How Much Are Your Old Records Really Worth?
Part 2

Sorting Your Records for Sale (or value)

The following has been compiled from questions about record collections that we have answered by E-Mail.

Please use the following as a guideline for sorting your records . . .

Do you have any "rare" records? Do you have any titles sought after by record collectors?

Records with value

Your records must be in brand new (or close to it) condition in order to have any value

  1. Maximum value - All original "Rock 'n' Roll" and "Rhythm & Blues" records made in the 1950s until the mid-1960s ($10 to $30,000+)
  2. Some value - All original records that charted on the Billboard "Hot 100 charts" (had their records played on the radio) during the 1950s and 1960s ($5 to $100)
  3. Some value - All original 12" "Disco" or "Dance Mix" or "Italo" records manufactured from 1976 to current. These 12" records were made in both 33 and 45 RPM speeds (in very small quantities). ($5 to $100)
  4. Some value - All original 45 RPM records manufactured from 1990 to current. ($5 to $100)
  5. Occasional value - Very early (pre 1950) American hillbilly, blues, rhythm & blues original 78 RPMs - selected titles only. ($5 to $100)
Original records? Original records were the first commercial releases manufactured by the record company when the record was first popular. Consumers bought these records  when it was first played on the radio and was on the "charts." Records manufactured after it's popularity usually do not have the same label and number and are called "reissues." Because of it's age and history the original record is the one most prized by a collector.

Recorded formats with little or no value

Generally, very old records & tapes have little or no value - including all the following recording formats

  1. 78 RPM records made from 1900 to about 1962 (except item 1,2,5 above)
  2. 45 RPM records made from 1948 to current (except 1,2,3,4 above)
  3. LPs / 33 RPM records made 1948 to current (except 1,2,3 above)
  4. Edison (and other) cylinders made from 1877 to 1929 
  5. Tapes (cassettes, reel-to-reel, 4 + 8 track & VHS/Beta) 
Music (and other) categories with little or no value

Generally, the following music (and other) categories have little or no value (no matter when they were produced) 

  • Pre 1950 popular singers (Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Ted Lewis, Bing Crosby, Caruso, etc)
  • "Big-bands" of the 1940s (Glen Miller, Les Brown, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, etc), 
  • Spoken word including historical & comedy, 
  • Military bands and marches,
  • Sound-effect recordings, 
  • Prerecorded radio show sets on 78 RPM (often 16") or LPs or CDs (except "collected" artists (e.g., Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kiss, etc))
  • Children's records including Peter Pan & Disney, 
  • Movie sound tracks, 
  • Broadway and other live performance shows, 
  • Polka, 
  • Jazz, 
  • Country & western (except "hillbilly", "rockabilly" and "rock 'n' roll"), 
  • Ethnic (French, Polish, German, etc), Latin (Spanish / Salsa), 
  • Classical, symphony orchestra and opera, 
  • "Easy-listening", 
  • "Exotic", 
  • Pop orchestral instrumental (except "rock 'n' roll") 
  • Most other specialized music categories.
Other records with little or no value

Reissues (not the original record label & number) of '50s & '60s "rock 'n' roll" artists and songs on such labels as Time-Life, Longines Symphonette, Mobile Fidelity, Readers Digest, K-Tel, Ace, Stardust, Charly, Collectable, and many other labels do not increase in value beyond the original purchase price ($2 - $20). 

Reissues of other artists and songs (non "rock 'n' roll") on such labels as Time-Life, Mobile Fidelity, Longines Symphonette, Readers Digest, and many other labels do not have any value at all. 

Autographed items have no additional value unless accompanied by a legal document completed at time of signing. 

Imperfect pressings (wrong labels on records, etc) have no value.


Newsflash: Michael Jackson sold more records than anybody. Some of his LPs sold 50 million copies! His records on the the Motown, MCA and Epic labels are the most common in the world and have NO value whatsoever - not even $5. However he does have rare records with some value. In 1968 he recorded as the Jackson 5 for Steeltown records of Gary Indiana. Only two 45 RPM records (4 songs including "Big Boy") were originally released and were not hits in the USA. These two original 45s have values of at least $100 each if in brand new (mint) condition. They will be worth much more in the years to come. Because of Michael's popularity Steeltown reissued the record "Big Boy" again in 1995. This newer 45 release was remastered with an instrumental version on the flip side. Gordon Keith (the owner of Steeltown) sold the 45 as a mail-order "package" on the Inverted Records label. The package also included a CD and cassette and sold for $30.00. If you own the complete Inverted Records package you probably own the rarest Michael Jackson recorded items with the greatest value.


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