Signs Your Record Album Is Valuable

Records leaning against shelves
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The popularity of vintage vinyl, also known as record albums or LPs, remains strong among both music purists and collectors. Learn more about what some top vintage examples are selling for these days, and keep your eyes open for opportunities to flip your finds and make a bundle. 

  • 01 of 03

    Anything Autographed

    Elvis Presley Loving You Autographed Record Album


    Competition remains fierce for autographed album covers complete with the vintage vinyl tucked inside. Not only are record album collectors seeking these items, but they also compete with autograph hounds and fans of celebrity memorabilia to drive up prices.

    Autographs of artists like Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, and David Bowie all bring good money these days. A number of autographed albums featuring signatures of all the band members, like the Eagles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Pearl Jam, are in demand as well. Some of the most valuable records contain autographs of all four members of The Beatles. Having signatures present on an album that is rare to begin with adds to the desirability, of course.

    With really high priced autographs especially, look for those that have been authenticated and include a certificate of authenticity (COA). Authentication services examine the autographs against other known verified examples, like those taken from celebrity correspondence or a bank check. 

    Remember, too, not to dismiss autographs of lesser-known artists such as classical performers or jazz musicians. They may not sell in the thousands like some of the examples mentioned above, but they can still be worth hundreds if you find the right ones. Both fans of the artists and collectors of different types of music genres compete for these records.

  • 02 of 03

    Sealed Albums

    The White Album by The Beatles, Unopened


    By 1970, "The White Album" by The Beatles had sold close to 6.5 million copies. Needless to say, this is just one instance where there are many of these LPs floating around thrift shops and estate sales now. They can be purchased very reasonably when the cover and/or vinyl is in not in top shape. 

    If on a rare occasion you find an example like the one shown here, still sealed in the outer cellophane, the price can jump to $500 or so. Anytime you find a record album by a noted artist that has never been opened and played, take a closer look. If it is by a major artist or band, and the price is right, you can't go wrong.

    To keep values at their highest, never open a factory sealed record. While you won't know the condition of the album inside (although it hasn't been played, it may still be slightly warped if it wasn't stored in a cool area), it doesn't matter. Whoever buys the record for their collection will keep it sealed anyway, and it is still considered to be in mint condition. Very few albums that aren't factory sealed can make that claim. 

    What stops someone unscrupulous from enclosing a record in new cellophane? Nothing. But this is why examining the cover closely for any signs of wear and soiling is a good idea before purchasing a sealed record. 

  • 03 of 03

    Record Rarities

    Blink-182 Cheshire Cat Album Rare Cover Art


    Ferreting out rarities takes a bit more study than noticing an autograph or snatching up a sealed album. And, it will be impossible to know about every nuance that makes an LP "rare," such as obscure cover art or records that were sold in very limited quantities.

    Hard to find covers include early issues that have artwork that was used only for a limited time before being changed. For example, the Blink-182 album shown here depicts a cat with red eyes and the name of the album on the cover. It sells for around $200 in excellent condition. Find one sealed in the original cellophane, as discussed above, and the price soars from there. Later versions showing a blue-eyed cat without the name usually sell via online auctions for $25 or so. Not terrible if you can pick up a disc for a buck or two, but not quite the payday associated with the rare cover. 

    Become an expert on record rarities by studying the genre of music you favor the most first, then branch out from there. Whether you like classic rock or rap or country, regularly shop online auctions and website vendors specializing in vintage vinyl. See which records are currently demanding the highest prices, and the next time you're hitting the local garage sales, you'll be ready to pick with profit in mind.