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What Makes A Vinyl Record Rare and Collectible?

May 21st | Music Articles

Vinyl records can be valuable to collectors for a number of reasons, from the vinyl record rarity to their historical significance of the music or issue of the record. Some records may have been release in limited editions, and then later as a repress/reissue.

Limited 1,000 pressed 1991 vinyl record

While the music may be the same, the information on or inside the record may be different between the original pressing and the reissue. Records can also be rare when the vinyl has been remastered. The version that has not been remastered will usually be more valuable to collectors.

The Top 5 Things that Make a Vinyl Record Rare and Collectible

Rarity of the vinyl record: The rarity of a record is one of the most important factors in determining the price values. If a record is limited to a certain number of records pressed or was only released in a certain area of the world, it can be on a record collectors want-list. With records that we never made beyond the first pressing, the record will be rare. However, just because a record is rare, it doesn’t always mean it is valuable if nobody really wants the record. The demand for a rare record can change, especially if the band on the record was not popular until much later in their music career. For example, early Metallica records were on Megaforce records, but also issued on Music for Nations, Blackened, Roadrunner Records. Metallica’s Ride the Lightning was also issued on Megaforce, but later reissued on Elektra.

Is a Record More Valuable on Colored Vinyl?

Hand Numbered edition of 500 1st pressing vinyl record on red vinyl

Condition of the vinyl record: The condition of a record can also greatly impact the record value. Records in mint condition or sealed condition can be more valuable than copies of the record that have extensive wear. However, just because a record is like new, or sealed it does not automatically make a record valuable, especially if the record was mass produced. Some records can still be valuable based on condition when it is difficult to find the record sealed. This is more common with records from the 1970’s and earlier. With newer records collectors will buy multiple copies of a record in hopes of reselling at a later date, so a sealed version of a record is not all that rare. Finding an early Beatles album sealed would be a rare find.

Historical Significance of some Vinyl Records: Records that have a historically significant can also be highly valuable. If a record was owned by a famous musician can be highly sought after by collectors. Most of the records that fall into this obscure category would be very rare because the record would be a one-of-a-kind find. Also under this category for rare records would be autographed copies of records. If the signature can be verified, and the record is already collectible, the autographed version would be more valuable. Included in this category would be promo copies of vinyl records because of the history that may be behind the record.

Rare Vinyl Record with Handwritten Note

A Rare Melvins 5″ Clear Vinyl with Handwritten Note from the Record Label

Rare melvins vinyl with hand written note

Limited Edition Vinyl: Limited edition records that come with special packaging or bonus material can also be highly collectible and valuable. For example, early Nirvana records were produced in limited quantities, but later pressed in mass quantities when the band became popular. Records that fall into this category would be releases that were hand numbered. When the only version of a record is the hand numbered version collectors will place more value on the number of the edition. Low numbers tend to be more valuable. If the limited edition is 1000, single digit numbers will be more valuable. One reason is that the low numbers may have been kept by the band members and not sold to the general public.

Is a Record Valuable When it is Hand Numbered and Limited Edition?

Box Set on Rave Records #16 – Limited edition of 1000. Hand Numbered

The limited edition is also known by record collectors when the record was never re-issued by the label. The Urge Overkill Subpop Singles Club 7″ record was limited to 5000 copies on cool neon yellow vinyl. This record falls into the Limited Edition category, but the record is not sought after by record collectors, so the value is not very high. The Soundgarden 7″ for the Subpop Singles Club is more valuable because the band is well known, and it was the first in the Subpop Singles Club. 3500 copies were made on black vinyl, and 1,500 on purple vinyl. A record that is pressed on colored vinyl is not automatically more valuable. The limited edition value would come from the number of records pressed on a particular color of vinyl. Sometimes the standard black vinyl would be more valuable if the black colored vinyl was reserved for the first 100 copies.

Subpop Misprint on Single Club – Issued with Correction sheet

Misprints or errors on vinyl records: Records that contain misprints or errors can also be highly valuable to collectors. For example, the Nirvana Nevermind album had a misprint in the German edition.

Limited edition of 500 vinyl record – hand numbered punk record

Overall, the value of a vinyl record is determined by quite a few factors, including its rarity to collectors, the condition, limited edition, and any unique features. Records can quickly go from a standard value to a high priced collectible value over time, such as if a band or music style becoming popular many years after the record was made. Early Nirvana records were not always high priced and collectible until the band became more popular, and the demand increased the values.


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