Names, Scribble and Numbers
This page has the following sub-sections:
- Sticky Stuff
- Snapshot 1962
- When Numbers Get Serious
- Numbers: Dating EPs
A mint copy of Louie Louie by The Kingsmen is £30 in Rare Record Guide. I’ve seen lots of copies at £20 plus. It holds a price consistently. This copy plays very well, certainly well enough for Louie Louie where the odd bit of crackle is easily absorbed.
The problem’s not the sleeve, with the name and address and title, and perhaps the addition of ‘pills’, ‘mod’ and ‘modernist’ adds a bit of ambience. The sleeve can be switched. Kevin added stuff to the centre, his name, and ‘mod’ and thought it amusing to write B&B Series (Bed & Breakfast?) where other Pye International records of this vintage have R&B Series. This copy was just one pound, and that’s from a record store, not a charity shop. The same store had an unadorned one on the wall at £15.
Many old 45s have the owners’ names written on them. Many have the titles, or the artist’s name (Cliff, Elvis, Buddy, Benny, Bobby, Billy, Willy, Marty, Micky, Ricky, Nicky, Dicky, Danny, Donny, Lonnie, Larry, Eddie, Freddie, Frankie, Harry, Gary, Jerry, Jackie, Johnny, Ronnie, Jimmy). Numbers are common … either the chronological sequence of someone’s collection, or the record catalogue number.
DJ’s liked to write notes like “Twist,” “Smooch” or “Hully Gully” on centre labels, or in the case of 1972’s version of Heat Wave by Pacific, Gas & Electric, “danceable but frantic.”
The other DJ sin was the DJ blob, a circle of totally irremovable paint on the centre, hampering pilfering, and usually colour-coded for record type.
Do these scribbles detract from the value? Scribble means original scribble, not a price written on by a secondhand dealer. One shop I know is a total mess. You clamber over piles of books to get to the boxes of records, banging your head on a 1962 Melody Maker newspaper suspended from the ceiling in a plastic bag (How much? £30 to you). The records are unsorted, filthy and the sleeves are torn. I looked through and chose a couple of EPs for the covers and a couple of very tatty singles, which had centre designs I wanted to scan.
‘I don’t know. They belong to another fella. I’ll have to ask him.’
‘You mean you want to look them up in the book?’
‘Yes. Come back tomorrow.’
When I returned, the centres had £8 and £5 scrawled across the whole label (these were the mint prices in Rare Record Guide) in indelible thick marker pen. The EPs had the marker pen smack centre on the picture sleeves.
Others do it with pencil. Most use tiny stickers that inevitably lift the paper below. The best way of doing it is pencil on the inside of the sleeve.
The most valuable soul single, Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) was sold for £25,742 in 2009 on Motown’s Soul label. It was bought by soul specialist John Manship, and sold on in August 2020 for £100,000. 400% in ten years. That copy has a rubber stamp and handwriting on it. The only other known copy has an autographed greeting from Frank Wilson, which is probably a plus. This is an exception. Mind you, if there’s a third copy with no autograph it might be worth even more. That’s the one Berry Gordy is rumoured to own. Frank Wilson was a Motown producer, and Berry Gordy didn’t like his vocal, and wanted him to focus on production. Originally, 250 demos were pressed, and destroyed. It became a Northern Soul favourite. Don’t get excited if you see one … it was reissued in 1979 with a Tamla-Motown label, and again in 2004 with a facsimile label. The 1979 one is still rated at £30 in mint condition.
Autographs should add value, but with records they don’t have the premium attached to signed first edition books (unless the signature is The Beatles or Elvis).
SEE: Autographs section
Names detract a little. Numbers and titles are a good sign. They indicate a past owner who tried to match singles to sleeves and who kept them in some kind of order … they indicate pride in a collection and greater care.
If you look at the top corner, most company sleeve designs had a white rectangular box. Usually the retailer wrote the record catalogue number on it for filing. This shows that the sleeve was sold with that number disc. Various collector guides suggest that ANY writing detracts from value. I disagree.
Very few went as far as E.H. Maxwell of Woking (The Musicians Mecca) in putting a reference sticker irrevocably on the sleeve, obscuring the company logo as on Wake Up Little Susie. Note the 45-HL 8493. They would have filed records by label, and in numerical sequence within each label. In those days, there were only a dozen or so significant labels, then a section for “other”.
Record shops kept their stock numerically and therefore chronologically rather than alphabetically. I knew a girl whose dad owned a tiny record shop.
‘What are you listening to, Sonny?’ he’d ask with forced politeness, possibly hoping to research the next teen trend.
‘I quite like Rag Doll by The Four Seasons.’
