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Collectors Hand Guide To Collecting LPs


Christmas:  ++
 Very important to remember. Christmas records only get played around
the holidays. So when the only time they are being sought for is around
Dec. 1st up until New Years day. After that, the records go back into
storage. Dealers don't sell them all year round, so collectors don't
look for them for the first 11 months.
 The only reason why we have it listed as a 2 plus mark category, is
that it still is a wanted item. Just not much value for them. 

Religious:  ++
 Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, Petra, Mahalia Jackson, etc...
 There has always been a strong base for religious recordings.
Contemporary Christian music is selling very well right now. But the
oldies are going unwanted. Don't be confused with this category and
Southern Gospel which borders on a mix of religion and R&B. That can be
very collectable to a R&B collector. I get many requests for Southern
Bluesy Gospel. It is hard to find the real good stuff. So value for
them may be higher than I suspect.  Perhaps a sold " +++ " for them.
 Still, Older religious music sells to the older crowd and has very
little value to collectors. They just want the music. And pricing even
the scarce stuff too high is a big turn-off to these people. 


NOTE: I will be creating the 1st web site of it's kind to repost the
complete hand guide in the very near future. So stay tuned (or in

Classical:  ++++
 I will be honest right off the start. I know very little about
Classical music, but have gained some valuable information regarding
the collectable and market value of this category.
 Probably the biggest kept secret is the Classical LP. Some are worth
money. A lot of money!  When CD's first hit the market, Classical
collectors were the first people to jump out and buy them. Further
more, after playing them, they were the first to jump back to vinyl
LPs! They thought that when bought their first CD's, they would never
have to worry about pops skips and surface noise, which is a big turn
off to these music listeners. They were right, however they now had to
worry about tape hiss, cheap plastic cases, terrible artwork crammed
inside much smaller and often blurred because the original artwork was
recopied and shrunk down to size. The liner notes all but impossible
to read, being so small, was another turn-off.
 The true audiophile and sound buffs agree unanimously that the LP,
played on a fine stereo system, is the ultimate home listening
experience one can have. These people are now buying up the choice
titles that are in the market. These people have spent thousands on
their systems and think nothing of it to drop $25 or a few hundred on
choice LPs.
 So what are the choice LP titles? They are mainly those from 1958 up
to 1964. There was a combination of superior recording techniques,
genius sound engineers, expert mastering, and tremendously high quality
vinyl. All the money in the world could not reproduce these
masterpieces. The prices for NM to Mint recordings from this era, will
stand to increase in prices for years to come.

 We will start with the 2 most respected labels of the Classical music
field. RCA and Mercury. Here's what you should look for in these 2.

 In 1958 RCA started to release a series of records on their classical
label. RCA Red Seal, under the banner of RCA Living Stereo. They also
released Living Stereo in the Pop field, but it's the Classical Red
Seal which commands the top prices. These are recognized by the 1-1/2
inch black strip along the entire top of the front cover, with the
words "Living Stereo".  Slightly later releases have the same strip on
top but only are 1 inch in width. Later the strip disappeared but the
words still remained on top "Living Stereo".
 The original pressings of the first 5 or 6 years are those that are
commanding top prices today. The records that are referred to as the
most valuable are those known to collectors as the "Shaded Dogs". This
term comes from the label on the record itself. The original pressings
of these records have the famous dog listening to his masters voice. A
trade symbol for RCA for many years. The original Red Seal label was a
dark red, but an even darker red, shaded area appears behind the dog
and the phonograph on the label. Some of these titles are more rare
than others, yet even the most common NM items sell for $10 to $15.
 Most sell for $20 and up. Some will command prices from $100 up to
even $500! But remember, the record has to be in superb condition! No
surface noise is allowed! They record must be at least Excellent to NM
to get these prices. Anything less will only gain a very tiny fraction
of the market price.
 The Mono copies will only get 10% of these prices for the same issues.
So one must remember that it is the true "Living Stereo" copies these
collectors seek. Prior to 1958, Stereo recordings were taped. As soon
as early 1957. However no stereo was issued until 1958. The ones that
may have been early stereo experimentation can only be the most wanted,
since they precame the originals that were issued during 1958.  In
order to get this information, one may not be able to do so very easily.
Thus is a guess at times, as to which stereo issues were in fact
recorded in 1957. Perhaps early numbers are the best way to determine
this, but some may have came in later numbered issues. Remember, Stereo
was experimental in 1957 and also in 1958. But what we get from them,
technically speaking, are some of the best recordings ever produced in
analog history!
 To get the value of classical one would must consult the "Canfield
Guide to Classical Recordings" to determine which ones are worth the
most. The guide is very expensive and as of this writing, may even be
out of print. Ask around and see who has a copy. 
 Later, RCA changed the Red Seal label. The shaded dog and deep red
were gone.  A bright red label replaced the deep red labels and a white
dog without the shaded area. These are referred to as the "White Dog's".
They don't have as much value but still can command good prices. The
quality of the pressings was still good at this time. Then finally they
dropped the dog logo all together from the label. By then the RCA
pressings were just ordinary and these records have little value what
so ever. Always check the label first before going hog wild when you
see a cover that says "Living Stereo". Many covers used the same
artwork and strip as the originals. Many titles stayed in print for
years and only the labels changed. By the 70s it all became different
and Classical from this time period, with the introduction of Dynaflex
vinyl, is all but unwanted.
 Red seal Dynaflex vinyl was reported as being superior vinyl, when in
fact, a lesser grade of a product was produced. These LP's will seldom
lay flat and they don't sound better unless you believe what you read
on the back cover, and not listen with your own 2 ears. 

