“And how would sir like to pay – cash, cheque or Blue Note?”

Ebay record auctions are a measure of the world’s pulse on collectible jazz. Three or is it now seven trillion people on the planet, and only a few hundred collectors and traders in the whole world set the current “going rate” and confirm how desirable some of these records are.

Ultra-rare records have always earned their premium – the mint Mobley 1568, or 1538 Jutta Hipp whatever, and other entries in the famousJazz Collector  $1,000+ bin. Cheap compared to a Ming vase or Picasso, but expensive to us ordinary mortals. I am more interested in the going rate for “bread and butter” collectible jazz, Blue Note being among the most collectible. I am usually interested first in the home UK sellers to avoid postage premium, shipping delays, customs charges, or problems with dispute returns.In the last week I have noticed a new benchmark for these “mid-field” collectibles:

A handful I was bidding on all went through the roof. What would have sold for £100-175 a few months ago seems to have risen to now £200-275.

Ebay allows you to check back on the location of auction winners via the feedback listing of sellers. In the past when I have followed up high prices in Blue Notes  the South East Asia connection has been strong. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This time my interest picked up, in addition to our German friends (lots of “Musik” in the history)  an unexpected number of Russian Federation buyers, and damn it, UK audiophiles (buying history includes lots of tubes and components) . I guess if you are going to spend £20,000 on a turntable, £250 on  record is no big deal.

While the whole world is downloading and sharing for free, those of us who want “the real thing” are going to have to tighten our belts, remortgage the house, or just turn our sights on the “less collectible”.

28 thoughts on ““And how would sir like to pay – cash, cheque or Blue Note?”

  1. I have to agree, Dottore: caramel flavoured pipe tobacco is to be preferred over the sharp odour of a fine Cuban Cohiba. But since I’ve noticed that the smell of our beloved cigars even tainted the inside of my computer, not to mention the cardboard covers of what I painstakingly collected in my record cabinet, I decided to outlaw the cigar from the attic altogether. Tough decisions, I know… 😉

  2. no problem: I smoke the pipe! outside when kids are around, inside when they sleep.
    The smell of my Danish tobacco mixed with that peculiar one of old vinyls….
    Can’t resist: so I don’t stop smoking and I don’t stop buying records.

  3. Never too many records indeed. And in full agreement with Tony, ’cause when the wife flies to the States to visit her family, then it’s one big free for all for me and the lads. Only the cigars are off limits in the attic!

  4. I was in a record store a while back in conversation with a guy behind the counter, and I happened to say out loud my wife thought I had too many records. The entire shop fell about laughing – “you can’t have too many records, mate. Impossible.” (General agreement among everyone)
    Wisdom of crowds you know.

  5. attic or cave it’s my dream, no one in there, even housekeeper, wife or kids.
    my kingdom: keep out, I’m laying with my beloved vinyl.

  6. Thanks to some hard bargaining, I managed to claim the attic as my sanctuary. Finally I now have all my vinyls and CDs up there. I always keep around 5% of the entire CD and LP stash in the living room and refresh that 5% continuously, so that I always have a nice little pile to listen to for downstairs. Needless to say that I call the attic my office, where I sometimes have some ‘extra work’ to do in the evening. The perfect reason to listen to your cherished music while surfing the net with like minded souls and it saves you the torture of watching the trillionth, mind numbing, episode of so you think you can dance. 😉

  7. In your medical training, Dott, did you ever study female psychology? I encourage my wife to buy more shoes. As many as she likes. Five pairs at a time, in the sales. More even. The more she buys the smaller my record collection looks in comparison.

  8. I think we all got the same problem, my wife with her books, me with my wife for records (and cd and books).
    solution: we have spread ’em in four different locations, home, office, country and seaside.
    NOT records, they must live with me and be under view the most part of the year.
    Sadly I can’t take them with me when I’m out of town.
    Our home is next to explosion but, I can always find a small place for a new record.
    Don’t you?

    • Last tactic I tried successfully was to ask her where did she think the next record shelving unit might best go. After some huff and puff she came up with the suggestion. What has never worked is “I intend to put another shelf here” All that draws is the “For god’s sake how many records do you need? Rhetorical question, as all collectors know, you can never have enough records. It’s a scientific impossibility.

