Now if we had a £1 for every time someone asked this question we’d by Millionaires Rodney.
It’s a tricky question with plenty of nuance and a great deal of debate, so really, how much are Vintage Vinyl Records worth? Well let’s have a go at unpacking this subject and provide some guidance, bear in mind, this is an absolute mine field and the market is forever changing, there are though some constants and good points of reference we can discuss.
A good place to start is how much value does anything carry and the answer is very much – “how much is someone prepared to pay?”. In many respects what someone is willing to pay is the kernel of valuation. When you’re considering value, what someone is wiling to pay will be influenced by a number of factors you should consider, lets look at some of them:
How Rare is The Vintage Vinyl Record you Have?
This can be discerned quite quickly and at a high level with some internet searches. Type in the catalogue number and name of the record and you’ll get a view of how many there are for sale. If the search engines and marketplaces are awash with copies you’ll easily establish a going rate for what you have.
Do be careful though and make sure your copy exactly matches what is being sold, that includes checking the matrix number of your record. If you don’t know what this is, it is the scratched number you’ll find etched into the runout section of your record. You find this on the inside edge of the record, the component of the record that doesn’t hold any music. Please see the image below. They can sometimes be difficult to see, so look carefully.
The matrix number will define the exact edition you have of the record and this will help determine its value. First editions are normally worth the most and reissues are worth less, generally speaking.
If you have something that isn’t on search engines and marketplaces you could be onto something rare. A deeper dig will be required if this happens. A great source online for values is a site called Popsike.com. Popsike have a huge repository of record values drawn from 20 million auctions. It really is a mine of data, you’ll find it useful if you have a particularly unusual or rare record.
Another great source for valuations is a book called the Rare Record Price Guide. This publication is released and updated annually and features prices for rare and collectible releases.
What Condition is the Vintage Vinyl in you are Looking to Value?
This can be a subjective area but there is an industry standard for used records which does provide a very useful guide for grading your records.
Like anything used, the better the condition it’s in the higher the value it will carry. This is particularly important with Vinyl. Let’s face it, Vinyl is imperfect, and even versions that were factory fresh can sometimes be troublesome souls. That is part of the fascination for many, its imperfections and frailties are what many love, vinyl is almost organic, its so alive. The quality of your vinyl will though rank very highly on most collectors reasons for buying and valuing an item. If you have a mint record and a mint sleeve you’re well on your way to a winner. And when I say mint, I really mean it. Mint to a collector will be absolutely perfect in every way. Think factory fresh and embalmed in a perpetual state of newness to achieve Mint status. Get this grading wrong or try and game the system and you’ll soon fall out of favour with a buyer.
Essentially records that are scratch free with covers that look like fresh magazines will always carry a premium. Put yourself in the perspective of a collector. Most collectors are trying to attain a state of perfection in their collection and level of mint will be preeminent in their desire to pay more for a record, even if that record is not that rare. A mint one could be a rare one.
Here is a link to a generally accepted grading system for vinyl records for further reference.
What Vinyl Records Could be Considered Vintage Vinyl Records?
The answer to this one is quite easy, any record has a vintage that isn’t brand new. Clearly age is a factor in determining how vintage a record is and the older one is the more vintage qudos your vinyl is likely to carry. But, when talking vintage many people have different views, for some, vintage is the the 1950s and artists like Julie London or Cliff Richard, with those iconic covers that scream Hollywood and fifties chic.
For others Vintage is far newer, nineties music now has a huge vintage following with groups like De La Soul and Soul II Soul carrying huge values and demand even given their relative recent history in musical terms.
Generally age is a factor in reinforcing the vintage nature of your vinyl and age will drive up the price and likely the rarity, especially if your vintage vinyl is in a top notch state.
What Niche Does Your Vintage Vinyl Sit in?
Music is massive and the niches are many and varied. There are even records out there with nothing but screaming rabbits on, I’m not joking, it’s a niche.
These niches will help determine and drive the value of your vinyl, it is a factor but not the ultimate arbiter. This couples well with the artists you have. The go to artists we think of are people like Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. All these artists work carry high values and are well collected. Never though be dismissive of lesser known artists, artists you haven’t heard of. Often the most obscure artists and genres are worth the most. If you have something weird and a bit odd hanging around in your record collection, don’t throw it away. Weird is almost certainly collectible for someone, somewhere.
Generally Rock and Pop sit at the top of the collector tree followed by Jazz and Classical niches. Don’t though let this put you off if all you have is Classical music. There is a collector out there for every record and niche.
Well there folks is a very high level set of guide rails to help you determine the value of your vintage vinyl records. It is truly a massive area and laden with pitfalls and traps. Above all be careful and do your research thoroughly. Always remember what you think is worth a fortune could ultimately be worth very little and what you think is junk could be worth a fortune. Be careful when trying to price your items and consider that markets constantly shift.
For more Record History articles try these: History of the LP Record, UK Capitol 45 Record Labels and Sleeves Archive From 1953 to 1983, 45 Record Guide – Size, Value, Prices, Worth and History of 45 Records, What Vintage Vinyl Records Are Worth Money? or Collectors Guide To Building a Vinyl Record Collection.
If you’d like to buy some 45’s checkout our 45 Record Collection here.
All the best.