Blue Note Auction Prices


Pile-of-American-100-Dollar-BillsNo point in beating around the bush: be they buyers or sellers, people are interested in the “market price” for Blue Note records. Whilst there are several services that can be of help, such as Popsike and Goldmine, there is to my mind an absence of targetted analysis of the collectability of specific artists. Enter LJC, with a little help from the Jazz Collector Price Guide extracted and analysed uniquely by LJC.

Auction outcomes included in the Jazz Collector Price Guide do not claim to be comprehensive but include the outcome of premium auctions on Ebay of original vintage collectable Blue Notes, mainly Ex or Mint- condition and exclude later US and Japanese reissues or modern audiophile, and records in lesser condition, all of which which render Popsike calculated averages unhelpful. The result is an analysis here of 1,760 premium Blue Note auctions, with an average auction price of $546

Auctions are subject to the vissicitudes of human desire and competition, so it is always instructive to consider the average sale price as a baseline rather than the highest sale price. It is also worth remembering that Ebay database sources are not corrected for retracted and fraudulent sales. The gigantic scam by disgraced Ebay seller Nautiluso are still reflected in published auction results.

LJC Thinks some moreStudents of politics and economics may also take comfort from the fact many of the highest priced rare and desirable records figure among those changing hands most often. Its called Supply and Demand. Nobody has yet come up with a better system for allocation of scarce resources that doesn’t involve redistribution of Mobley 1568’s to The Poor, or all being owned by relatives of the leader or members of The Ruling Party.

I don’t value them enough to put this much money on the table, but I respect a system that would allow me to, if I did.


My thanks to Jazz Collector for the valuable work they do and excellent forum they provide, which was the original inspiration for my own site.What appears below is an original “value-added” statistical analysis of their price guide, not something that appears on their site. (We don’t do plagiarism around here, unlike most of the internet).


1. Top Ten Blue Note Artists commanding the highest maximum price at auction (all titles)

Artist Number of Auctions Highest Price (USD) Average Price (USD)
Mobley, Hank 141 5,600 989
Clark, Sonny 52 3,750 1,284
Hipp, Jutta 28 3,650 1,385
Brooks, Tina 15 3,250 1,740
Morgan, Lee 116 3,000 850
Coltrane, John 26 3,000 662
Reece, Dizzy 30 2,948 636
Griffin, Johnny 31 2,651 949
Jordan, Cliff 35 2,444 970
Monterose, J.R. 12 2,358 1,007

2. Top Ten Blue Note Artists ranked by average price at auctions (all titles)

Artist Number of auctions Highest Price (USD) Average Price (USD)
Brooks, Tina 15 3,250 1,740
Hipp, Jutta 28 3,650 1,385
Clark, Sonny 52 3,750 1,284
Monterose, J.R. 12 2,358 1,007
Mobley, Hank 141 5,600 989
Jordan, Cliff 35 2,444 970
Jenkins, John 13 2,025 949
Griffin, Johnny 31 2,651 949
Smith, Louis 28 1,825 855
Morgan, Lee 116 3,000 850

3. Top Ten most valuable Blue Note records at auction (specific titles)

Blue Note Title Count of Auctions Maximum Price USD Average Price USD
1568 Hank Mobley 17 5,600 2,908
1588 Cool Struttin’ 11 3,750 2,560
1530 With Zoot Sims 16 3,650 1,853
4041 True Blue 15 3,250 1,740
1576 Sonny’s Crib 14 3,050 1,043
1557 Volume 3 Lee Morgan 12 3,000 1,296
1577 Blue Train 26 3,000 662
4023 Star Bright 12 2,948 755
1538 Lee Morgan Indeed! 18 2,927 1,386
1590 Candy 19 2,905 1,410

For the individual Blue Note title results, go here.

Question to LJC readers: What is the most you have ever spent on a record? Own up. No one will know, apart from us.


Postscript – trends in auction values

This analysis makes no claim as to accuracy other than on an “as found” basis.

Average Auction price (USD)
BN label/ Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Lexington 838 1,011 1,240 1,100 1,194
W63rd 826 946 1,128 1,025 1,094
NY USA 214 316 439 614 714
Auction price % change year on year
BN label 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Lexington +21 +23 -11 +8
W63rd +14 +19 -9 +7
NY USA +48 +39 +40 +16
based on analysis of 704 auctions 2009-13

Analysts disclaimer – value of Blue Note records in future years may go up or down. The only thing you are guaranteed is great sounding music. And that is indeed an excellent return.

Postscript 2:  Caution!

Digging more into the data (thanks DaveS) I am reminded of the story used in the training of statisticians:  it is quite easy to calculate the average income of fifty ordinary people seated in a bus. The problem starts when Microsoft founder Bill Gates gets on the bus…

Having cross-checked the Jazz Collector database with Popsike, there are common auction records, which is good and gives confidence in the underlying data. However there are some very freaky auction results in the real world, the equivalent of Bill Gates getting on the bus, outliers, which have a disproportionate effect on average values. In particular, there are two particular record auction results in that are interesting in their own right.

