Are Old Records Worth Money in Today’s World?
Whether you’ve amassed an enormous collection of vintage vinyl records, or you’ve inherited a handful of your family member’s vinyl records, it’s very possible you’re dying to know the answer to the following question: Are my old records worth money in today world?
It’s a great question to ask, as it almost seems impossible to believe that a record that came out in the 50s or 60s or 70s could be worth big money today—and that it just so happens to be sitting in your collection!
So in today’s article, I’m going to help you find out how much your vinyl record is worth so you can know for sure if you’re sitting on a goldmine or an album worth next to nothing.
How Much Are Vinyl Records Worth Now?
So although we all may get into vinyl records because we love music and enjoy the sound that vinyl provides, it’s only human nature to wonder about the value of things we collect.
For some people, it’s extremely exciting to discover that an album we inherited from a family member, or a record we bought for $5 at a local record shop, could be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Everyone hopes that they are sitting on a goldmine—but could that really be true?
Well, to help figure this out, I’m going to outline a few of the best ways you can determine how much your vinyl records may sell for on the open market. There’s various ways to get a good estimate of your record or entire collection, but here are some of the ones that I personally love using the most.
How To Tell If a Vinyl Record is Valuable
Now, the first entry on this list is going to be the most obvious to some, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. And that’s eBay.
Now, before I sell any item, I always like to find out how much it sold for previously on eBay.
To do that, I would go into the search bar. And in this particular case, I would type in the album I was interested in selling (or the album I simply wanted to know what its going rate or approximate value was).
So in this example, I’m going to type in the keywords “Beatles Yesterday and Today Vinyl.”
It will then show me all of the current auctions selling this album. To find out what this album sold for previously, go over and hit Advanced Search.
Then, you should see an option that says “Searching Including: Sold Listings.”
Click the box to the left of that. And then go up and click the search button.
Now, we see all the sold auctions for this album. I like to sort listings like these by highest price, which is easy to do with the Sort Listing drop down menu.
From here, you can click on any listing you like and begin to get an idea of how much your record might be worth when compared to the same album having recently been sold by someone else.
What I like about this method is that you get to see how the condition of the record sleeve and the record itself factors into the price.
So, as you can see from the photo above, three of the most recent sales of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today have sold for several thousands of dollars. We’ll definitely get into why this Beatles album is so valuable later in this article!
Now, you might be wondering—well, if I can just do a quick search to see previously sold listings on eBay, what more do I need?
Well, as great as this feature is on eBay, it’s severely limited, as eBay only allows you to view three months worth of sold listings.
So, this brings me to number two on my list, which is actually a three tie between Popsike, Roots Vinyl Guide, and Gripswheat.
Using Popsike, Roots Vinyl Guide and Gripswheat
Now, all three of these sites work in a very similar fashion, as they are all aggregators of sold online auctions for vinyl records. This means that Popsike, Roots Vinyl Guide and Gripswheat keep an accessible database of all the auctions related to vinyl records that have sold on eBay.
Unlike using the search feature on eBay, which limits you to just three months worth of sold listings, I like that Popsike, Roots Vinyl Guide, and Gripswheat have databases that go back many years.
In fact, in some cases, I noticed that results within the database went back as far as 2003. I wanted to test this out for myself, though, and so to do that, I typed in “Michael Jackson” on all three websites to see how many auctions results from the past would come up in the search results.
On Popsike, it results in 25,000 search results of past vinyl auctions.
Roots Vinyl Guide brought back over 55,000 results.
And Gripswheat returned over 56,000 results.
So, all three sites are pretty deep when it comes to the past auctions you can dig through to get an idea of a record’s worth.
Now, while all three websites are free to use, you are encouraged to either sign up or become a paying member to all three. The free version of Popsike, for example, allows you a daily limit of search queries on their website. So once you hit that limit, you’ll either have to come back another day to start anew, or pay money for a full membership in order to have unlimited searches.
