24 Most Rare Vinyl Records Worth a Lot of Money

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Many music enthusiasts will tell you that vinyl records are the purest way of listening to music records. If anything, more people in the past decade, having realized that their advantage over digital formats, have jumped on to the vinyl movement. And what better way is there for music lovers to experience the gift of superior sound quality and quaint romanticism of records than through rare vinyls?

Of course those cost a tad higher than newer remastered pressings of classic tunes like we will see in this article where we will be looking at some of the rarest vinyl collectibles in the world.

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Vinyl Records

We know that our great grandparents were among the first people to use and love vinyl records but how far back do these technology staples go? When were they invented and by whom? The first recorded record, which went by the name phonograph record was by Thomas Edison in 1877. Yes, it wasn’t exactly a vinyl or a record per say as Edison recorded sound on tinfoil wrapped around a metal cylinder tube.

At the time, Edison was working on two of his most notable inventions, the telephone and telegraph and ended up inventing the phonograph so he could play back recorded sounds. In a June 1878 North American Review issue, the genius revealed that he saw the“reproduction of music” as a trajectory use of the device. Later on, he switched to a much more functional hollow wax cylinder.

In the 1880s, Alexander Graham Bell’s The Volta Laboratory made significant improvements to Edison’s designs and called this enhanced device, the

Gramophone. This improved disc didn’t need to read the sound from a wax cylinder like its predecessor as it ran via a hand-crank mechanism turning a hard rubber disc on a flat plate. In 1887, inventor Emile Berliner developed lateral-cut flat discs to be played on the gramophone, indistinguishable in use and appearance to the vinyl records we know today.

The gramophone was only sold in Europe and proved to be quite the rough outset of vinyl records. It didn’t do quite well; the gramophone was rather small and required to be played on a hand-crank machine. That didn’t discourage Emile in the least seeing in 1901, the inventor and his associate Eldridge R. Johnson made larger, better quality records than the previous toy gramophones. The two created the Victor Talking Machine Company in New Jersey for manufacturing records.

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12-inch records became particularly popular by 1903 as more people preferred discs that could play music for three or four minutes long. More duplicate wax cylinders continued to be made from molds and a harder wax type allowing upto 150 cylinders at a single production. These cylinders were known by some as gold-molded cylinders since the gold electrodes gave off a golden vapor.

Edison on the other hand, wasn’t stopping or getting stopped by anyone. He made the durable and long-lasting Blue Amberol Records in 1909 from plastic. A decade later and with the expiry of vinyl records’ patents and copyrights, more companies around the world mass produced these discs.

Of 78s and 33 ⅓s

RPM, which means rotations per minute, refers to how many times the disc will spin in one minute. The average turn per minute for Berliner’s hand cranked machines was about 78, making it the regular speed. With a 78, one was assured of three to four minute sides unlike 45s which were smaller and often had one song on each side. Afterwards, producers figured out a way of merging size and good audio quality with 33s. These can play twenty-two minutes per side – usually, a full album.

Beside storing up to 5 minutes of sound per side, 78s were made from shellac resin that will feel way heavier and more brittle compared to modern vinyl records. Some 78s however will be pressed with vinyl materials since they were made during World War II when shellac was hard to find.

The “Modern” Vinyl

The first commercially sold vinyl long-playing record was produced before 1930 by RCA Victor. It measured 12 inches in diameter and had a playback speed of 33 ⅓ rpm. Columbia followed suit with their 12 inch long-play 33 ⅓ rpm microgroove record in 1948. RCA made a comeback with a 7 inch record that had extended play (a smaller record that played one song on each side at 45 rpm).

Modern-day recording artists have stuck to this labeling even music that is unavailable in physical format, long plays (LPs) and extended plays (EPs), even though compact cassette tapes and eight-track tape cartridges took the spotlight from vinyl by the 1970s. CDs, digital downloads and streaming services didn’t help much either but nothing beats an old vinyl record with good audio really. And we mean, nothing!

Identifying rare and unique vinyls.

The Value of Vinyl Records

If you are wondering whether vinyl records are worth anything from all of the hype following their resurgence, they are! Their comeback has seen the cost of rare vinyls shoot up with those from more popular artists, controversial album covers and first pressings of classic albums like The Beatles going for heftier prices.

Yes, those old records you’ve been thinking of throwing out may be one of the rarest vinyls out there and this guide we compiled of 24 rarest vinyl records may be just what you need to uncover the value of yours.

What Influences A Vinyl Record’s Value?

Some vinyl records are more valuable than others despite them being from the same age. How does one explain that? There are many factors which influence the price of an old vinyl record in addition to age.

Knowing the value of your record ensures that you don’t expect more from selling them or that you don’t undervalue them as well!

The Condition

Most of the time, records in better condition end up being more valuable. One of the top qualities collectors consider when determining a vinyl record’s value is its condition. It makes total sense that a vinyl record from a famous artist that is in pristine condition may go for hundreds or thousands of dollars and the same goes for the opposite.