BN 1577 Coltrane Blue Train auctions go bat-shit crazy if the seller mentions the presence of the mythic NY 23 variation on one side of the label, or claim that it is near-mint “looks hardly played” and the killer “nearly impossible to find in this shape” . This copy broke all records for Blue Train:  $3,000 !

Coltrane Blue Train 3000 USD Capture

Coltrane Blue Train 3000 USD Capture2

The other noted was one auction of BN 4163 Dolphy’s Out To Lunch, unremarkable in itself,  which netted three times more than the next highest auction price – $1524 compared to $588.  What gives? Hormones or fraud, who knows?

Dolphy Out to Lunch 1524 USD Capture

It is normal practice to trim outliers to get a better feeling for the trend in the “normal” range, but I will call a halt at this point, and stop torturing the data.

The issue raised by DaveS identifies auctions for records that are second or subsequent pressings, where the first pressing would command a higher price. Around 10% of NY label auctions are for records whose first press was on an earlier label. around 4% of auctions with W63rd labels are similarly placed.  (Are you still awake at the back?) This seems to be a routine feature of auctions from one year to another, and not something that explains trends.

Gosh this has been interesting getting under the skin of these auctions.

















17 thoughts on “Blue Note Auction Prices

    • I think It’s not an either or thing, like you either care only about the money or you care only about the music. I care about the music and I am interested in how the collector market prices the record. Why not both?

      • Oh yes, our host LJC should be commended for his well-rounded approach to the music and the analogue medium. Just take a look at and you’ll see what I mean. (Disclaimer: following this link may bore you to tears.)

  1. matching scarcity and price, many BN are overvalued, as they spring up quite often. there’re many other records hardly or never seen on the market. when one comes out, prices are interesting but far from the usual BN. This two words are the real offenders, and we, the collectors, are guilty, the market is guilty, till now. for future? I don’t know, but I think that most of the heavyweight records, once bought, should lay for ever in someone’s collection disappearing from the market. indeed this isn’t true, otherwise how to explain so many copies of a “rare” record comin’ to life so often?

  2. Is Blue Note averagely the most expensive label to buy in original pressings? Sun Ra Saturn originals are much rarer and are expensive collectors;’ items. I wonder how they would compare?

    • short answer seems to be yes for the most part, but some saturn verified originals are otherworldly. fitting, really.

  3. I would have to be stinking stinking rich to be laying down thousands on a piece of vinyl with a nice cover. Although you could argue that it is a shrewd investment to buy these ‘pieces’. My own particular vinyl fetish is to own a nice collection at a decent price.

  4. Good stuff. Any data on trend over past 3 to 5 years? Certainly we all know it is quite frothy out there in the BN Market.

    • The Jazz Collector Price Guide is just that, a Guide, not a continuously updated database (I wish!) It includes a lot of auctions from 2008, then it’s topped up each year, sufficient for its purpose.

      I have looked at the change in average auction values over time. I’m not sure how much validity that has because the casemix is volatile but its certainly an interesting exercise from an analyst’s point of view.

      For what it’s worth, there looks like a significant increase in Blue Note values between 2009 and 2011. Since then its sort of reached a plateau for the “war-horse” albums (Lexington/W63rds) but a continuing rise in the value of the less expensive NY USA titles. Interesting huh? I’ll add the results to the post.

      • LJC: Thanks for the value trend change data. The question on the NYs is are these First Press NYs or Lex/63rd released on NY? I assume the former, but if there is bleed over to the 2nd Press on NY, that would be interesting.

        • Good question. I’ll have a look at the attribution of label by catalogue number.
          (Oh for access to Popsike’s database. I could make it sing and dance, I kid you not)

          See postscript – updated

      • You’re seeing the same kind of thing in the fine wine market. The uber top ($3000 USD) wines have held at a nice steady plateau for the past few years, going up a bit here and there.

        It’s the items in the $250 – $750 range that have seen much greater increases the past few years? Why? Two reasons.

        1) More people are getting priced out of the top end market with wines they used to buy, but now can’t afford them or can’t stomach the current prices.

        2) People are getting more wine savvy and realize that when they do comparative tastings sometimes the underdog shows close enough to the big guns.

        You’re seeing the same thing with Blue Notes. More and more people are realizing they can deal with a second pressing or Liberty or King, etc even if they used to go after more Ears. I speak with some experience here.

        Just like with wine collecting, in vinyl collecting there are so many factors outside of your control (stampers, pressing in vinyl and storage, corks in wine) that affect the quality. Once you get burned or do the Pepsi challenge with various comparisons you sometimes throw up your hands and just take what’s good enough that competes.

  5. So, doing the math, number of auctions times average selling price:

    Top Ten Blue Note Artists commanding the highest maximum price at auction (all titles) $481,442.00
    Top Ten Blue Note Artists ranked by average price at auctions (all titles) $481,427.00
    Top Ten most valuable Blue Note records at auction (specific titles) $241,508.00

    Those alone account for over $1M. I wonder what the projected revenue and profit is on the current Blue Note reissue project that Don Was is driving, selling at ~$25 an LP?

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