And while Gripswheat is free, it does encourage you to pay a monthly membership to keep the website ad free. Doing so also gives you the benefit of listening to audio clips of records that are sold in auctions dating back 45 days or more.
I think this is a great benefit to determining whether old records are worth money, because instead of just seeing a static page informing you of how much a record sold for, you can know get a rough idea of the quality of the record that was sold.
So for example, if a record on Gripswheat is shown as having sold for a good sum of money in a past auction, a paying member to the site could theoretically listen to a short audio clip of the aforementioned record, getting an idea on whether the vinyl itself was in Near Mint condition or Excellent condition or Very Good Plus condition.
And if what I just said was at all confusing to you, I wrote an entire article (and made a video!) on the concept of vinyl record grading here.
As far as which of these three sites are the best, well, I think it ultimately just comes down to personal preference. I tend to like all three for different reasons. Although, one thing I do like about Roots Vinyl Guide is that along with all of the past eBay auction sales data you can use to gauge a records’ worth, you tend to get a pretty good amount of listed auctions that show very large images of vinyl records and sleeves.
This is particularly great, as bigger images allow you to see any potential imperfections in records or sleeves being sold, allowing you an even bigger insight into why a record is valued the way it is.
Using Discogs to Determine Vinyl Record Value
Now what’s great about Discogs is that it provides you with so much helpful information about albums you’re both looking to add to your collection, as well as ones you already own.
In fact, if you go to the search bar on Discogs and type in an artist or title into the search bar—and for the sake of continuity here, let’s type in the album “Yesterday and Today.”
From here, we arrive at the profile page for this album, which not only includes the track listing for this album, but information such as what year this album was released, what country it was released in, and the catalog number of the album, as well.
This page is particularly in helpful in finding out what version of an album you have. And if you click into some of these listings, there is additional detail about the album to help you determine if the version that’s in your collection matches this particular release.
Now, before you sell any record, it’s probably worth doing a bit of research on its history before you jump onto eBay or Discogs to sell parts of your collection.
Many records will lose their value over time, but every now and then, you’ll find that you may just have something that’s worth a little bit of money.
Are Beatles Records Worth Money?
The album “Yesterday and Today” is a great example. In 1966, Capitol Records released this album with the infamous “Butcher” cover. The cover featured the band posed with raw meat and plastic dolls with severed heads.
It wasn’t long before the album cover ruffled a few feathers, so Capitol Records decided to do something about it. So the record label eventually replaced that Butcher cover with an image of The Beatles posed beside an open trunk. This cover is often referred to as the “Trunk Cover.”
Nowadays, there are four versions of this album floating around. And depending on which version you own, and howgood of a condition the record is in, this Beatles album can be with either thousands of dollars—or next to nothing.
One version of this album is of course the original Butcher cover art—which is called a First State cover. Basically, if you were fortunate enough to grab this album in stores in 1966 before it was yanked off shelves, you have a true First State cover.
Now, number features the band posed next to the open trunk. But what makes this unique is that Capital Records pasted this cover on top of the infamous Butcher cover.
And so, if you have this cover, you should be able to see Ringo’s black turtleneck bleeding through the pasted over Trunk cover art. This version is often referred to as to a Second State Butcher cover.
Now, the third version of this album is based on people that couldn’t stop their curiosity from getting the best of them. That’s because this cover will feature the Butcher cover—but only because the owner of the album peeled back off the pasted over trunk cover art in an attempt to reveal the original Butcher cover.
In this scenario, these covers are often referred to as Third State covers.
And finally, the fourth version of this album will once again feature the Trunk cover. There’s no Butcher cover art under this cover however, which is why these are referred to as true a Trunk cover.
So, obviously this is a fairly unique circumstance, but it goes to show that with a little bit of digging into the records you own, you can find some interesting history, and maybe a valuable gem that’s worth a little bit of money too.
