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I was record shopping this weekend and found a VG+ original pressing of Sonny Rollins' Way Out West. I was prepared to pay about $50 for it based on my Goldmine Guide (3rd edition). The record seller priced it at twice I was expecting. He had the 4th edition of Goldmine, which shows the price of this record going up 150% in 2 years. Talk about a run up in price! Checking some completed auctions of classic jazz albums on Ebay, it's amazing the prices people are willing to pay. It's obvious that a lot of these buyers are approaching vinyl as an investment. It reminds me of the internet stock market bubble of the 90's. There's definitely a vinyl "craze" these days and I wonder how long it's going to last.
No and no!
Sooner or later the ballon's gonna blow! As horrible as collecting instruments as art and hanging them on the wall is, many are beautiful...how pretty is an unplayed record?
Yes, the electricity that old farts have generated has affected some young folks, the numbers are very small compared to any other type of media. Playing records are a pain in the ass that we love...but we have to remember that the world's population is enamoured with "ease."
Maybe for 25 years, maybe less, but sooner or later the people who want these $5000 LPs are going to figure out that buying almost anything else is a better investment...perhaps even stuffed chickens.
I hope I'm wrong and that my great, great, great, great grandchildren are playing vinyl...but I think we're on shaky ground. Of course, that's not going to stop me from buying more LPs!
As others have noted, first pressings of these early jazz LPs are exceedlingly rare--some Blue Note titles were pressed in initial lots of 500-2000 copies and never went into a second pressing.
As far as "Way Out West" goes, I would expect a VG+ mono deep groove copy can be had on ebay for about $60-$75 if you are patient. A truly NM copy will fetch over $150 for sure. The original "Stereo Records" copy will sell for a bit less . . .
...and jazz on CD becomes cheaper and cheaper. I get a little catalog every 2 month from a German website i ordered German OJC LPs from a while ago. Alas no vinyl anymore. But jazz CDs aplenty for prices from 3 euro up to 5,6,7,10 euro. Brand new original CDs, no copies. I hate to say it but anno 2006, when you're into jazz and blues stick to redbook CD.
"The torture never stops"
but there are notable exceptions (i.e. anything on blue note, certain artists on prestige, and lots of sonny rollins as you noticed :)
but pick some other random $50 item from that price guide of yours and see that you might be able to score it for $5 or $10 on the 'bay (like any Dizzy on Verve, for instance).
i think the real phenomenon is that the internet has given us a very clear indication of what are the most desirable (and rare) records. doesn't matter how great (or how rare) a record is, if there is no market for it it isn't worth a lot of money. ebay is showing which records are truly in demand and in short supply and therefore extremely valuable. and it has deflated the value of most other jazz records by showing that the market for them is almost non-existant or the supply is much more plentiful than anyone imagined. i suppose ebay has probably brought more copies to light of many records. "uncle harry's records up in the attic might be worth something? well pull them out and put them on ebay!" and the world sees another copy of a Stan Kenton or Ella Fitzgerald record. in the old snail mail and brick 'n' mortar days of jazz collecting it may have been really hard to judge just how rare a record was - just because a local dealer has the only copy around doesn't mean it is truly all that rare.
of course another big factor in my over-tired theorizing might be that i am just plain wrong. :) i do admit to often forgetting that a VG+ record shouldn't fetch nearly as much an NM, but the distinction between those can often be lost on some. but, this may account for my general impression of deflated prices or non-existant demand. maybe a truly NM 'have trumpet will travel' by Dizzy may fetch more than i expect?
I think you're right on the mark. The inflated prices are for "classic" jazz albums of the 50's and 60's, especially on the Blue Note, Contemporary and Prestige labels. Goldmine prices are wildly out of whack on other albums that are less in demand. I recently bought a couple of albums valued at $50 in Goldmine for $5 each. They are no less enjoyable because of their paltry value.
in general, i think we all win - well at least those of us who aren't planning putting our kids through college by selling Stan Getz records.
Most collectibles have skyrocketed in price the last few years, along with the decline of the US dollar. Fine NOS tubes have tripled or more. Collector cars have done the same--doubled, tripled or more in just a few years. Most good real estate has popped significantly. Basically, any desirable hard asset has appreciated. Rare vinyl is right in the thick of it. I know of someone who sold a mint original deep-groove Blue Note "Cool Struttin" to a Japanese collector for...five grand. Two years ago.
At least according to some dealers I've spoken to, and some articles I've read. The Europeans too. The current relative weakness of the $ makes it more expensive on what is now a global market place.
Of course, they're not making more 1st pressings, but high quality reissues will satisfy those who just want the music, rather than the artifact.
Remember there was a similar bubble in baseball cards in the late 80s and comics in the early 90s that got out of hand, followed by a crash, and now prices are far more affordable. But there wasn't as much of an international demand for those items, so who knows?
For selected originals only (Blue Note, selected artists late 50's and early 60's).
I can readily pick up original pressings on Riverside, Verve etc. in Tokyo for under $20 (typically around $10). CTI and ECM are also very cheap (I just picked up Jim Hall's Concierto for 780 yen on the weekend).
I can readily pick up original pressings on Riverside, Verve etc. in Tokyo for under $20 (typically around $10).
Not really hard to imagine... since that is most likely the place most original, highly coveted jazz titles seem to end up anyway, thanks to lots of well-off, overzealous collectors over there.
IIRC there's a chapter on the Vinyl Junkies book that states how Tokyo might well be the city with more vinyl shops per capita than anywhere else in the world. Considering the current prices BN and Riverside originals fetch on eBay, suddenly the idea of getting a roundtrip ticket to Tokyo just to get those records at realistic prices doesn't seem so far-fetched.
You are probably right about the number of vinyl shops. There are a couple of stores that sell *only* new vinyl in the heart of Shibuya (central Tokyo) and they are large. Unfortunately, the music is mostly hip-hop and R&B which is not to my taste.
The downside is, of course, that vintage turntables etc. fetch really high prices compared to the US (on Yahoo Japan auctions). I am surprised at the lack of American turntables here and only read about them on the asylum. The only foreign turntables that you see here are Rega, Nottingham and Linn. Most vinyl fans in Japan seem to like direct drive turntables with exchangable headshells (to easily change cartridges depending on the music you are listening to). I, too, have an old Sansui direct-drive that I am very happy with. I keep wanting to hear one of the top (VPI ?) belt-drives to see what the fuss is about but haven't been able to so far ...
I have sold many Jazz lp's on Ebay, including a NM copy of Tina Brooks True Blue-sold that one 5 years ago for $1200, it's worth a lot more now. The Japanese on ebay are mostly dealers, less so now than in the past though, so you usally end up selling them to a dealer. I have also visited Japan and what I found was that LP's that would fetch around $100 on ebay would sell for $300 and LP's that would sell for $1000 would sell for anywhere from $2000 to $3000 or more there. And this is on top of ebay prices. I have been told that a lot of the Japanese customers would rather buy from Japanese dealers. However you are seeing higher prices now because more of the Japanese customers are buying on ebay. What every one dosn't realize is that these LP's have been selling for these prices over there for a very long time! The Japanese dealers used to buy this stuff up in the 80's and early 90's for $20 to $50 and occasionally spending $100 to $300 for "select" titles. They were then sold over seas for prices similar to what they sell for now. Ebay has ruined it for the Japanese dealers too!!
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