Most mass-produced records that were popular back then have generally undergone a lot of use and abuse. Vinyl records with scratches, abrasions,  and writings are likely to go for a lower value than those with signs of slight use.

In reality, damaged or worn records are usually unplayable on the turntable and therefore don’t draw the attention and interest of collectors. While it is hard to come across old records that are in mint condition, when a collector finally does, they are okay with paying a high amount for it.

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Rarity of the Vinyl Record

What makes a vinyl record available or unavailable in the market?

There are many factors that cause a specific vinyl record to become rare and condition plays a part in it. Take for instance a Beatles that is in great condition, these are usually difficult to find despite many folks having bought a Beatles record back in the day.

Foreign Releases, Limited, And Withdrawn Editions

Most record companies have their home in the U.S. or UK meaning vinyls from the two countries are pretty much the same unlike these and those from other locations. This also means that collectors from the UK and the U.S. will be drawn to and pay premium amounts for foreign records as these are far from what they are used to. A slight difference in cover, color, label or title and the vinyl record fits the ‘unusual label.’

Limited edition records are also very valuable and production companies make sure to capitalize on this fact by intentionally releasing limited copies of an album. This way, there is scarcity which in turn causes them to go for higher amounts. It is also a marketing strategy, this move, but we will not delve into how much creating a spasm for a limited record generates great revenue for now.

Label and Artwork

Besides condition and unavailability in the market, what collectors consider as the rarest vinyl records is also based on the labeling and artwork that went into creating a record.

Major record companies in the 1960s and 70s especially enjoyed releasing albums with different label art. This was mainly a strategy aimed at creating excitement among fans who bought the same album with different labels. A collection of a single album’s entire copies with different label designs will no doubt go for a high value.

Remember though, vinyls with original labels will attract more value than those of reproductions with more labels. Albums of famous artists will sell for hefty amounts despite the first issue.

A vinyl’s picture sleeve’s artwork also greatly influences its value. Different record’s paper pouch storages had different sleeve artworks with the more intriguing artwork attracting more collectors. Those with picture sleeves containing the artist’s name, album’s title and a photograph are highly sought-after too.

Artist’s Name

Like pretty much everything else in life, we buy brands. Names that we believe are worth paying for. In the same way, we buy and value music and vinyl records from our favorite artists. Records that were produced by well known artists hold a much higher value than those from little-known artists.

Yes, the artist’s name plays a huge role in a vinyl’s value. If you find one by the Beatles, Jethro Tull, the Rolling Stones, Elves Presley, or the Bee Gees, that is one fine vinyl collectible! Other times, an artist who may not have been popular back in the day may have new found fame after a modern celebrity makes a rendition of their song.

Color

Usually, vinyls that come pressed in any color apart from black are more valuable. Why? Colored editions are often limited editions and are thus rare in the market. These colored copies were made as promotional vinyls that would attract radio programmers and these popular albums, both commercial and promotional releases, came in green, red and yellow as well.

Promotional copies and picture discs (vinyls featuring an artist’s photo or other alluring graphics) are even harder to find given how many of them were produced.

Lacquers 

Also known as acetates, lacquers are independently cut vinyl records and are the first copies produced in a record production process. They are usually made for in-house use only but once in a while, lacquers are sent as promotional items to radio stations. Their main purpose however is to check a record’s studio sound quality before mass production.

Since they are produced singly, lacquers are especially hard to come by and if one doesn’t know how to identify original ones (they have a white label with blank lines) from mass produced ones, they may end up being conned off their hard earned money.

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Other factors that make vinyl records valuable include:

  • Albums produced by obscure labels
  • Recalled and withdrawn releases
  • Never-released copies such as acetates and test pressings
  • Still-sealed copies in excellent condition
  • Autographed copies

24 Most Rarest Valuable Vinyl Records Worth Your Money

#1 The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Capitol Executives cover RARE!!

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Capitol Executives cover RARE
This rare Beatles cover in new condition is going for $219,999.

#2 Rare Prince – Let’s Go Crazy 7” Acetate

Rare Prince - Let's Go Crazy 7” Acetate
This used vinyl record is worth 200,000.

#3 Israel 1969 TEST PRESS PROMO vinyl record The Churchills BAN 14106 unique matrix

Israel 1969 TEST PRESS PROMO vinyl record The Churchills BAN 14106 unique matrix
Going for $149,999.

#4 Vinyl: NIRVANA ! 8OO ! RARE VINYL RECORDS

NIRVANA
End price at $99,000.

#5 Vinyl: RICK SAUCEDO Heaven Was Blue LP REALITY RECORDS Private Press Acid Psych Rock

RICK SAUCEDO Heaven Was Blue LP REALITY RECORDS Private Press Acid Psych Rock
It’s selling for up to $80,000.

