Numbers: dating EPs

Numbers: Dating EPs

Little Richard & His Band EP ps

Little Richard And His Band, EP, London

This only works with Decca group pressings, and it is so clear and blindingly obvious that I’m amazed that virtually no dealer I’ve pointed it out to has sussed it.

Decca were mean on cover designs, and would push one sleeve design through numerous colour changes to establish a series of EPs. You can find this with valuable London-American EPs by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Everly Brothers, as well as Buddy Holly EPs on Coral. There were seven EPs with the title Little Richard & His Band, and six with the title Jerry Lee Lewis.

Jerry Lee Lewis EP no. 1 copy

Jerry Lee Lewis. EP

In both cases illustrated, EP “Number 1” there is no number on the sleeve. It was the only one when it was released, so didn’t need a number. The centre design will tell us something about value.

Little Richard EP tri copy

tri-centre, gold lettering, so an early pressing

A tri-centre pressing of Little Richard with gold lettering from 1957 is valued at £50 mint. Discogs highest price (which won’t be mint) is £40. A later silver lettered round centre is rated at £30. The Jerry Lee Lewis is from 1958, and rated at £40 with a tri-centre and £20 with a round centre. These are 2020 guide figures. The 2010 guide figures are £10 to £15 higher. This early rock era is not appreciating in value anymore.

Decca EP dates

Take a close look at the rear (as Little Richard would have done). The Little Richard has tiny letters below and right of the London logo. J.P. 57.3 which is pressed in March 1957, which was when the record was originally issued. The Jerry Lee Lewis EP has McN1.63 which is a January 1963 pressing when the record had already been out over four years. Why McN is month / year, but JP is year / month is a mystery. These EPs (justly) stayed in print for many years. Looking at a dozen EPs, London, Felsted, Decca and Coral, they either have J.P. or RS or McN, and it does not relate to label.

Rave On by Buddy Holly is McN9.60, or September 1960.

The Duke Wore Jeans by Tommy Steele is J.P. 58.4 or April 1958.

Decca may not be entirely reliable on sleeve dates. I have two copies of Rhythm & Blues With Chuck Berry. It’s a disc notable for its excruciating sleeve notes on “songs and folk music by Negro artists.”. 

These records, however, as most people know, are scarce because they were produced for sale ore or less exclusively to coloured areas and coloured people. The artists were often poorly paid- sometimes not paid at all – the recordings were often primitive and musical worth was sometimes superb, sometimes doubtful.

A gold on maroon tri-centre is listed at £150, which is the highest discogs sale price (and it has sold at £240 on eBay). A round centre is listed at £40. I have two copies, bought five years apart. The sleeve colour difference is easy to spot. The older one is darker, duller. The duller sleeve is labelled RS 5/56, for May 1956. The brighter one is 6/57 for June 1957. The trouble is the 1956 one has a round centre disc, the later 1957 has a silver tri-centre …probably right as gold was earlier. It could be someone found the first sleeve and disc separately, but I don’t know. The round centre disc is in excellent condition, its sleeve battered. The price differential is massive. The matching Bo Diddey disc is even rarer and more valuable.

Rhythm & Blues with Chuck Berry copy

Older sleeve, dated 5/56 May 1956

The point is that sleeves were printed at a different factory from where records were pressed. Old stock of sleeves from a cupboard somewhere could easily be used up with later pressings of the discs. The date I believe refers to the sleeve printing.