Record Buying: On grading, the market place and other collecting conundrums

In the world of collecting, the subject of condition by experts and novices alike stirs a great deal of conflict for various reasons. For someone such as myself, who has been purchasing new and used vinyl LP’s and singles since the age of five, I’d like to think that my rather large investment of time, energy and money made me a more discerning collector, and later dealer. I’ve also come to the realization through the years, that despite by knowledge, there really is very little exact science and far more subjectivity in this hobby but there are ways to understand the market place better which I feel can make collecting a more fun and happier experience. So it is with this in mind, I’d like to start by giving an overview of grading and condition and their effects on pricing in the market place as well as some little quirks to the hobby.

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Vee Jay Records: Originals Vs. Repros (The Basics)

I was recently asked by a pal about how to tell the difference between legitimate Beatles releases on Vee Jay Records versus counterfeits. Though this could cover a serious amount of ground, I think just a few main pointers might be useful therefore this is by no means a comprehensive list.

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Autographs: A Primer With A Disclaimer

Every once in a while, I get into conversations with collectors and non-collectors about my thoughts on signed items, mostly about the Beatles. I always issue my standard disclaimer that I am not, nor have I ever been and autograph expert, not even in the slightest. I’ve owned Beatles autographs, seen quite a few and do have a general idea of what their signature looked like through the years. But when I’m asked to look at a signature bearing John, Paul, George or Ringo, or anyone else for that matter, I give my standard plea of total ignorance regarding the subject. I don’t have the credentials to call myself an expert. But that never stops clients and friends from asking my opinion anyway. So after they accept my disclaimer, I’m more than happy to elaborate on the subject.

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You say goodbye. But I say … Bogus!

Counterfeit Beatles vinyl records were relatively abundant during the age of vinyl in the 70’s and 80’s with the biggest suspect being the Vee Jay Records “Introducing The Beatles” LP. I recently came upon a new counterfeit, though not 100% dubious.

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Buying valuable vinyl on the web

With most major music retailers and brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop stores going bust over the last twenty years, buying vinyl on the web has become the norm these days, but can seem daunting and is often risky. When speaking with clients, they often mention past web purchases where they were greatly disappointed with what they received and how it was not really what they expected, usually of the far worse variety. This is particularly an issue when buying high-end vintage collectibles where age, use and storage wear takes its toll on a highly desired item and the seller either does not have the experience and know-how to accurately describe the item (ie, an innocent mistake), or the seller is pumping an item’s condition to get him or herself a higher price (aka, the seller has a vested interest in over-grading). The story usually involves a purchase for some rare record, let’s say it was from a seller on Ebay, that had been described as in near mint condition. The buyer pays for the item, including shipping and after waiting a few days or more, gets the record only to find that it’s got far more miles on it than the advertised description mentions. And the buyer is unhappy and disillusioned.

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Grammy Beatles Mono Listening Party: A Report

Grammy Museum Panel
Steve Berkowitz, Ken Scott, Mike Mettler and Michael Fremer discussing the Beatles mono vinyl project.

I was fortunate to be able to attend a very limited seating listening party at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on 9/10/14 to hear samples of the new Beatles Mono Box set hosted by Sound & Music editor Mike Mettler, and featuring the renowned recording engineer Ken Scott, reissue mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz and Analog Planet’s Michael Fremer.

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