#6 Queen News of the World / Lady Gaga A Star is Born Vinyl MISPRESSING. SUPER RARE

Queen News of the World, Lady Gaga
This used vinyl record is worth $78, 336.

#7 9000 Classical Opera Violin Piano String Quartet LP Vinyl Records LOT Collection

9000 Classical Opera Violin Piano String Quartet LP Vinyl Records LOT Collection
This collection of used vintage records is going for $70,000.

#8 FRANK ZAPPA ~ ULTIMATE COLLECTION vinyl lp, CDs

FRANK ZAPPA ~ ULTIMATE COLLECTION vinyl lp, CDs
Gong for 49,000.

#9 Vinyl: Timi Yuro – It’ll never be over for me – on Liberty – VGC

Timi Yuro
This vinyl is going for $44,000.

#10 Vinyl: Beatles PROMO “ASK ME WHY / ANNA” Spec. DJ No. 8 – Extremely Rare Vee Jay 45

DJ No. 8 - Extremely Rare Vee Jay 45
This is going for 37,000.

#11 Vinyl: Elvis Presley complete set of ORIGINAL 1950’s Sun 45’s NEAR MINT

Elvis Presley complete set of ORIGINAL 1950's Sun 45's NEAR MINT
This vinyl costs $32,500.

#12 Vinyl: antique records and marvel holder

antique records and marvel holder
This gorgeous vinyl record holder is going for $30,000.

#13 Vinyl: 154 RARE NIRVANA VINYL RECORDS

154 RARE NIRVANA VINYL RECORDS
Get it for $25,000.

#14 Vinyl: Misfits LEGACY OF BRUTALITY Plan 9 PL9-06 Pink w/ Red VINYL 1986

Misfits LEGACY OF BRUTALITY Plan 9 PL9-06 Pink w, Red VINYL 1986
Buy it here for $22,335.

#15 Vinyl: Black Flag – Damaged LP 1981 Anti-Parent w/ Lyric Sheet & Concert Flyer

LP 1981 Anti-Parent
This rare vinyl flyer is going for 20,100.

#16 Vinyl: Elvis Presley Sun Records 45’s – Original – 5 Record Set

Elvis Presley Sun Records 45's - Original - 5 Record Set
Get this vinyl record set for 20,000.

#17 Vinyl: David Bowie Complete Studio Albums – Mint UK 1st Pressings

David Bowie Complete Studio Albums - Mint UK 1st Pressings
Costs $19,703.

#18 Vinyl: The Beatles 1966 BUTCHER cover

The Beatles 1966 BUTCHER cover
This original Beatles Vinyl costs $19,217.

#19 100 LPs Lot

100 LPs Lot
Costs $13,579.

#20 BEATLES ‘LOST HARRISON COMPRESSED’ WHITE ALBUM

BEATLES 'LOST HARRISON COMPRESSED' WHITE ALBUM
Worth $10,995.

#21 Nirvana Vinyl Records Flexi Collection

Nirvana Vinyl Records Flexi Collection
Going for $10,000.

#22 Elvis Presley Vinyl

Elvis Presley Vinyl
Costs $10,000.

#23 THE DAMNED SMASH IT UP / BURGLAR EMI ABBEY ROAD 7″ ACETATE c.1979

BURGLAR EMI ABBEY ROAD 7, ACETATE c.1979
This was sold for $5,169.

#24 SOUL PERSUASION Hey World GRAIL

SOUL PERSUASION Hey World GRAIL
Sold for $3,917.

Coveted vinyl records.


Tips for Buying and Selling Old Vinyls Online

There are more than one authentic physical stores and pawn shops for buying and selling old vinyls but don’t we all agree that online is the best store in 2022?

Online Resources

Books and online resources easily provide the value of your vinyl records. Some of the online resources where one may check vinyl prices and may be even buy one include;

  • eBay: Search for recently sold listings for your Vinyl on eBay.
  • Popsike: A site that tracks eBay sales and allows one to find the most valuable records.
  • Music Price Guide: Its name may condemn to a single fate but this site gives you real-world market values for vinyls through auction results.
  • Music Stack: Search for a record by artist and/or title here.
  • Discogs: Allows one to search for their vinyl and look at the value statistics.
  • Value Your Music: Shows current prices for vinyls from successful auction sales.
  • Etsy: This site has a good number of vinyls despite being originally meant for handmade items.

You may also consider searching for online collectors such as acetate/vinyl/shellac, record size/RPM, band/artists, era and photo sleeves.

Online record stores may not offer the full value but using them guarantees quick cash and most of these are extensions of locally ran record stores. Some popular online record stores include We Buy Records, Hard To Find Records, Shake It Records and Sell Vinyl.

Watch tips for selling vinyl records online:


Final Thoughts

Now that you know 24 rare vinyl records in the world, would you want to own a specific one from these or sell a highly sought-after similar vinyl? These hard to find and most valuable vinyl records are pretty worth every penny you have left but you already know that as a diligent collector.

Happy foraging!

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