There are many valuable vinyl records out there, including perhaps the most expensive Motown/northern soul 7 Inch ever, Do I Love You (Indeed I Do), recorded by Frank Wilson in 1965, and which sold for over £25,000/$31,000 at auction in 2009. (It was Wilson’s only single, and the majority of demo copies were destroyed, which is why it’s so collectible).
And then there’s what some record historians argue to be the world’s most valuable vinyl record – not just in monetary terms: The Quarrymen’s In Spite Of All The Danger / That’ll Be The Day, a 1958 acetate of the first songs recorded by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison at Philips Sound Recording Services in Liverpool. Record Collector now values the acetate at around £200,000, though other sites report it as being valued around £100,000. Either way, that’s one pricey record.
Don’t expect to be playing that acetate on your turntable any time soon – Paul McCartney bought it from pianist John Lowe in 1981 (then released both songs in 1995 by adding them to the Beatles Anthology 1 collection).
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Valuable LPs are varied and cover off a wide range of genres. In terms of how much they’re worth, some have an evergreen value, while other valuable vinyl records fluctuate in price depending on buying trends, band anniversaries and other notable events, including the death of an artist.
When we spoke to auctioneer and vinyl expert Martin Hughes, of Wessex Auction Rooms, to get his tips for our feature on how to buy and sell valuable vinyl, we also asked him what tips he would give people who are just starting out with collectible vinyl. “Begin by collecting artists that you like rather than trying to find the rarest or most expensive records,” Martin advises, “because ultimately there’s no guarantee that what you have bought will be a good investment for the future.”
Here we’ve chosen the valuable vinyl records we think you, as Louder readers, will be the most interested in (so apologies to any closet Olivia Newton John fans, but the Xanadu picture vinyl disc will not be putting in an appearance).
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Before we unveil our list, here’s a couple of things to keep in mind:
- This isn’t an exhaustive list – there are highly valuable vinyl records in other genres not covered below, so use this more as a springboard of inspiration to kick-start your own journey into the realm of buying valuable vinyl records.
- The estimated value of each record featured below is just a guideline – Allow us to repeat that: each value is only a guideline, gleaned from research conducted on authoritative sites including Discogs and Rare Record Price Guide, and auction sites and houses including eBay, Juliens and Christies. These values fluctuate and we are in no way saying that these are the definitive prices you should be charging or paying. Values differ between sites too, and on some records there’s a great disparity in prices.
Lastly, not all of us are in a position to shell out hundreds or thousands of pounds for a valuable vinyl record, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get in on this sweet wax action. That’s why underneath each entry for a valuable vinyl record you’ll find a link to a far more affordable reissue of the album. Speaking of 'budget', you might want to consider one of the best budget turntables to go with your new vinyl.
Anyway, hardly anyone buys collectible vinyl to actually play it – put those investment pieces behind glass (figuratively speaking) and spin the reissues instead.
Ready to find out if your record collection could help you pay off the mortgage quicker? Then let’s take a look at some of the most valuable vinyl records in the world today…
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10 of the world’s most valuable vinyl records
1. The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)
When you get to the bottom... the payout is massive
Year: 1968 | Format: Vinyl 2-LP (first UK pressing) | Label, catalogue number: Apple PMC/PCS 7067/8 (mono, stereo) | Estimated value: £1,000-£19,000+ / $1,264-$24,131+ (near mint or mint condition) | Featured songs: Helter Skelter, Blackbird, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
There are so many different estimated values thrown around for The White Album that it’s hard to get a definitive price without losing your mind – seriously, you should see the arguments that break out online about this one. But generally speaking, the lower the number printed on the front cover of each original copy, the more it’s worth (remember, people: condition matters).
The Fab Four nabbed the first four copies of the double LP, with Ringo Starr owning copy 0000001 UK first mono pressing. Ringo played it a few times, then chucked it in a bank vault for over 35 years before making it available for sale in a Julien’s auction in 2015 to benefit his Lotus Foundation charity. Pre-auction estimates put the album’s value at around $200,000 / £179,999, but it ended up selling for a wallet-busting $790,000.
