environment, in my experience these should be avoided with the smell never quite dispersing. Another important point to make is damp records carry mould and the pours can be inhaled.
If stored in open boxes for a long period vinyl records inevitably collect dust, slowly scratching there playing surface. When removing a record from a dusty sleeve there is usually a gritty sensation as the vinyl rubs against the residue. Although records can be cleaned, the build up of dirt over a long period generally leaves fine marks on the vinyl, usually effecting play.
If I could give one piece of advice to anybody planning on buying vinyl from source, I would suggest a thorough inspection of the vinyl, making sure you are in good light and able to concentrate. Finally try not to be swayed by collectable items in poor condition as these very often have little or no value.