It’s all about the music...

It’s all about the music...
Authored By John Nicholson
I’m often asked what the most rare record I have is. Well it’s not written in stone. It depends on what people will pay and that’s a difficult thing to judge. It depends when you're trying to sell something, is it fashionable or obscure and does more than one person really, really wants it.

Some basic principles apply. Scarcity. No point in thinking a million seller will command a high price. You want something that never sold many copies on vinyl but, crucially, is still desirable. Condition. I’ve got a Led Zeppelin debut album with turquoise lettering, but it’s destroyed and completely worthless. Condition matters. Is the sleeve and inner bag clean? A clean record with a manky sleeve is not what anyone will pay big for.

Sometimes rare albums that didn’t see much are not desirable and don’t get big prices. It depends on this metaphysical ‘desirable’ factor which is determined by who knows what?

It's worth bearing in mind that almost no record is worth big money and if you have something people will pay over £100 for you’re lucky. Mostly you’ll have rare/old records worth £30-£50 and you need a lot of £30 to make a fortune.

I’ve never collected based on rarity or value. For me, it’s all about the music. But I’ve accidentally ended up with a load of £30 records and very few really rare items. One of the most valuable is the Black Crowes album By Your Side. hardly any came out on vinyl. But I got one. This was a good way to get valuable records. As labels superseded vinyl with CDs, there are often just small amounts of vinyl, making it desirable. Catfish Rising by Jethro Tull is a good example. But that’s not worth a fortune. Nor is my debut Wishbone Ash album on the ‘dog bone’ label in pink and red, which MCA used to use in the early 70s.

Probably the most genuinely rare album I have is Fairport Convention’s debut. It's a first pressing in great condition, even that is only worth £250 on a good day. The most I’ve ever paid for a record is £70 for Egg’s Polite Force. So you can see, I’m not one of those collectors that pays big for a rare psych-folk album.

For what it’s worth, my advice is collect music, not the record. On the odd occasion I meet collectors obsessed with a record's value, they don’t get the romance of collecting. If you come across a rare item by accident in a charity shop, celebrate your luck because this will almost never happen. But don’t obsess about it unless you’re a catalogue number-type collector and it's your thing. In the real world you wouldn’t think £50 was especially valuable, so bear that in mind.

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