Beatles collectors and rare records collectors will pay thousands for a copy numbered 1-100, and far more for a copy numbered 1-10. Want proof? No.0000005 sold for £19,000/$24,141 in 2008.
A ton of criteria affects the value of the White Album copy you own. For example, is it a US or UK edition? Is ‘The Beatles’ printed or embossed on the front of the LP? Is the serial number preceded by a prefix ‘A’, by ‘No’ (of which there are two variants) or a black dot? Does it contain a poster and four band portraits? And what condition are those in? Christ. Someone should write a book on how to value the White Album alone.
2. Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen / No Feeling
Never mind the bollocks, here’s punk’s most valuable vinyl record
Year: 1977 | Format: 7 Inch (in brown envelope with press release) | Label, catalogue number: A&M AMS 7284 | Estimated value: £8,500-£15,000+ / $10,956-$19,334+ (mint condition) | Featured song: God Save The Queen
As the story goes, six days after the Sex Pistols signed to A&M Records on 10 March 1977 outside Buckingham Palace, the label broke contract and dropped the band due to their raucous behaviour. Apparently, Sid Vicious smashed up a toilet and Johnny Rotten gobbed off at the office staff. Naughty boys.
A pissed-off A&M promptly ordered all 25,000 pressed copies of the band’s debut single, God Save The Queen, to be destroyed. Only a small amount survived the cull. That’s why this 7 Inch is one of the most valuable punk records in the world.
Authentic originals feature 7284 printed twice on the B-side, with God Save The Queen as the A-side and No Feelings as the B-side, and come with the original A&M sleeve, brown envelope and press release. When A&M closed its doors for good in 1999, more promo copies were found in the company’s vault and dished out to laid-off staff.
Then there’s the 1977 acetate, sent out by Malcolm McLaren to secure the Sex Pistols a new record deal after the A&M showdown. In 2012 these acetates were valued at £6,000 but have since increased in value by over 50%. When God Save The Queen finally appeared, in May 1977, it was on Virgin and with a different B-side (Did You No Wrong).
3. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody / I'm In Love With My Car
There’s a right royal fanfare for this coveted 7 Inch vinyl
Year: 1978 | Format: 7 Inch / single (blue vinyl and merch) | Label, catalogue number: EMI 2375 | Estimated value: £3,000-£5,000 / $3,806-$6,355 (mint condition) | Featured song: Bohemian Rhapsody
When EMI won a Queen’s Award To Industry For Export Achievement in 1978, the label celebrated with a fancy luncheon at Selfridges. Guests were treated to a limited edition blue vinyl 7 Inch of Bohemian Rhapsody / I’m In Love With My Car, housed in a hand-numbered maroon and gold custom sleeve. The hand-numbering is important, as only those numbered 1-200 come under the ‘official edition’ banner.
Just 200 copies were pressed, the majority of which were handed out alongside etched goblets, an embroidered handkerchief/scarf, a commemorative pen and a box of matches. If you own a legit copy of the 7 Inch plus merch, you’re looking at a sweet payday. In August 2013, No 37 of the single plus the embroidered handkerchief sold for £3,300. The complete package, including the original luncheon invite, attracts the top-end prices.
QueenCollector.net has a great tip for spotting genuine versions of this collectible vinyl record: it has the word ‘Blair’ in the run out groove.
4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
Small details lead to a nifty payoff with this valuable vinyl record
Year: 1969 | Format: LP vinyl | Label, catalogue No: Atlantic 588171 | Estimated value: £1,500+ / $1,945+ (mint condition) | Featured songs: Communication Breakdown, Dazed and Confused, Good Times Bad Times
Every rock fan needs a copy of Led Zeppelin’s debut album in their vinyl collection, but if you have the first UK pressing, you’re quids in. How can you tell if it’s the right pressing? On the album’s cover, the colour of the Led Zep lettering and Atlantic logo are turquoise rather than orange (as found on later editions). The record itself also features Superhype Music/Jewel Music publishing credits (the second pressing switched over to Warner Bros/7 Arts).
