A brief guide to selling your classical record collection
If you started buying vinyl records in the mid 1970’s then it is most likely that there is nothing in your collection that has any great value. If you started buying vinyl records in the 1950’s & 1960’s, however, then you may have a few or indeed many valuable records that are of interest to collectors worldwide.
Below you will find a brief guide to evaluating your collection. Classical vinyl records are collected mainly by record label (manufacturer) and not as one might think by composer, conductor or performer. The mainstay of todays collectables were mainly made in the UK and produced by Decca, HMV (EMI), Philips, RCA, Columbia & Deutsche Gramophon.
Click on the labels for a larger view
This label produced the SXL series which are now among the most collectable of classical records. These are stereo records and are identified by the letters SXL followed by a 4 digit number – eg. SXL 2020. This can be found on the jacket and on the record label itself. The value of these records varies enormously, but generally they are worth between £5 – £100, more for the rarer ones – eg. SXL 2020 ‘Espana!’ conducted by Argenta which currently sells for £150. Later pressings of this series are not worth nearly as much and in most cases it is only the original pressings that are highly sought after. Look at the label to the right. This is known as the ‘wide band’ label because of the thick silver band that runs across the label.
Now look at the label on the left. This is a later SXL pressing and is known as the ‘narrow band’ label because the width of the silver band is greatly decreased. These later pressing can be worth up to £50 in rare cases. Box sets in this series have the same label but a purple background instead of black. The letters SET can be found on the box and label of these sets followed by a 3 digit number.
Decca Monos of this period bear the letters LXT followed by a 4 digit number and are occasionally valuable when they feature a certain performer (usually a violinist) or conductor. If a stereo version of the record was issued in the SXL series it is worth no more than a couple of pounds or in a lot of cases nothing at all!
Collectible Stereo Columbias are the SAX series. These can be worth up to £200 (and very occasionally more), if the label is silver and blue. The violinist Leonid Kogan is particularly sought after on this label commanding prices of up to £800. Later labels are red and can themselves command quite high prices.
“Monos made by Columbia bear the serial 33CX. A few in this series, especially those made by the violinist Johanna Martzy are of extreme value.
For instance a three record set of Martzy playing Bach on this label can fetch up to £2000 in mint condition. Most records on this label, however, are worth from £1 – £30, or again nothing at all if a stereo version exists on the SAX series.”
HMV & EMI
Stereos on this label that are of interest are the ASD series. The more valuable ones have three digit numbers as opposed to four, and a white & gold label, worth up to £200 or more for extreme rarities. Later labels are red and there are many variations corresponding to pressing date. Worth between £1 and £50 the more valuable ones tend to feature violinists or the cellist Jaqueline du Pre.
“This company issued a lot of records called “”Living Stereo”” with series letters SB. Look at the label on the record. If the letters “”RCA”” are white, they have little or no value. But if the “”RCA”” motif is in a circle, in silver and dark red, they can be worth between £5 and £100.
American RCA Living Stereos bear the serial letters LSC – or SER if in boxes. Record labels with the HMV dog printed against a shaded background can be worth between £5 and £100.
American RCA Living Stereos bear the serial letters LSC – or SER if in boxes. Record labels with the HMV dog printed against a shaded background can be worth between £5 and £100.”
DGs are usually of interest to collectors if they have a ring of tiny blue tulips all the way round the yellow label on the record . These are worth between £5.00 and £30, more for Johanna Martzy. German made DGs are the collectors choice and those that specify made in England, or Austria, on the label are worth around a Quarter of the German issues. The first pressings have not only the tulip label but also the word “stereo” in the middle of the jacket in a red oblong. If yours are all against a yellow background then they are almost certainly second or later pressings.
In principle I am interested in any classical vinyl LPs so long as they are in excellent condition.
Other labels that may be of interest are: Argo, L’Oiseau-lyre, Capitol, Chandos, Ace of Diamonds, Decca Head (Decca’s contemporary music label), Fontana, Harmonia Mundi (mainly an early music label), Lyrita, Telarc, Vox, Unicorn, Ducretet Thomson, Brunswick, Parlophone, Pathé… and classical records wanted on many other minor labels. We do buy selected 78rpm records but we are very choosy.
What price can you expect to get for your collection?
I first started in this business many years ago by scouting for another dealer. He offered me one third of his catalogue price for the records that I found. Eventually I managed to find a dealer who would pay more (this was very hard!) and this is the payment scale that I now use. This is as follows:
Records of £10 – £30 value I will pay one third.
Records of £30 – £50 value I will pay 40%
Over £50 I will pay 50%
There are exceptions to this scheme however. Sometimes I have many copies of some records, that for whatever reason are not selling at the prices I put them up for. So if this is the case I will offer a lower percentage.
If you have any records to sell, please use the contact form or click here.
A word about lower priced records. Generally if a record has a retail price of £10 or less then it is either not particularly saleable and in high demand or there are many copies around, which means it was produced by the thousands. Let’s say you had a pile of these records which collectively had a retail value of £100… I would be very unenthusiastic about giving you £10 for the lot! In general my payment scale for classical records wanted above is for vinyl I know I can sell and that won’t hang around on my shelves for too long.
As well as classical records wanted, we also buy other genres of music: Rock and Popular Music, Jazz, World Music, Soul and Motown, etc.
I regret that we do not buy Easy Listening or Country & Western LPs.