The world of vinyl collectors is a world apart, straddling the boundless passion of some for records, and auction sales. Indeed, the price of collector vinyl records is subject to market. One evaluates the age of the copy of the album, its rarity, its condition and its demand compared to the supply before setting a price. The most experienced collectors are even on the lookout for the slightest errors in pressing, printing, or each story that makes the record unique. Prices can be exorbitant! The record for the most expensive album in the world is thus held by Wu Tang Clan, for a copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which sold for $2,400,000! However, the New York hip-hop crew cheated a bit: the album was pressed for only one copy, and the sales contract stipulated that the buyer couldn't make its contents public before 100 years!
Apart from this case, the prize goes to the first ever pressed copy of The Beatles' White Album. This one belonged to Ringo Starr, and found a buyer for the trifle of $800,000. Without going into these stratospheric sums, some more common albums may have a quite respectable value. Here is a selection of them, in order of increasing price.
10/ David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (1974) // $3,900
The original version of this album has been withdrawn from the market. Indeed, the canid/Bowie on the back cover showed his private parts! Despite the label's decision to rectify the situation, some employees kept a copy of the original.
9/ The Beatles - Please Please Me (1963) // $4,600
The very first Beatles album was released on March 22, 1963 in Great Britain. There were many presses, but the very first one was worth its weight in gold. It can be recognized by the golden letters on a black background on its sticker (the label on the record). The mono version can be bought for a few hundred euros, while the stereo version in good condition can fetch the $4,600!
8/ Bruce Springsteen - Spirit in the Night (1973) // $5,000 (estimate)
This single from The Boss is extremely rare. It would have been estimated by the collector John Marshallof of MoneyMusic.com at $5,000.
7/ Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen / No Feelings (1977) // $9,400
The first single of the mythical English punk band Sex Pistols was pressed in 1977 by A&M Records. Only 6 days after the production of 25,000 copies, the Sex Pistols were fired from the label for bad behaviour. The 25,000 copies were immediately destroyed, however, 9 have survived to this day. When will the tenth one be for sale?
6/ Hank Mobley - Blue Note 1568 (1957) // $11,000
There are only between 300 and 1,000 copies of this album, first pressed in 1957. A small detail makes these vinyl records rarer than the others from the mythical Blue Note label. During the first pressing, the factories ran out of stickers. Thus, on some of them, Blue Note's address is written "47 West 63rd New York 23" instead of "47 West 63rd NYC". An album with the right address sold for over $11,000 on eBay in 2015. The version with the wrong address should be worth even more!
5/ The Beatles - The White Album (1968) // more than $10,000
Please pay attention to the serial number on this album. A number starting with "A00000", present on the first 100 pressed copies, can make the value of the album rise exponentially, up to... did you read the introduction of the article?
4/ The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man / No Expectations (1968) // $18,000
This 1968 single, whose cover illustrates the police violence that took place during the Chicago riots the year it was released, saw its production stopped. The label considered the picture too controversial and decided to change it. There are less than 20 copies worldwide.
3/ Frank Wilson - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) (Demo, 1965) // $35,000
Pressed in 1965 on the label Soul, a subsidiary of Motown, this single is Wilson's only single for Motown. It is also a collector's item for vinyl lovers. Only 250 demos were produced in 45 RPM. However, Wilson later decided that he would devote himself to producing music rather than singing, and the founder of Motown, Berry Gordy, did not find the voice parts to his liking on the song. The demos were destroyed. Rumor has it that Berry Gordy is the owner of one of them.
2/ Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) // $35,000
Just before its release, Dylan and his label decided to replace 4 songs from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan with 4 more recent recordings. However, a worker at the pressing plant mistakenly used the 4 original recordings to make a number of albums that are still unknown today. Stereo and mono combined, there are less than forty copies of the album containing the error. A copy in good condition can be bought for more than $35,000.
1/ The Beatles - Yesterday and Today (1966) // $43,000
There's a story about this awful cover. The 4 boys in the wind were quite unhappy with the way their label treated the American editions of their albums. The result, at the very least gloomy and disturbing, is a splendid testimony to the caustic humor of the band. The Capitol label was quick to recall the 750,000 copies initially on sale to cover them with a more suitable photo. Only, the fans heard of this mistake and had fun steaming off the layer added afterwards. The original version can be sold for up to $43,000. A copy with the photo still glued on can also be quite expensive. Then, the price depends on the quality of the peel-off. But even a roughly detached copy can be exchanged for $100.