Ever go into a store, see something you want, look at the price and say 'I'm not paying that!, I'll find it cheaper somewhere else!"? I have done that a lot. Or maybe you thought it was overpriced but bought it anyway because you really wanted the item or were too lazy to shop around? I have done that too. Experience has taught me that the monetary value of any given object, and especially used items, is only what someone is willing to pay for it.
So how do I go about valuing my vinyl? There is a plethora of published value guides available for purchase. Some of these publications release new additions annually, some not as often. While they all offer some good advice with regards to collecting, identification and grading, I prefer not to use these books as I find that the values are simply too static.
There are several factors that can effect the value of a record. A dip in the economy, as we have all experienced, can greatly reduce what a collector is willing to spend. For most (if not all!) of us, such things as rent/mortgage, groceries, etc... take precedence over that groovy 1968 private pressing in original shrink.
Sometimes a rare album will be re-issued on vinyl or CD and the value of the original will drop now that the music is more easily accessible and at a much cheaper price. It should also be noted here that many psych reissues, which tend to be limited editions, have proven to increase in value over the years, and can be a valid collecting option in their own right. Also, a cheap reissue can reveal that the music on that expensive rarity actually sucks (more common than one might think).
Renewed interest in a band can increase values significantly as well. Back in the early 90s I was collecting Pink Floyd vinyl almost exclusively. Foreign pressings, bootlegs, coloured vinyls, you name it. In 1994 Pink Floyd released The Division Bell, their first album in six years, and began a world tour the same year, resulting in the live Pulse album in 1995. Pink Floyd was now in the forefront of a lot of minds and accordingly values of used Floyd vinyl increased, sometimes doubling. I bought the new releases but at this time I generally decreased my overall Floyd purchases and started to focus on other bands.
And so, rather than rely on a published value that may remain fixed for a year or more I prefer something that better reflects the natural fluctuations in the market. This thinking might lead one to see what a given title is currently selling for, be it in a physical shop on the street or online. Certainly Ebay would be the easiest place to check for most. I was speaking to a guy recently who mentioned a record he had and that it was worth $60. In my mind I thought he was overvaluing by a long shot and I asked him how he figured $60. He told me he saw one for sale on Ebay for that price. Remember the question I opened this article with? I told him, yes it may be for sale for $60 but will it actually sell for that much? Ebay is full of overpriced items that don't sell. I referred him to a website I use often, and you will find in the links column, popsike.com. Popsike is an auction value database listing closing prices for finished auctions. In other words, what a record actually sold for. You will get the high and low ends as well as the average. Another site that does this is Collectorsfrenzy.com (also in the links).
I go with the average, considering the extreme highs and lows to be exceptions. What might cause these exceptions? Low ends might just reflect a general lack of interest in the artist or title at the time of auction/sale, though they could represent a sudden surge in available copies. A sudden or overall lack of copies of a title can obviously work the other way and cause an interested collector to spend a bit more than usual. There are many other reasons a
record can sell for a noticeably high price. Many vinyl collections contain within them sub-collections. I have a sub-collection of John Mills-Cockell in the works, within the body of my overall vinyl collection. Let's say there was only one release I needed to complete that sub-collection and let's say it isn't very common. I might find one for more than I would normally have paid for it, but as it is the last piece, I might be willing to pay more rather than keep hunting for months or even a year for a cheaper copy.
Foreign pressings will often sell for more than domestic pressings and likewise foreign buyers will often pay more for our domestic pressings than we will. I knew a fellow in Birkenhead, England who owned a used record shop. Over pints he once told me that business wasn't so good locally, but he had a collector who flew in from Japan once a year and bought a shed load of vinyl "at top price", essentially keeping this fellow's business afloat. I experienced the same selling British pressings of early Floyd singles at a flohmarkt in Klagenfurt, Austria. Collectors from Italy would snap them up without haggling or question. I've also known some more affluent collectors who regularly travel abroad on vinyl hunting expeditions, buying foreign releases for a fraction of the prices in their own countries.