‘Oh, yes,’ he’d reply, ‘BF1347. Very nice.’
There were boxes on each side in many sleeve designs. Mostly people used the other box to number their records in order of purchase. Those with neat writing got the title in the white rectangular space. I once picked up a Parlophone sleeve (which had been switched onto a Beatles single) with Jennifer Eccles neatly written in the box. ‘Sorry, it’s got someone’s name on it’, said the shop owner, who can’t have been a Hollies fan.
The copy of The Bird’s The Word by The Rivingtons is enhanced by the neat dealer applied number showing it’s the original sleeve. The sleeve and record are in excellent condition too.
As for Tears Began To Fall by The Mothers of Invention, the original dealer put a large sticker and number which is irritating, but I think, OK. The pencilled £30 is a later addition, and what the secondhand dealer thought it was worth (a mint copy lists at £40).
Judging by secondhand sleeves, far more girls than boys realized the box was the place for this, and bothered to write their names on. A pile of sixties records in a shop has the names of a sixties girls’ school: Cheryl, Sue, Elaine, Jenny, Sandra and Hazel; then as you leaf through glam rock the names shift to Claire, Debbie, Mandy,Tracy and Sharon. Another way of looking at it is that the boys still have all their 60s records safely in a box next to one full of Dinky toys in the attic, or their 70s and 80s singles next to a box full of Star Wars figurines.
A retailer number in the box, matching the record inside the sleeve, enhances value. It indicates that record and sleeve have always lived together. It doesn’t prove it, because astute collectors will note the number written on good quality “wrong sleeves” they acquire and see if they already have that record.
All the numbered examples came in the same record storage box (I bought the box full), and every record was correctly matched to its sleeve. Each had the name Rita on it, and the writing gets neater as the collection moves from 1959 to the mid-sixties.
Rita lost her affection for green Bic biro around 1963, or maybe it just ran out. Lovely Rita went from a dozen singles a year to one or two by the late sixties, and they’re all as near mint as you’ll find. Rita liked The Crystals and her copies of He’s A Rebel and Then He Kissed Me are the only copies of these common singles I’ve ever seen in virtually mint condition including original sleeves. Rita didn’t really go for sixties beat groups (one Searchers single, and one Herman’s Hermits); nor did she buy soul or psychedelia, and the last record in the box was Bridge Over Troubled Water.
This copy of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me is near mint vinyl. Well looked-after. A vast majority of collectors, I believe, would prefer to place it in an unadorned Phhilips company sleeve. Isn’t there a certain charm in Josephine’s pride and pleasure in her new single?
Another girls’ habit was cutting out pictures of stars from NME or Disc and sticking them on sleeves, desperate to create picture sleeves. They turn up frequently. They always have girls’ names written in the centre.
Boys sometimes used transfers, as on Deep Purple’s Black Night illustrated.
The gender differentiation might explain why most old guitar instrumental group records are in rough condition, while teen idols (Bobby Vee etc) are usually in better condition.
The Rockabilly classic, Rockin’ Red Wing by Sammy Masters, was not an expected Warner Bros. release, but this copy was originally bought via the Carl Perkins International Club. Shame about the writing in the middle, but I’d leave it in this rubber-stamped sleeve. It adds interest.
Dedications where selections from the lyric are written on the sleeve ( See Time After Time, xxx Julie) are common with both male and female names. They detract from value, but what’s wrong with a little romance?
Then there can be poignancy in a date. I hope C. Hamerton had a happy Christmas in 1964. She (or he) had waited six months from the film’s release to get the LP.
Radio Stations sometimes added a large sticker where dates were written when the record was removed from the library, as do public lending library discs. Classical buffs in the 50s and 60s sometimes had another habit, marking each time they played the disc. This may date back to the days of 78s and needles.
Then there’s the home made sleeve.
Terry certainly wanted to keep tabs on his 1964 copy of Georgie Fame’s Do-Re-Mi, but at least he had the sense to deface the B-side, Green Onions with the Day-Glo label.
I neversaw Terry’s stickers on sale, and fortunately they’re rare. A mint copy of this early Fame release would be around £18. This one, very good to excellent vinyl, crumpled (but easily replaceable) sleeve, cost me £2.
There’s a short story, if not a novel in this one. Leonard Cohen back in 1967 was most heard in bedsits and Women’s halls of residence in teacher training colleges and universities. The B-side has ‘Ruth Diggle’ inscribed on it. Look at the A side and how ferociously Ms Diggle’s name has been crossed out. Then ‘Tricia’ has written her name on instead. What battles and arguments, theft and counter-theft does this scribble reveal? It reduced a £7 mint single to 50p in otherwise excellent condition though.