The most rare and valuable jazz records


Source: Jazz Collector Database, analysis by LJC

Some records come up for auction much more frequently than their alleged scarcity would suggest, Mobley 1568 a case in point.

I am reminded of the TV comedy sketch Only Fools And Horses, when lovable rogue Del-boy returns from a day’s dodgy trading for his tea. His long-suffering wife serves up baked beans on toast. On alert, Del-boy demands:

“Baked beans? Where did you get these?”
Oh I found a load of tins in the garage“, admits his good lady.
“You dummy! Those are not eating baked  beans. They are buying and selling baked beans.

There are investors, traders, and dealers in high-end records, who understand the insatiable desire of a few souls who lust for something almost no-one else has got, something that people in their circle of acquaintances  will recognise as insanely rare, writhing in envy.

The high-end collectable jazz universe is insanely small, maybe only a couple of hundred people in a world population of three trillion, much smaller than the high-end rock pop classical reggae single collector tribes. Curio examples of truly rare records : a test pressing of a Beatles recording that was never issued, only one copy in existence, owned by Paul McCartney, valued near £1m; the last autograph John Lennon gave on a record cover before being shot dead by Mark Chapman £ ?

A different example of things that are “collectable”. What makes this ticket worth $5,000? What is a piece of “cultural history” worth? At least you can play a record.

Beatles Ticket


15 thoughts on “The most rare and valuable jazz records

  1. I have a huge collection of jazz lps, most in pristine condition. The collection includes a 13-volume set, each volume contain multiple lps and each with a hard cover book with the history of jazz associated with those lps. (vintage 1930’s-1950’s). There are approximately 600 lps in the total collection. I’m In the process of inventorying the collection.

  2. Looking for info on a recording made in the 1930s or about. Song was Stompin at the Savoy (side 1 ) (side 2) Body and Soul. Musicians : Gene Kuppa, B. Goodman, and a few more. Story has it; this recording was made before any of the Players had bands. Recorded at 78 rpm on 12″ disc. Closest I came to sound is Gene Kuppa’s drum solo on internet search.

  3. I have a tubby groove tempo tap 29 of my dads plus many others any all great to listen to. Sitting here doin nothing

  4. I just picked up Julius Watkins Sextet Volume Two, Blue Note 5064. Never seen one in the wild before, pretty rare. Great session with Mobley, Pettiford, Blakey, Duke Jordan and Perry Lopez. Now need to find Volume One

    • 5000 series 10″ Blue Notes, don’t think I have ever seen an original, though our friends to the East reissued them all. I have a couple of Toshibas, two titles on one 12″. Not the same I know. Interested what they sound like. Must be 1955 or earler.

      • yep – ’54/’55. Sounds great, typical Lexington sound. Happy to do a select listening session in Hampstead with a dedicated ’78 rpm/vintage mono cart and deck, a modern mono cart on a lenco and two decks with modern stereo cartridges. Good set up to compare pressings and originals vs reissues

      • I also picked up Horace Silver Trio ‘New Faces, New Sounds’ BLP5018, another 10″ Lexington. Not as interesting session as the Watkins. But fun and very punchy

    • I have a recording of Julius Watkins Sextet four tracks with Frank Foster , Perry Lopez, George Butcher, Oscar Pettiford,and Kenny Clarke .The remaining five trackshave the same lineup as your album. The titles are:
      Garden Delights Julie Ann Sparkling Burgandy B&B Jordu
      If you like a copy let me know. I can do a CD or tape. No charge.
      Take care

  5. Are these top 20 because of sentimentality or rarity? I feel like there are records way harder to find than these.

    • A simple question, which deserves a slightly more complicated answer. I quote:

      “In his insightful book The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa, Evan Eisenberg wrote about the unique motivations that lie behind the collecting of “cultural objects” such as records, noting five motifs as particularly significant.

      The first relates to time: “the need to make beauty and pleasure permanent,” based in a fear of its possible/likely disappearance, a motive common to cultural preservation efforts of all kinds.

      His second reason is related to the first: “the need to comprehend beauty” in that which is collected, which can become “more beautiful the better it’s understood… [and] certainly owning a book or record permits one to study the work repeatedly and at one’s convenience.”

      Third, he discussed the “need to distinguish oneself as a consumer,” to become “heroic consumers” who “spend on a heroic scale, perhaps, or with heroic discrimination,” acquiring the rarest items or the most complete set, or going to the greatest lengths for a purchase.

      The fourth motive has to do with nostalgia, a sense of belonging felt through collecting bits of the past; the collection itself serves as a bridge, and “each object connects its owner with two eras, that of its creation and that of its acquisition.

      The final reason is about the quest for social capital in all its forms, “the need to impress others, or oneself.””

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