Some of the world's most valuable record albums can be sitting in your collection and you may not even know it! Everyone loves to make buck and dreams of the day they stumble into a thrift store, yard sale, or find some unsuspecting soul offering one of these albums for next nothing. Actually everyone may not dream of that, but they certainly wouldn't mind it happening. Before you ditch that old collection of vinyl on eBay, donate it to the Salvation Army, let your kids use them for target practice, or just toss them in the garbage to make room around the house, check this list and see if maybe you have a goldmine at your fingertips.
It goes without saying condition does matter and the prices cited reflect albums in near mint to mint condition, that goes for the album jacket as well. Also the price cited as an album's value may not reflect what you get if you actually sell it, and prices can change rapidly altering this list. Also worth noting is that this list does allow for 78 rpm, 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm records, so technically speaking not all are actually albums, but they are records. As was always said on American Top 40, "On with the countdown."
With an estimated value of $24,000 is none other than the King of Rock n' Roll Elvis Presley. His 1962 33 rpm release of "Good Luck Charm with "Anything That's Part of You" on the flip side was one of the last monaural releases to hit the shelves of stores before stereo recording took over for good. It may have only stayed at number one on the charts for two weeks, but due in part to it's significance as one of the last monaural recordings released, being an Elvis record, and what has wound up being a low survival rate of this recording in good shape, the value holds steady year in and year out.
Going all the way back to 1952 is the 78 rpm single "Stormy Weather" by the Five Sharps. The $25,000 list value of this record is mostly driven by rarity. The album was produced by Jubilee who only pressed this in a very limited quantity to begin with. The story as to why this began grabbing such a huge price tag is fairly well known to anyone that grew up in that era. Irv Rose borrowed a copy of the album from a record store to play on his radio show in 1961. The album broke and he offered a reward for a replacement of it he could give back to the record store. With none turning up and the reward slowly growing it became a nationwide treasure hunt. Over 15 long years only three copies turned up, only one in what was considered very good condition, one was actually cracked. A fourth copy did turn up in 2008, but details of what it sold for at auction have not been disclosed.
Dropping in again at Number seven is Elvis Presley with his 1967 promotional album release of "Stay Away Joe." This was a one sided press LP that was produced to push the movie by the same name and included several gospel songs. So far as anyone knows, only one authentic copy exists which has an inner sleeve note requesting it be returned to Col. Tom Parker. It went mostly forgotten until 1999 when it was found in Col. Parker's estate. The estimated value is $25,000 -$27,000.
In 1966 the Velvet Underground and Nico released "Acetate", their debut album. Since then no other copy has been found. Originally this was purchased with another pair of albums for a total of .75 cents. In 2006 it sold for $25,200, with current estimates of its value in the range of $27,500. Before you get excited, this is a different album than the European release under the same name. This particular album was made for their then manager Andy Warhol to shop the band to record labels. The tracks appear in a different order on this album than the more common European release, and the song "European Son" on this version is very blusey. It has been rumored that three were pressed although nobody has ever verified this and it was thought to be part of a scam to try to rip off unsuspecting collectors.
At number five is none other than the Sex Pistols with the 1977 release of "God Save the Queen." Of course the story behind the value of this has to do with bad behavior. At this time the Sex Pistols were signed to A&M records, but proved to be too much for them to handle. They were set to do a ton of recording, but managed to only last a week before being fired. With the desired album never released the single remained unreleased. In 1998 a dozen or so copies were given as farewell gifts to A&M executives in the London office, in mint condition of course. They were selling around $20,000 initially, one with the original mailer went for $25,300. Some current estimates say this could go as high as $28,000 -$30,000 now if released for auction. Never underestimate the power of punk!
Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You?" was all set to be released in 1965 by Motown but just didn't make to the shelves. It never was a terribly popular song until years later in the UK where a Scottish collector purchased an original copy for $30,000. That is the highest known sale price documented for a 7 inch single.
"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" chimes in at number three. This is an album that winds up confusing many new collectors that think they just hit the jackpot. In 1963 the original version was released only to be pulled quickly after. Dylan was not satisfied with four tracks on the album he felt were too old fashioned and wanted to replace them. To know whether or not you have a copy of the $35,000 original or a copy of the re-release, check for three key factors. Look first to see if the cover has a "Stereo/360 sound" logo, then for a sticker that reads "Singing his sensational hit Blowin' in the Wind." If you find those you did hit the jackpot, well almost. The third factor is making sure it is a copy with the original track listing as some do not bear this. Before shelling out the big bucks, get an independent appraiser to check it out. If the album owner refuses to allow this don't bother. Inexperienced collectors have been duped on this album more times than can be counted.
At number two is the Beattles 1966 album "Yesterday and Today." This is yet another album that confuses a ton of people thinking they have a pristine example of the $40,000 prize. As many already know this was the "butcher cover" in which they appeared in white smocks with chunks of meat and doll parts strewn around. The album was pulled and sold in many places for only one day, in others for two or three. New "sticker covers" were pasted on and the albums were returned to the shelves shortly after. While this album ranges from $150 to $7,500 depending on condition, the buyer, and numerous other factors, the big prize is the copy that was a monaural recording. Very few authentic examples of an album meeting all those factors exist, and the $40,000 price paid was for a copy that was still sealed.
The 1958 Acetate disk by the Quarrymen features "That'll Be the Day" on one side and "In spite of all the danger" on the flip side. The problem for any collector desiring this is that there is only one known copy valued around $200,000, and it is owned by Sir Paul McCartney. As most people know this was the precursor to the Beattles, so it is of huge interest to any collector. While you almost certainly will never have a chance to acquire this, digitally remastered versions were briefly made available for $20,000, as if Sir Paul really needs the money that bad he has to kill people on the sales price for a remaster.
The most valuable album is actually not the most valuable album as well. It is just the highest price paid for one specific album due to its historical significance. Still, it does merit mention. One copy of the 1980 John Lennon Yoko Ono "Double fantasy" album sold for $400,00 only because Lennon's assassin Mark David Chapman asked him to autograph that specific copy five hours before killing him. As such it does not truly belong at the top of the list as a normal copy of Double Fantasy can be had for the price of almost any album. It is just an extra piece of trivia for you.
In order to be sure you have a truly valuable album pay attention to the details. Small things can make a big difference, and in the case of some of these albums that difference can add up to thousands of dollars! The prices for these albums were culled from auction records, Diane Dannefeldt's research and Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums.
Goldmine's price Guide to Collectible Record Albums