Why it’s hard to make rules about grading.
She Loves You – The Beatles
This copy of She Loves You is one I’d dare to call mint. It has excellent provenance, coming from the estate of someone who owned a record store and squirrelled away certain iconic new releases, including all The Beatles, but only ever played his Shadows collection. All the Beatles singles were together. I’m told that this is unplayed (he loathed them but thought them an investment) and very close examination indicates that’s true. It has writing … the catalogue number which shops applied as they took records out of the delivery box. The catalogue number on the sleeve is right. The slight curves on the sleeve are where the disc has impressed itself on the paper over the years, but it was stored in a wooden case in the dark. Mint should mean ‘as if unplayed’ but sleeves came fresh out of the shop as mildly indented with the record’s shape, as on this one.
This is my own copy. It has a darker sleeve, and I bought it on the day of release, so it might even be an earlier pressing. I wrote the title, and the number and if you look hard, I wrote the number on the centre too. It was much played, but very carefully looked after. However, ‘much played’ was on a Dansette. I’d say it was at least Very Good.
She Loves You is one of the best-selling records of all time, with sales of 1,800,000 in this edition. It was the UK’s all-time best seller between 1963 and 1978. It is still the eighth best-selling British single ever. So naturally it only lists at £10 mint in Rare Record Price Guide. It’s easy to find at £2 to £5 in “excellent” condition.
Discogs has 229 on sale.
What about those on sale? There is one from Germany declaring baldly and boldy “mint” at £71. Near mint copies range up to £49, with several in the £20 range. A couple don’t even have Parlophone sleeves.
You’ll go a long way to find one as good as the one at the top. Of course, we don’t know condition on Discogs.
I’ll assuage vulgar curiosity. I scanned it. The shop phoned an avid Beatles collector and got £25 for it.
Sailor Boy – The Chiffons
The copy of Sailor Boy by The Chiffons shows the typical markings of storage in wire racks. There are indents at the base, a small tear from removing it from the rack, and small brown marks on the bottom right, which come from proximity to the metal. On the upside, it has been labelled at the time of purchase, and the centre label is unmarked. This disc is in the Rare Record Guide 2022 at £20 mint. In strong contrast, Manship’s Rare Soul Price Guide rates it at £10, or £15 as a demo. Manship rates demos higher because he’s in a DJ market. I wouldn’t rate Stateside demos as any more interesting than the base discs. Manship and Rare Record Guide are usually far closer than this discrepancy. It may be subjective appraisal of The Chiffons. It is a Jerry Goffin- Russ Titleman composition. Girl groups are collectable.
The disc shows the slight abrasions of putting it in and out of sleeves, but has no crackle or hiss. There’s no distortion and no scratches, so the disc is probably excellent. Excellent allows for “slight wear and/or creasing of the packaging.” The sleeve is below very good, but the wear is pretty normal.
A seller looking for the full Rare Record Guide £20 for excellent would probably have a better 1964 Stateside sleeve, which has arrived on something more common (like The Supremes’ Baby Love or a Gene Pitney record), and in that case would swop it. Others would put it in a crisp white sleeve, conscious that the centre label is excellent. I prefer the proof that it always lived in this labelled Stateside sleeve, but I’d swop it too if I found a cheap Gene Pitney of the same year with a pristine single Stateside logo sleeve. There are plenty about. A personal opinion is that Rare Record Guide is optimistic, and Manship pessimistic. I reckon £15 as reasonable, and £10 to £12 as more realistic.
I asked a couple of dealers well outside the big cities and they reckoned £5 to £7 as fair for their area / customer base. Don’t forget that at record fairs a 10% to 15% discount is often given before the customer even asks.
Five Yardbirds EP – The Yardbirds
An exciting find! In Rare Record Price Guide 2022 a mint copy rates at £100. Discogs highest price is £65.99. Median is £35. On sale? £15 to £70 … but none on sale are above ‘very good.’ Take a look at the disc, just before 3 o’clock. I tried hard to scan it, and it doesn’t show much, but you might see a slight pale blur. It’s a visible lump in the vinyl. The other side is a clear dent in the vinyl. A friend’s shop had bought it in, and he was excited at the value. I looked at the vinyl and found the lump instantly. We both looked at it. ‘It might just play through …’ he said hopefully. We tried it. It doesn’t. It’s a shame as until it gets to the lump, it’s very good. Barely any hiss. Then there’s a background thump, then it sticks. Um, you can play either side of it. Category? Shiny disc, decent sleeve, but CF (Completely fucked.) It was probably a pressing error. There are no burn marks. So it’s category Bad. £2.50 on the Ready Reckoner. The seller was disappointed. I said I could use the sleeve in the Columbia label section. He just gave it to me, preferring not to see it again. Of course one day I might find a good copy in a tattered sleeve and … I might also win the National Lottery.
The Modern World – The Jam
The Jam’s original singles are not particularly valuable; most are £5 mint in original 1977 to 1978 picture sleeves, less in the 1980 reissue set. Strong images, and Paul Weller’s burgeoning reputation make me guess that they’ll go up in value rather than down. Maybe not – I wrote that a few years ago, and it’s still £5 in “the book.”
New Wave singles (or Mod if you prefer) tend to be in battered sleeves. The Modern World was in an unusual box of about 100 discs just bought in at the record shop. Every single was in a plastic lined card sleeve, and all the sleeves were kept separately in paper bags at the end of the box. So there is no impression of the singles on the card sleeves, something inevitable in any record storage system, the sleeves were all pristine, and the records spotless and unmarked. Every single by The Jam was in the box, and perhaps an odd juxtaposition, there were about ten Philadelphia International soul singles, with again the paper sleeves kept separate. This was a January 2013 find, proving that mint, or very near mint, could still be found.
634-5789 – Ry Cooder
None of Little Feat’s very rare British singles get in The Rare Record Guide. They’re thought of as an album band. If I had one, I’d ask at least a tenner for it, and hope to get it.
Ry Cooder is also an album artist. Ry Cooder’s classic version of 634-5789 doesn’t make the grade either. But it was one of the very first digital recordings (two years before CD) so vinyl isn’t its natural medium. It’s also stereo so doesn’t have that Mono ‘Whoomph!’ added pleasure. Collectors will have the LP. Hard to sell. I think I paid £2 for it.
Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys – The Equals
The Equals’ Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys is listed in Rare Record Guide at £5 in the 2022 edition, mint and there’s no mention of a “p/s” for picture sleeve. But there is one. It’s die cut, spectacular and extremely rare, and the cheapest I’ve seen it on sale at is £12. This copy is at the better end of Very Good.
Most copies that turn up are in the plain black sleeve that President generally used, or in the plain white ones they used when they ran out. 45 Cat have this sleeve too (they don’t value).
Ordinary Man – Christy Moore
This one really is mint. 100% mint in the plain sleeve it was issued in. It came from a 2012 Reading Record Fair where one stall had dozens of unplayed, unsold Demon, Edsel and F-Beat records. The early indie record shops in the 1970s could buy mint, unsold stock as record shops closed. Now it’s rare, but it still happens. I suspect these were dumped by Demon rather than a record shop. There were multiple copies of all the records on the stall, and only from the Demon group. They were described as ‘New’ rather than mint at the fair. OK, no Christy Moore singles are listed in Rare Record Price Guide 2022. It’s a fiver online.
The downside is if you find a mint box of twenty copies of an ultra- rare single, the value has just shot down. They’re no longer rare. You’d have to drip feed them on eBay very, very slowly, one at a time.
See Oak under Labels.