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About The Rare LP Price Guides

Please keep in mind that these records are NOT FOR SALE. This is just a list of albums that we know exist. They're listed here because they are recognized as the most valuable and desirable records of the genre.

Very important! The prices listed are for records in minty condition, lesser condition items should be reduced accordingly. Minty means the vinyl has full gloss without scuffs or scratches and the cover is clean and beautiful. Original mint copies of these records are rarely seen, hence the high values. Grading a record can be tricky because ambient light tends to mask the true condition. Several years back before eBay, there was an outfit from San Diego called "Good Rockin' Tonight," that ran a professional record auction with color brochures, advanced bidding techniques, and top end records. They graded vinyl under a 100 watt light in an otherwise dark room to get an honest assessment; this is the method I've adopted and recommend.

A blog discusses how arbitrary and changeable prices really are and why. I've presented lists of rare records and their prices, and they should be taken with a grain of salt. Having said that, these prices are a close snapshot of the current market. I've been collecting records for 40 years and working at Amoeba for a dozen. I priced these records using my best estimate of their worth, and then massaged them up or down after consulting Popsike, Collector's Frenzy, and the Goldmine and Osborne rare record guides. For those who haven't encountered yet, it's a site that has archived since 2003, eBay record auctions that had winning bids of $25 or more. Collector's Frenzy is a similar site. If you've only used the price guides as your barometer, you will probably disagree with some of my prices. Generally, Goldmine is high, Osborne low, and Popsike all over the map. However, there are some very hot genres, discussed below, and neither guide values them accurately. If you think a record was omitted, start by looking it up on Popsike to see what it's sold for recently. If you still think it should be listed, please let me know. I've only listed records that are currently valued at $75 and up, except for the C&W guide which starts at $50. BTW, if you asked any collector how many $50 and up country albums there are, they'd say 30 or 50...maybe 100 tops. Well, I was surprised to end up with close to 900 conservatively priced C&W albums, when all was said and done.

I'll be adding many more rare record lists by genre; I hope to list everything from rare punk to gospel and everything in between. For the musical styles I don't collect, I'll get help from other collectors/friends and the knowledgeable Amoeba staff. If any of you would like to contribute, please contact me first so there's no duplication.

Assume that the prices reflect original labels for all records unless noted (see LP Label Guide). You'll find that there are records on these lists that have eluded the price guides. Discovering obscure vinyl is always a thrill and it needn't be expensive. In the last few years, funk collectors have hunted down many forgotten '70s records that have since made it onto rare record lists and LP compilations. Many were found cheaply at thrift stores and garage sales.

In general, assume that the stereo version is worth more than the mono unless it's rechanneled stereo, or noted. There has been a groundswell of mono love in the last few years, but in the '60s when both options were offered, stereo was rarer. It was a new feature and most folks still had hi-fis that played mono. Rechanneled stereo or fake stereo, means that the record company ran the mono mix on one side and the same mono mix on the other side, delayed by a mili-second. This made the music sound fuller but also unnatural. Some of the British Invasion bands like the DC5, Kinks, Stones, Yardbirds, Beatles and Donovan are usually preferred in mono because the stereo was either rechanneled, or in the case of the Beatles, treated as an afterthought.

DJ labels are almost always worth more than stock labels because they're scarcer. The prevailing wisdom is that these were the first albums minted when the stampers were crisp, and hence the sound quality is superior. However, I'd make the case that since most collectible vinyl is now 20 to 60 years old, the main sound consideration is how the records were cared for.

Sealed copies will also command extra bucks. In the '70s and '80s some stores resealed albums to keep them clean (to give them the benefit of the doubt...). It's tricky to determine an original seal job; the shrink wrap has to be old and look like it truly belongs with the album.

"Deep groove" means that there is an indented circle about ½ inch in from the edge of the record label - it was primarily a feature of '50s albums. Collectors can often identify a first pressing by the deep groove. For example, Sun Records repressed their vinyl many times over the years, but if you have one with a deep groove (through SLP 1270), you've got an original. This is a good way to determine whether or not your Johnny Cash LP is a first pressing. Jazz collectors use this to date their Blue Note albums (along with the address on the label).

I'm not listing MFSL & other audiophile reissues even though many are quite pricey. It's a niche that I know little about.

The records on these lists are not necessarily the best albums, just the rarest and priciest. In other words, I'm not necessarily recommending these albums although many are musical gems as well as being hard to find.

I've chosen to chronicle LPs on these lists because I'm primarily an LP collector. I accumulate 45s and 78s but don't go after them with any kind of methodology. I appreciate and love them but my knowledge is not as broad in these fields.

Some Rare record prices have dropped in the last few years due to the economy, the aging of the first generation of LP record collectors and the general shift to MP3s. The notable exceptions to this trend are punk, '70s soul, '60s rock, jazz, world music, and OG hip hop. Try to sell a Little Richard album now and you'll be shocked at how little you get, compared to what the guides say that it's worth. I think that original R&R will come back because it's cool and great, but right now the younger collectors have too much else to buy first. Happy hunting!