Overall, the best thing to remember is that vinyl is worth what you will pay for it or what someone else is willing to pay you for it. All factors considered:)
Not a lot of information is available, but I believe Gentlehood were a Californian band playing a pleasant light, folky rock with acoustic and electric instrumentation and some vocal harmonies. The album spawned a single, 'America, Oui, Oui'/'Finally Home', though I have only seen a Dutch pressing (Columbia 1599), so can't verify a domestic release. Personally I feel that the A-side is not the strongest track on the album and a better selection certainly could have been made.
Prior to the album Gentlehood recorded a handful of songs for the Zabad label in 1970. The only release from this era I have been able to confirm so far is 'Gazebo(stereo)'/Gazebo(mono) (Zabad 2525) which is probably a demo or promo release, however several of these 1970 recordings exist online. There is also a 14 minute live recording to be found online, '1975 Gentlehood Live' inwhich it appears that the band had increased from the trio pictured on the inner gatefold sleeve of the album to a 5-piece. Note that this live recording only features excerpts of several songs from their stage show.
While many demo/promo releases appear on altered labels (usually white labels, or label printed as being demo/promo), sometimes a demo/promo is indicated as such by a sticker on the sleeve or label of a standard issue. My copy of this album is an example of the latter with a small promo label on the bottom of the back cover and "demonstration record-not for sale" rubber stamped on the label of side 2.
Here is the picture sleeve of the above mentioned Zabad single. It sold on Ebay for 46 US dollars back in 2008...
Gazebo(stereo) / Gazebo(mono) (Zabad 2525, 1970)
Side 1 - 1. Oh My (4:20) 2. He Said She Said (3:11) 3. Bridges On Progress Day (3:10) 4. Jacob Salk (3:25) 5. Closer To Me (3:43)
Side 2 - 1. Can I Be Your Man (2:51) 2. Finally Home (3:01) 3. America, Oui, Oui (4:34) 4. Hey John (4:09) 5. Life Performances Of Hymn (3:30)
T. Russo; S. Khanzadian; T. Fiegel
Recorded at Hollywood Sound Recorders and Wally Heider Studio.
I have noticed over the years that the vast majority of women I see visiting used vinyl stores tend to be in the company of a man who is the one actually buying records.
Only occasionally have I seen a woman hungrily flipping through the stacks, oblivious to the world around her, a pile of choice titles to her side. Admittedly, when I see such a rare sight, I get a secret thrill and fantasies of vinyl-filled love flood my brain. Of course the inevitable breakup would result in a war over who owned which discs. I think a pre-nup is in order.
Below are a couple of excerpts regarding collecting and women. The first is from an article by J.C. Furnas that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post of 27 May 1939, subtle sexism intact;) The second is a quote by artist Robert Crumb (probably best known for Fritz The Cat) who is an avid collector of 78rpm's. This quote appears in the book Vinyl Junkies: Adventures In Record Collecting by Brett Milano (St. Martin's Griffin, 2003, ISBN: 0312304277).
“Picking up chicks? Forget it! It never gets them hot, they don’t give a shit about collectors. I wouldn’t say that collectors are antisocial – that would imply that they want to do something harmful to society – but it’s not very sociable either. Very self-obsessed, kind of asocial. That’s why the world looks down on collectors, it takes a certain kind of personality. There is nothing sexy or glamorous about it. Women aren’t attracted to people because they collect. You can go up to them and say, ‘I’m an outlaw bandit’ and they’ll like that. But if you say, ‘I’m a collector’ – no chance.”
Robert Crumb has a few records.
Cover art for 2-CD compilation 'The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Super Rarities & Unissued Gems of the 1920s and 30s' (Yazoo 2202, 2006) by Robert Crumb.
I deleted my old google account and swapped the blog over to a new one resulting in the loss of all images. I will reinsert all images over the next week or so. Sorry for the inconvenience. Happy New Year:)