Even though Led Zeppelin is well-loved now, a lot of major press hated it upon release back in 1969. Rolling Stone tore the record a new one, calling Jimmy Page’s production ‘limited’ and describing Robert Plant’s vocals as ‘strained and unconvincing shouting’. Sounds like our karaoke performance on a Saturday night.
Fast forward a few decades and that same publication has the album listed at No 29 in their ‘500 best albums of all time’ guide. Wanna know more about the backstory to Led Zep’s hammer-blow of a debut? Read about it in our piece on the making of Led Zeppelin 1.
5. Ozzy Osbourne: Diary of A Mad Man (Unicef)
Feeling blue? You won’t be if you own this cyan limited edition vinyl
Year: 2019 (original album release 1981) | Format: Vinyl LP limited edition reissue Unicef Blue Vinyl | Label, catalogue number: Epic – 88697 86665 1, Legacy – 88697 86665 1 | Estimated value: £1,065 / $1,348 (mint condition) | Featured songs: Over The Mountain, Flying High Again, You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll
Here we go with more limited edition blue vinyl, but this time it’s Unicef Blue Vinyl. This limited edition reissue of Ozzy’s second studio album was limited to 50 copies, all individually numbered with a Unicef hologram sticker. It was one of 16 ‘classic, cult and contemporary’ albums reissued as cyan pressings to raise money for the Unicef Children’s Emergency Fund.
No 1 of the first pressing of Diary of A Mad Man Unicef Blue Vinyl was made available at auction in November 2018 and sold for £500. Prize draws determined the other 49 owners – at the time, people could enter the draw by purchasing a £5 ticket. That’s a huge ROI considering what these records are now going for in mint condition.
6. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon
A 1973 concept album that holds its value in more ways than one
Year: 1973 | Format: LP vinyl (first pressing, solid light blue triangle label) | Label, catalogue number: Harvest SHVL 804 Black inner, two posters, two stickers, gatefold sleeve, opens on one side | Estimated value: £1,000+ / $1,256+ (mint condition) | Featured songs: Time, Breathe, Money
Pink Floyd’s 1973 psychedelic masterpiece was the band’s first album to feature Roger Waters as sole lyricist, and quickly became an abundant cash cow for the band. So much so, some profits from the album were used to help fund the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Nice one, Floyd.
That fun fact aside, the original 1973 pressing on Harvest records is now a valuable collectible vinyl record, regularly loitering around the estimated value mark of a grand if in mint condition. Some have been auctioned for over £2,000/$2,531.
The original 1973 pressing has the iconic gatefold matte picture sleeve with single side opening, plus black inner sleeve, a solid light blue prism on the labels, and a greenish tint to the stickered album cover, with A-2/B-2 matrix stamps in the runout area.
The first pressing was packaged with a black semi-matt inner sleeve, two posters – one pyramids poster, one group poster – and two stickers. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon this little bundle in a charity shop, buy it and run (straight to the bank). The Pink Floyd archives has a very thorough run-down of the first pressing.
7. Nirvana – Bleach
‘Clean up’ with this collectible vinyl edition of Nirvana’s debut
Year: 1989 | Format: Vinyl LP (third pressing, red and white splatter, with 7 Inch) | Label, catalogue number: Sub Pop SP 34 | Estimated value: £800 / $1,026 (near mint condition) | Featured songs: Negative Creep, About A Girl, Blew
The Sub Pop Erika third pressing SP34, released in 1992 and limited to just 500 copies, is hugely coveted and features a 12-inch red and white splattered (marble swirl) vinyl recording of Bleach, plus Silver on 7 Inch blue vinyl. A copy still in its shrink-wrap with numbered sticker can command higher figures than the guideline value shown above.