 Equally as valuable are these Mercury recordings. They were available
in mono or stereo but to have any value, they must be in stereo. They
are easily recognized by the 1-1/2 inch wide strip on top front of the
cover with the word "STEREO" in big letters. And the word "Hi-Fi" in
small letters super-imposed over the letter T in Stereo. Also the words
"Mercury Living Presence" are found in a small banner at a diagonal on
the right side of the cover. The earliest and most desirable records
have a 3 inch wide color picture running the entire side of the back of
the cover. Some of the later releases have all the logos and slogans in
smaller print but they still are collectable.
 The most determining factor for the value of the records are the
labels. Those that have dark maroon are the best. However, If you see
the words, "Vendor: Mercury Record Corporation", you have a slightly
later pressing. If the label is a lighter shade of maroon, it is also
a later pressing. And if it's a orange label, it's even a much later
pressing. Still they all have value, with some titles being worth as
more than $100. Once again you need the Canfield guide to determine
which are the ones to have.

 This is a brief rundown on other classical labels of importance

 A major label with hundreds of releases, but inconsistent pressings
have made them oddly enough, not very collectable.

 A division of Deutsche Grammophon that specialized in early music.
Limited demand for them as well.

 This is a Swedish label with high sound quality yet only carry
moderate value among collectors.

 Contains some very interesting releases along with some exciting
covers. Only a small percent of them have any real value.

 A fine British label and all titles have some value.

 One of the largest with many major artists, but huge pressings and
ordinary vinyl quality have made the majority of  the titles by them,
less than valuable.

 Some very unusual repertoire has made this label somewhat valuable. 

 A German label that has nice pressings but most titles are very common.

 A very interesting and very hot label. Many titles sell at medium to
high prices. Not many were imported into the United states, so they
will be scarce here (the US).

 A French label which has never really caught on here in the US might
be "a sleeper" as known in the collectors market, as a label that is
virtually unknown but with a little circulation, can open up the flood
gates. Don't hold your breathe though. 

 Another sleeper. A budget label that specialized in Historic reissues.
Getting harder to find, but has only moderate value today.

 Like RCA and Mercury, their 1958-64 releases can be very valuable.
Look for Stereo releases that collectors call "Bluebacks" because the
back of the cover was a light shade of blue.

 This was a mail order company that licensed recordings from other
major labels and offered the reissue with cheap boring, black and white
covers. Little demand, if any.

 Another budget label with strange releases. Very common and not a
great deal of interest with these.

 A truly high quality Dutch label. They had some of the most consistent
quality pressings in recording history. Most titles are not worth much,
but will sell.

 Since this label was known more for Folk recordings, the classical
recordings may be of some interest. Not that many titles, but is now
getting some attention.

 Another budget label that sells so-so.  However the famed VOX-BOX,
boxed sets will sell, but only for moderate prices.

 A cheap label tried to humor us with their funky artwork with
classical music. Did not work then, but may have some appeal if only
for the covers.

 The one thing nobody tells anyone about, is how to get the most for
your classical collectibles. Too many people will sell some quality
items and not get what they are truly worth in the global market. The
hardest collector to bring out of the woodworks are the classical
collector. The places to advertise are listed below.

 P.O. Box 720
 Tenafly, NJ 07670
 $6.00 per issue / $34 for 6 issues

 P.O. Box 360
 Sea Cliff, NY 11579
 $7.50 per issue / $4595 for 8 issues

 P.O. Box 469027
 Escondido, CA 92046
 $6.95 per issue / $19.95 for 12 issues

 These publications will be more useful than anything that I can tell
you here. So please do inquire with them. (Some prices may have changed,
so write and find out for sure, before sending an ad with payment).


There are 3 types of soundtrack recordings.
 Movie Soundtracks
 TV Soundtracks
 Original Cast Recordings

