What goes around comes around, and we don’t just mean records on a turntable. Audiophiles swear by the sound quality of vinyl over CDs, MP3s, and other files, and now younger generations are starting to see the light. Vinyl sales continue to increase each year as CD sales drop, which means that more and more young people are borrowing albums from their parents or buying their own, while those who grew up with them are perhaps dusting off their cherished collections.
New records are typically more expensive than other formats, but fans would argue that the listening experience and ability to hold the music in your hands is worth the premium. There is also a culture of collecting that comes with switching to vinyl that could pay off big time, if you know what you have or what to look for. First pressings by big acts like The Beatles or Bruce Springsteen, and finds like misprints and pressings with alternate covers, can greatly increase the value of vinyl if the copies are kept in pristine condition. Before you dig through those crates to listen to your favorite throwback LP or 45-RPM single, make sure that what you’re holding isn’t worth a full semester of college. Here are some records that you may have (or used to have) that are worth way more than their original sticker price.
1. BOB DYLAN // THE FREEWHEELIN’ BOB DYLAN (1963)
Dylan’s second album changed a bit just before it was supposed to be released in 1963, and those track changes can mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars if your copy falls on the right side of the fence. According to Record Mecca, four songs were replaced with newly recorded tracks, but somehow, someone at the pressing plant used the old version instead of the new masters to press an unknown number of albums. Since the album’s release, only a couple stereo copies of the mistake pressings have surfaced, and less than two dozen of the mono copies are known to exist. Thought to be one of the most valuable records in the world, a mint copy of the former once sold for $35,000.
2. THE BEATLES // THE BEATLES (WHITE ALBUM) (1968)
The Beatles’s self-titled double album (which later became known as the White Album) originally released in 1968, but not all copies were created equal. The members of the band and executives at the studio were given copies stamped with serial numbers that began with A00000, each in consecutive order (A000001, A000002, etc.). The very first copy, which Clifford J. Yamasaki of Let It Be Recordspurchased from an executive at Capitol Records in the 1970s, sold in 2013 for $35,000, a year after the copy with serial number A0000023 sold at auction for $13,750. The odds that you once owned a copy of the album that had a low serial number are slim to none, but not impossible.
3. DAVID BOWIE // DIAMOND DOGS (1974)
The original version of this album was withdrawn because the cover artwork featured a dog’s genitals. The label, RCA, reportedly “got nervous” and decided to airbrush the area out for the final version, but some employees were smart enough to keep the originals. Back in 2003, a copy sold on eBay for $3550. Given the amount of time that has passed since then, and the unfortunate fact that Bowie is now deceased, and you can imagine what these rare copies would sell for today.
4. SEX PISTOLS // “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN”/”NO FEELINGS” 7-INCH (1977)
As the story goes, English punk rock band the Sex Pistols were signed in early March 1977 by A&M Records, and then famously dropped from the label only six days later because of their behavior. When it decided to cut ties with the band, the record company had already pressed 25,000 copies of their single “God Save the Queen.” The order was given for the records to be destroyed, but over the past 39 years, nine copies have surfaced and have sold for upward of $8600. No one knows how many copies are still unaccounted for, but someone surely has to be lucky number 10.
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