[Dixielandjazz] Record Collection Value

BudTuba at aol.com BudTuba at aol.com
Fri Sep 19 17:39:36 PDT 2003

In a message dated 9/18/03 1:09:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
bowermastergroup at qwest.net writes:

> She wants to know how she can put a value on the records and eventually 
> sell
> them.  Any advice I can pass along to her is appreciated.  I figured
> somebody on the DJML would know how to proceed with this or may even be
> interested in her records for themselves.  There could be some real
> treasures there

Can I assume these are 78-rpms?  33-rpm records are almost a dirth on the 
market since so many are available at garage sales, flea markets, eBay, and 
consignment shops.  Unless these are exceptionally rare recordings, most 33's will 
be worth less than $4-5 each when sold out of jazz collections where the type 
of record is a given.  There are exceptions for really rare LP's of the 
1950-60's which have not been rereleased on CD's and represent memorable bands or 
concerts.  Often these were produced by the bands themselves.  In those days, 
10" 33 LPs were also sold and can be among the more valuable.

Appraising a record collection can be an exasperating experience since the 
owner often thinks that all records are worth a lot and in actuality, only a few 
of them are while the majority may not be.  A thorough evaluation is needed 
to really know the value, but takes a long time and requires someone who is 
experienced and absent of personal motive.  Since the hobby of record collecting 
is also the source of these experts, the evaluator is excited when a good 
record is found (and often wishes to obtain it at least cost), but must be 
objective in terms of providing accurate information.

Individual record values derive from 1) their rarety; 2) their condition; 3) 
the demand for that record/performer, all of which take experience to assess.  
If a record plays well and is absent of a lot of pops and skips, it stands a 
chance of being graded at very good (VG) or higher.  To evaluate this a guess 
can be made by its appearance, but actually playing part of it is usually the 
final determinate.  This requires the person to have a record player capable 
of playing 78s.  If it is a Hill-and-Dale recording (such as Edison and Pathe 
recordings of the 1920's were)  the stereo pickup has to be specially wired to 
respond to the up and down movement of the needle rather than the more familar 

Bottom line is you might have to shell out a bit of money to hire the 
assessor.  I have a friend who's husband passed on a world-class record collection at 
they spent about $1 each to evaluate the 15,000 records he had.  After that 
is done, they still had the problem of selling them.  That can take a long 
time, but will yield the best price since each and every record is assessed by the 
buyers.  Some people are around who will sell collections on a consignment 
basis, however, it is important that the original owner have a complete detailed 
inventory of all records turned over for consignment sales.  That in itself 
can take time.  (Part of all that time being spent by people poring over 
records is what makes a record grow in value from one in a random stack to one that 
has been identified and catalogues.)

L.R. "Les: Docks of San Antonio, Tex is a dealer in collectible records and 
has prepared several additions of the American Premium Record Guide.  published 
by Books Americana.  These books are great for amateur assessment since they 
discuss the issues and only list performers who are of interest.  Record value 
ranges are given for playable condition records.  Just so happens I have 2 
copies of the 4th Edition (1992) which resulted from a Christmas gift from 
someone who didn't know I already had it.  There may be later versions available 
(check our Amazon.com) or this one can be had for $14 plus $2 postage.  The 
original price was $22.95.  Some bookstores specializing in over stocked books 
will have these available, too.

What this leads the frustrated seller to do is usually to find someone who 
will pay a lot price and take all the records off their hands.  Given that this 
is a jazz collection and has some rareties in it (but noone knows where 
exactly), they could be counted and sold at a lot price of $1.50-2.00 per record.  
You have to leave some valuation left over for the buyer to make it worth his 
while to go through them, etc.  This also can be done on eBay in smaller lot 
quantities of 30-50 records each, but the if the records are listed, they will 
do better than if just described as a stack from Dad's collection.  List them 
as No Reserve with an opening bid of $1.00 times the number of records in the 
lot and they should go higher. The buyer also benefits from reducing shipping 
charges for a group of records vs. onsey-twoseys.  

I wish I were in the market, but my own collection has reached the point 
where I have to divest of that.  One other possibility for the lady you are 
helping and for me as well, is to go to a music school and ask them if they would 
like the collection.  That keeps them together and the name of the collector as 
a sort of memorial.  They will give you a healthy appraisal for tax purposes 
and that can offset other tax implications of an inheritence.  And the music 
has the chances of inspiring some new young musicians to take up jazz and 
emulate the originals.

Bud Taylor
Smugtown Stompers
Rochester, NY
Traditional Jazz since 1958

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