      • You got it!
        When I complain with my wife for her shoes, saying how many feet have you got? she kindly replies: and how many ears YOU have?
        useless to say my music is culture: her shoes are couture……
        impossible listening to shoes as well as wearing LP’s: it’s a draw.
        I get on buying records, she gets on buying shoes.
        A point for all us: try to sell used shoes.
        I’m sure wives won’t understand this.

        • Further more, records never wear out, unlike shoes. And while you can wear the same pair of shoes all day, you can’t play the same record all day, which is why you need more records than you do shoes. (Somehow I don’t think this line is helping. There are some arguments that are better not won.)

          • what about if we persuade our wives records are getting worn unlike shoes: they never throw them away, and us too.

  9. The bidder with feedback of 3629 bids and wins very often in auctions I am interested in. He indeed seems to be a professional dealer / seller.

    • He has to be a dealer, with that number of scores. The American comedian Steven Wright observed: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”
      That’s the problem for collectors. My collection is a little over 500 and I have a space problem. It’s called the wife.

  10. I think one problem is that we are outbidding each other. I was so exited when I found the Jackie Mclean because the seller did not mention the word adlib in the listing and I hoped that there was a chance to make a steal because many collectors simply wold not find it. Did not win anyway.

    • Don’t worry Jan – its OK to bid against fellow collectors! The bid history is fascinating:

      Sat at below £15 right up until the last call, when in the space of one minute it climbed to £227. As you probably know your own ebay score and pseudonym you should see where you sat in the pack. The winner and price setting bidder each had ebay history of 3629 and 2969 scores – which in my book means “dealers” – arbitrageurs. Simple jazz enthusiasts like you and me had no chance.
      My guess this will be sold on at an even bigger profit. The Dott is right – it’s a bargain at £227 – but for a “Goldfinger” collector (personal private island, submarine, and cellar full of unplayed Lexingtons)
      Ebay, love it and hate it.

  11. Tony is correct – it’s a montage of finished auctions in the last week, on which I “lost” each time.
    That Mclean presenting I was willing to go a long way for just that cover, over my “house limit” as they say. Not to say it wasn’t a bargain at what it sold for, just not sensible for me.
    We know from the Collectors weekly site –
    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/records/blue-note/auctions
    – the number of watchers on even the most desirable records is rarely over 50, and many of those are just “rubber-necking”. It is a very small pond but full of very big and very hungry fish, all eyeing each other up over the next morsel.

  12. dottorjazz: I think the image is a screen shot of completed eBay listings that londonjazzcollector will have been following on eBay. I agree with all your points, very well said. It seems there are a maximum of 20 or so people following most items. Very small pool.

  13. where does this screenshot come from?
    mclean on ad lib sells usually for much more.
    for £227 it’s a bargain!
    I’ve spoken these days with a friend who sells jazz records: he told me that requests are different in different periods: a record or a label sought after today, may fall in interest tomorrow, as always has been. Blue Note excluded.
    So, with patience and fortune, anyone could get a desired record without selling home.
    I’ve always been interested in 50s and 60s and I remember when no one wanted McLean’s records. Try to get them now! If you look at completed recs on Ebay, you see a medium price of over $300. When the market will be saturated, prices will go down.
    One question without answer is: how many collectors are out there?
    with the music available for a few bucks on cd or reissues how many will fight for an original?
    my impression is that there aren’t many: look at numbers of bidders, and nicks: just a few.
    if one already owns that record, he’s out, so requests slow down.
    I don’t believe in buying for investment, at these prices.
    At the recent record fair I saw some dealers NOT buying nice records for the price that couldn’t give them a margin in reselling.
    So, now, time for selling?
    never, for a collector, right for a seller, as Rudolf is doing.

  14. I have noticed a few of these too lately, must be the time of the year – sometimes it goes up sometimes down. One week a title will be bid up to the nines, the next it will not attract even half the price. Sometimes people get involve in bidding wars, see red and forget their own budget. How many of these expensive items get re-listed a few weeks later due to non-payment….

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