Using Auction Houses to Asses Vinyl Record Value
And that brings me to the last option for finding how much your records are worth—with is auction houses. Now a lot of people think of auction houses as something more of an upper class type of thing. And perhaps there is some truth to that in certain walks of life.
But there are more than a handful of online auction houses that sell pop culture related items. For example, if you sign up for Heritage Auctions, you’ll be able to utilize the site in a similar fashion to eBay, in that you can see current items that are up for sale, along with past items that have sold previously.
But unlike eBay, where you can go online and see past auctions that only date back a few months, you can find past items that have been auctioned off on Heritage Auctions from many years prior.
This is absolutely perfect for finding how how much a vinyl record is worth. And that’s because, on a place like Heritage Auctions, people have their vinyl records appraised prior to them being auctioned off. An appraisal is helpful, as it can give you an idea of the actual value of your vinyl record or record collection.
When I logged into Heritage Auctions to see how much the “Yesterday and Today” Beatles album was worth, the results varied pretty wildly. Some “Trunk Covers” were going for just a few hundred dollars, while some “Third State” covers went for a little over $1,000.
Nothing too crazy, right? Well, let’s dig a little deeper. Because where things got interesting was in seeing how much First and Second State covers sold for on Heritage Auctions.
When I went through some of the older auctions, I noticed that a Second State cover sold for $13,750 way back in 2019.
Pretty impressive. But we’re not done yet, folks. In fact, it’s nice to use the site to see how much a Beatles album is worth (at least potentially worth) when its well taken care of and is a First State Butcher Cover. Because while Heritage Auctions did see a few First State covers go for just a few thousand dollars, there were some that went for an astronomical sum of money given their condition and legacy.
For example, in 2017, a First State Butcher cover sold for over $57,000 on Heritage Auctions. Not only was this a sealed copy, but it actually included the original 1960’s letter from Capitol Records prompting the reader to return their copy of the album due to the “offensive” nature. Namely, the fact that the Butcher cover art could be “subject to misinterpretation.”
Also in 2017, John Lennon’s very own Butcher Cover album prototype, complete with his original artwork and signatures of Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, went for a whopping $125,000.
Now, right about now, you just might be thinking the following:
My version of Yesterday and Today isn’t sealed, nor is it signed—can it still be worth a lot of money?
Well, the answer is an emphatic yes, so long as it’s in very good condition.
While a First State cover is quite rare, Heritage Auctions has indeed sold Second State covers for the following prices:
Of course, I don’t mention all of this to you to suggest that Beatles albums are the only albums worth money. My point with this article is to illustrate that, by using every tool and website at your disposal (eBay, Discogs, Popsike, Roots Vinyl Guide, Gripswheat or Heritage Auctions), you’ll be able to get a pretty solid estimate for how much your vinyl record collection is worth.
And, in particular, it’ll likely give you a better idea of how well certain records might sell compared to others.
For example, just taking a look at Heritage Auctions again to get a rough idea of a Rolling Stone vinyl record’s value, a rare copy of “Street Fighting Man”/”No Expectations” 7-inch single went for a shocking $81,250 back in 2017 due to its withdrawn artwork on the cover.
And while Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” sold for an incredible $9,375 in 2019, a Prince “Purple Rain” album that came from Prince’s own personal collection only went for $3,250 in 2018.
So, are old records worth money in today’s world? Yes, they certainly can be, but it depends on a variety of factors such as:
- The condition of the record
- The nature of the record’s popularity
- The possibility that controversy during or after the album’s release added to the album’s mystique or mythology
- Whether the album is opened or sealed
- Whether the album is signed or comes from a personal collection
- The popularity of the artist that made the music
These are just a few of the caveats, of course, but hopefully, this article has given you a better idea of how you can best find out how much your album is worth, as well as where you can go to sell your record or entire collection—whether it’s just a few albums or endless stacks of vinyl records.
This article is based in part on a video I did for my YouTube channel entitled “Vinyl Record Value.” If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to check out that video as well:
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