Why People Collect Records

Those Funny Black Vinyl Frisbees with Two Sides.

People are collecting old vinyl records for one of three reasons:

    A. They are reliving their youth (nostalgia)
    B. They weren't around and are trying to capture some of the old time charisma
    C. They see a chance to make money

Just as in any collectible, people want to go back to earlier times, some of which were "pleasant." It evokes a time when the person was younger, hence usually prettier or handsomer, healthier, and unencoumbered (bills, jobs, family, etc.) For most of us baby boomers it was a time of "innocence" and newness. The music was a Pied Piper leading us into new endeavors, unusual experiences, and a commraderie of friends (a la Woodstock). The record is an icon of that age. It creates an instant memory, like a whif of smoke, that tingles the senses (whatever senses we have left), jogs certain sensory images, and makes us smile, cry, or laugh.

A lot of people missed out on that. What a shame. So they try to conjure up similar atmosphere by buying the old records, getting a record player (still possible to do), and "groovin." It's not quite the same thing, but at least you can try...and usually with not a lot of money.

Those in for a buck will see vinyl records like they see other collectibles, books, artwork, ceramics--buy low and sell high. That's also unfortunate, but the name of the game. Rarity, demand, and condition will rule the value charts, so albums like the Beatles "Butcher" Album will command over $15,000. Bob Dylan's Free Wheelin Bob Dylan (with the cut Talkin John Birch Paranoid Blues) may be worth over $20,000. Certainly Elvis albums are hot, as are his singles. Even later albums by groups like Genesis are bringing upwards of $30. The keys are those I've mentioned. Check out the rarity (how many were made), how the public perceives the group today, and the condition of both the album, cover (yes they had covers)--and even sleeves!

The market is good for vinyl, especially for those considered the best. Look for lesser known groups or individuals, graphic and colorful covers, and those with small niche markets, i.e. jazz, blues, etc. You might try a year, a decade, a group, a "sound," or a topic (i.e. anit-war). Assemble the best you can from what's available and then continue to "trade up"--getting the top material and selling off the low end.

* This quote was given to a newspaper calling Leon about his ideas on record collecting. Enjoy!