Movie Soundtracks:  +++1/2
 This is a strong category but you will note that not all Movie
Soundtracks are worth big dollars. With collectors of Soundtracks,
these people can be fanatical at times. There are a lot of them around,
even though you would think there are only a handful.
 A lot of popular movies sold millions of soundtracks and they are as
common as dirt. Many even were reissued in the 70s and early 80s.
Again, practically worthless. There were plenty that flopped and to
this day can be found in the 99 cent bins in stores throughout the
country (sealed). These are the 70s and 80s dive Teen-age movies,
such as Flashdance and Dirty Dancing. Not to mention those about High
Schools and frat parties. These are not great for investing in.
 What we will try to do is help weed out the good from the bad. The
ones to go with, more than those that we already know are common.
 Those that are common are mostly from the 70s and 80s. Even some
from the 60s, but the ones that proclaim across the cover as
"Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" and have 10 songs by 10 different
artists, are NOT soundtracks really at all. They are no different than
a buying a compilation LP from K-tel. Both having about the same value
in the market. Practically none....
 Most soundtrack collectors build their collections around the
composers. So with that in mind, here are a few that are
worthy composers to be looking for..
Malcolm Arnold      Bonislau Kaper              Leonard Rosenman
John Barry          Erich Wolfgang Korngold     Nino Rota
Elmer Bernstein     Ennio Morricone             Miklos Rozsca
George Delure       Mario Nascimbene            Max Steiner
Hugo Friedhofer     Alfre Newman                Dimitri Tiomkin
Jerry Goldsmith     Alex North                  Franz Waxman
Bernard Hermann     Andre Previn                Victor Young
Maurice Jarre       David Raskin

 These composers did what are known as Orchestral Scores. Which are
different than the pop scores that we mentioned above.
 Some people will collect soundtracks by different genres of movies.
Such as Horror, Sc-Fi, Spy, African Jungle Movies, Fictional thrillers,
Westerns, etc... They will want all John Wayne, all Clint Eastwood or
all Jack Nicholson movies when they collect based on who the favorite
actor is. Especially if the actor is featured on the cover such as
almost all of Elvis's did. Artwork is probably just as important to the
soundtrack listener as any other type of collector. Often it is the
covers themselves, and not the music which they seek.

 One of the best labels to look for obscure titles on Varese Sarabande.
There are many movies that were so obscure, and the studios did not
wish to create a release. But this label did, and they are very scarce.
A lot of Sci-fi and Horror collectors seek these titles and will snap
them up when ever they can. Beware however, that this label has done
a lot of reissuing, and the reissues, although just as scarce, are not
worth as much as the originals.
 There are some soundtracks that were foreign release only and are also
very scarce. Some soundtracks are considered unauthorized and were not
suppose to be released. They look legit but were basically stolen from 
the private owner of the material. Not bootleg or counterfeits. But
like those types of releases, royalties were not paid to the artist or
composers. Japan has been noted for reissues and unauthorized releases
for years. No laws in their country prevent this from happening.

TV Soundtracks:  ++1/2
 There has not been many released over the last few years, but those
from the 60s and 70s do have some value.  Look for those that were from
TV series and not TV specials, to have more value. Cartoon TV
soundtracks are collectable and so are those that were based around
multiple episodes. But the mini series drama's and Soap Soundtracks are
not really worth much at all. Overall, very few are collectable. Those
that are, will not make you rich. There is a small amount of collectors
for these. Those that do pay top dollar, won't be easy to find. A TV
Soundtrack collector will most likely not be the same person who
collects Movie Soundtracks.

Original Cast Recordings  +++
 This actually falls into 2 categories by itself. The very common
titles (those that were from major Broadway hits) and those that are
obscure and are mostly forgotten.
 Believe it or not, the following titles are worthless, and I would
suspect that every house in the US has some or most of these titles
hidden away in the closet or attic. Among the worst titles to even have
laying around are as listed:

Annie                           Hello Dolly
Annie Get Your Get Your Gun     King And I
Belles Are Ringing              Kiss Me Kate
Brigadoon                       Mame
Bye Bye Birdie                  Man Of La Mancha
Cabaret                         Oklahoma
Camelot                         Oliver
Can Can                         Paint Your Wagon
A Chorus Line                   Pajama Game
Fiddler On The Roof             Sound Of Music
Damn Yankees                    South Pacific
Funny Girl                      Sweet Charity
Flower Drum Song                West Side Story
Guys And Dolls

Do I need to go on? Think not... What do all these titles have in
common? The keyword is "Common". They sold in the millions and are
found so easily that there is no longer a real market for them. Thrift
stores and Flea Markets are starting to turn them down. No dealer in
the world would pay you to get them. They are as we said earlier
"Common as dirt".  
 So what are some of collectable titles worth money? Here is a small
picking for you to sample.

All American              House Of Flowers     Maggie Flynn
The Apple Tree            I Had A Ball         Mr. Wonderful
Bajour                    Jamaica              Redhead
Baker Street              Kean                 Skyscraper
Ben Franklin In Paris     Kwamina              Take Me Along
Destry Rides Again        Let It Ride          Tenderloin
Goldilocks                Little Me            What Makes Sammy Run?

 Just to name a few, there plenty more... These are the more obscure
titles and thus not really a bunch of them are around. They will
command the most, value wise. There are truly hundreds of rare original
cast LP's that were made. But since we are talking collectable, those
that are less than popular from when they were originally released, are
the most desired and most valuable today. If you have something you
never heard of, it may have REAL value. 

 To get an idea of what is valuable, you can consult Jerry Osborne's
"Guide to Collecting Soundtracks and Original Cast Recordings". It has
10,000 titles listed and the latest edition is due out very soon. Keep
in mind. Some of the titles we mentioned as worthless, are priced in
this guide around $10-$20. Don't be fooled by these prices. They just
don't hold water.

Authored by W.T. Toms, Tim at