But that isn’t the only collectible edition of Nirvana’s debut… The estimated value for the original pressing of Bleach on white vinyl, limited to 1,000 copies, jumps around a lot. According to Discogs, in the past it has sold for as low as £351 and for as high as £1,946.
8. Kate Bush – The Sensual World (Unicef)
Only 50 copies of this charity reissue were made
Year: 2019 (original album release 1989) | Format: Vinyl LP reissue Unicef Blue Vinyl | Label, catalogue number: Fish People | Estimated value: £780 / $985 (mint condition) | Featured songs: Reaching Out, Rocket’s Tail, Love and Anger
Like the Ozzy album featured further up this list, The Sensual World was reissued on a limited edition 50-copy run of cyan vinyl to help raise money for Unicef. Number 1 was sold for £2,200 in an open Unicef Auction, via Givergy, and copies 7-49 were entered into an open raffle. The others were sold in sets bundled with other limited edition Unicef Blue Vinyl.
If you want to own this limited edition re-release of The Sensual World, expect to shell out a heck of a lot more cash than the cost of a £5 raffle ticket. If you were lucky enough to win one in the Unicef raffle and are thinking of selling it, Discogs states that it has sold for £780 in the past, so use that as a rough guide but don’t be afraid to aim high. In fact, right now there’s a copy of The Sensual World Unicef Blue for sale on Discogs for £2,400!
9. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love
This valuable vinyl record will have you Little Wing-ing it to the bank
Year: 1967 | Format: Vinyl LP (mono 1st UK pressing) | Label, catalogue number: Track 612 003 | Estimated value: £750 (mint condition) | Featured songs: Little Wing, Castles Made of Sand, Bold As Love
Again, you’ll see many different versions of this guitar-driven album for sale, but if you want to attract the big moula you’ll need to own the mono 1st UK pressing on the Track Record label, with laminated gatefold sleeve and gatefold insert, and a sleeve cover designed by Roger Law. Depending on the condition, this Hendrix vinyl could be worth up to £750 or more, according to the Rare Record Price Guide.
As always, the amounts vary – in November 2015, MusicPrice Guide detailed a copy that sold for $928 / £835 at auction. Another sold on eBay in 2015 for $1,790 / £1,611. Feeling flush? Seymour Kassel Records currently has one for sale, with the price ‘on application’. We bet it won’t be cheap, but if you have the money and you love Hendrix, it’s worth exploring.
Oh, and it isn’t just Hendrix vinyl that’s super-valuable: eight lines of lyrics handwritten by Jimi in 1966 sold for a whopping £10,000 at Christie’s. But we guess that’s a small price to pay for something that’s been touched by an actual genius.
10. The Who – The Who Sell Out
Sell out then cash in with The Who's rock classic
Year: 1967 | Format: LP vinyl (mono / stereo, with poster) | Label, catalogue number: Original Black Track 612 002 / Track 613 002 | Estimated value: £600+ / $990+ (mint condition with poster) | Featured songs: Armenia City In The Sky, I Can See for Miles, Tattoo
Before concept album Tommy dropped in 1969, The Who hit us with this tongue-in-cheek number, served up as a pirate radio broadcast from Radio London, with songs interspersed with fake ads and bogus public service announcements.
Although the album was dogged by lawsuits stemming from the above, it received widespread acclaim upon release and still frequents ‘greatest albums’ lists. Released on the Track label in 1967, the first 1,000 UK pressings of the album (500 in mono, 500 in stereo) included a folded poster of a trippy butterfly (don’t drop acid then go gawking at this thing).
Other clues you have an original edition: on the front of the album sits a sticker stating: ‘Free Psychedelic Poster Inside’, though some people argue it said ‘Psychedelic Poster Inside’, but let’s not split hairs. Original vinyl copies also end with a locked groove that plays an instrumental version of what was originally intended to be a vocal jingle for Track Records.
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