If you’re sitting on a load of records you don’t use anymore, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question once or twice. Maybe you’re hoping you’ve had an absolute gem in your collection this whole time? Or that combined, your collection might sell so well that you’ll be set to retire there and then?
Well… Unfortunately, while there are some very valuable records in the wild, I wouldn’t bank on your collection making you a millionaire or anything. And more importantly if you’re trading with a dealer, such as ourselves, you won’t be met with a retail price! While any dealer will want to give you the best they can, they do still need to profit from their endeavours.
Let’s walk through some steps together that might help you figure out what your collection might be worth. Here are a few things you should look at when you’re trying to figure out their value:
I know it sounds obvious, but yes. You need to know exactly what you’re selling to know what it’s actually worth. You need to know the difference between a brand new vinyl record, and a second hand vinyl record, or how sometimes a second hand record is starkly more valuable than a mint, new one.
If you’re sitting on a good Madonna LP like True Blue, maybe Cliff Richard’s Love Songs? Mike Oldfield, Ommadawn? These records… Probably aren’t worth too much, I’m afraid. They’re excellent albums, but we do see them sold to us very frequently.
Unless you happen to be holding onto something like Ringo Starr’s own 0000001 branded The Beatles (White Album) or Elvis Presley’s first ever test recording as captured on ‘My Happiness’, I wouldn’t get your hopes up that you’re holding onto something worth starting your retirement plans over. Still though, I could recommend researching what you have. You might not have something worth millions, but popular artists tend to make popular albums! Even if it’s no first print, you might easily find a buyer if you’re selling a popular artist’s work. Queen, The Beatles, Iron Maiden, Prince…
Artists with a long legacy tend to hold more value, in normal cases. After all, what sounds more appealing to a collector? A recent, relevant artist that’s still putting out albums today, or an artist that stopped producing records years ago, thus their records are now in limited numbers?
That being said though, it is also worth noting the rarity of the record itself, regardless of artist. The older the record, the less of them that would have been produced due to the economy at the time. Or perhaps it’s an album that didn’t sell so well when it was originally released, so now in the future it’s become sought after and rare.
Vinyl records are no stranger to the concept of different releases and variants. More often than not, this tends to mean that a certain release was produced in limited quantities compared to its more common counterpart. This can be down to factors such as alternative covers, differing studios and labels on the disc, promotional copies, limited and foreign versions, unique sleeves, added inserts… Basically, anything that could make it different from other releases.
We’ve actually sold some pretty valuable variants ourselves! The first pressing of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled LP has the band’s name written in turquoise as opposed to the later issue having it in orange. This seemingly small difference makes a stark difference in value. The rare, first pressing, we have sold for £1500 in the past! Whereas the later issue, we’ve seen it go for about £40. That’s a massive difference!
Similarly, we have also sold a variant Black Sabbath album as compared to its more common counterpart. Black Sabbath’s self-titled album had a print featuring a Vertigo Swirl Label. This one label being on the disc can increase the value of the record from about £40 up to £150. These little differences are what identify different releases from each other, hence their leap in value should they have them.
Condition is a very important thing to factor into your record’s value. After all, if you were the one looking to buy, would you be very happy to purchase a scratched up record that barely plays anymore?
That being said, records in any condition can sell, we’ve seen it happen in the past. Still though, it’s good to follow the grading system to understand where your record’s value may be sitting.
Naturally, a record in Mint condition will sell higher than any of the others. However Excellent and Very Good are also decent conditions that collectors don’t really mind stocking up on. It’s when their conditions fall under this that it might become an issue. Excellent / Very Good will see that the record is a little scratched, but overall well looked after and still plays without much of an issue.
But Good and below may look a little worse in terms of scratches, to the point where the record may not play properly anymore. If someone were to buy a record from you, the chances are that they’d like to be able to play it at least a few times. There are only special and extremely rare cases where condition is usually pretty lenient for price.
There are several different approaches you could take when it comes to selling your records, once you understand what they might be worth. It’s down to your judgement as to what sort of avenue you might want to take when it comes to selling them, so here are a few suggestions:
The most common solution people fall onto, very often selling to dealers such as ourselves! What’s important to remember, as we mentioned earlier, dealers will NOT pay you retail price. You might not reach the price you were hoping for. Never out of malicious intent, but more because dealers need to make a profit at the end of the day. If you just want to quickly be rid of your collection then this is likely the best option, but if you’re actually looking to sell them for what they’re really worth, you might want to turn to other options. Also remember to factor in what you may be selling; you might have a lot of records, but if none of them are really worth very much that might come back to you in their buying price.
This will naturally require a lot of time and patience, especially depending on the size of your collection. But I would seriously recommend this if you think you’ve got some valuable stuff with you! Unfortunately in bulk, the valuables can get lost in the crowd. But if you sell them on their own, they’ll have no choice but to stand out and depending on all the criteria above, you may have an eager buyer. Don’t be put off by selling more common records on their own, either. Sure they’re not going to pay your rent, but they’re common for a reason. They sold well! People probably still want them today.
If you look at lists for “The Most Expensive Vinyl Records'', you’ll probably stumble across the massive prices that were realised in auction houses. Now I’m not saying you should expect your collection to sell for the thousands those ones did, but auction houses attract a lot of avid collectors. If the right set of people see and bid on your records, you never know how high they’ll go! But at the same time, you need to remember that some might not sell as well as you hoped, or at all! Such is the high risk and reward of using an auction house.
Factor everything we talked about into this question before you jump to an answer. You may have a rare record, but what if it’s pretty badly damaged? That record might be fairly common, but it’s in amazing condition! You’ve kept all the inserts in tact? Great! Extra value! So much goes into valuing a record on its own, let alone an entire collection.
If you want to make space and get rid of your collection fairly quickly, you’re probably best off selling with a dealer. Their prices may not be retail and it may be a little less than you were hoping for, but if you’re trying to be rid of your records quickly then this is probably the way to go.
If you want to sell them for what they’re really worth, auction houses and individual sales on sites like eBay are probably your best option. These are places where the right people are probably more likely to see them and offer you a pretty great deal.
Also, remember to research your records and what they’re worth! Some records might be worth more or less than you expect. For example, we ourselves sold a normal but Excellent condition copy of Queen’s Innuendo for around £100! Not a variant, just down to the album, the artist and the condition. Some records are naturally worth more than others and there are very useful websites that can help you find what yours might be worth.
It’s tricky business, selling off your collection. You might have years of memories of them but just can’t bear to watch them collect dust anymore, or perhaps they belonged to a late loved one and you’d like them to find a new home where they might find more use.
Whatever the case, you should definitely prep yourself as well as you can before you go through with it. Consider what options are best for you, and remember to research your collection’s worth!