SELLING CLASSICAL LPs

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THIS GUIDE IS AIMED SPECIFICALLY AT CHARITIES USING EBAY but is of use to anyone uneducated in classical LPs.

There's a date often found on the label: ignore it! It's usually the date the recording was made not the date the disc you have was actually issued so quoting it only misleads buyers or demonstrates your ignorance. Some early Decca mono issues have a date code on the sleeve back, at the bottom by the printer's details. This is usually expressed as MM/YY or MM.YY: this is a reliable indicator to when the sleeve was printed.  Early Deutsche Grammophon sleeves have a similar code, also very reliable.

It's not the actual music that sells, it's the disc label, recording artistes and the overall condition. Many popular recordings appears in many guises: an early EMI recording might appear on Columbia or HMV, and be simultaneously or later issued on their World Record Club mail order label. A few years later it will arrive on Music for Pleasure or Classics for Pleasure. Decca had it's Eclipse, Ace of Diamonds/Ace of Clubs labels for later cheap reissues of early recordings. Some of the Ace of Damonds/Eclipse issues were not issued earlier on Decca but may have originally appeared on related labels like Brunswick, RCA or Capitol.

Some of the most desirable labels:

Columbia SAX with a pale blue and silver label

HMV ASD with  a cream gold rimmed label

DECCA SXL or SET with a wide silver band across and 'Original Recording By' at 10 o'clock: usually theres a concentric groove.

Deutsche Grammophon with tulips around the rim and 'Alle Hersteller' at 2 o'clock - if the 'Stereo' on the sleeve front is in red, all the better.

RCA SB/SF with 'Living Stereo' on the sleeve and labels.

Philips  with 'HiFi Stereo' on the sleeve and labels.

It takes a while to learn all the ins and outs of the rare and valuable stuff. You can short-cut all this with two steps: firstly make sure the disc's serial number is in the title line. If the number on the sleeve doesn't match that on the disc label then go for the one on the label MAKING SURE that the sleeve and disc actually belong together! I've seen records listed with the wrong sleeve because the seller hasn't checked this. Some WRC issues are stereo in mono sleeves, the same applies to Supraphon - actually there was a 'stereo' sticky label but this can fall off.

Secondly, photo with the disc label fully visible: it's the earliest label that fetches the highest price so show what you're actually selling! If you've got an SXL, SAX or ASD then search for those in Records - Classical and see what others are selling and the labels - this will not only show you what variations exist but also teach you the shorthand used in title lines. Abbreviations like WBG ED*1/2/3 or NB, B/S or W/G have a meaning - discover it!

Some early mono discs fetch high prices especially on Columbia CX, HMV ALP or Decca LXT. If these have a stereo version the value disappears. The stereo issue of a recording can sell for 20+ times the mono price. Note that any Decca LXT with a serial starting with a 2 will have no stereo equivalent. Many of the lower number LXT5nnn are also mono only.

The very earliest Decca SXL stereos have a blue border on the back of the sleeve - point this out as it adds to the value.

CONDITION: discs weren't pressed with scratches and scuffs. Some sellers seem to think they were and use the word 'MINT' so as to render it meaningless. DON'T! Unless you are CERTAIN that the disc has never been played a Mint grading will not be believed. Even if the disc looks unplayed, check around the spindle hole for little marks caused by the paper rubbing against the deck spindle - they'll be there! Even if they're not, the chances of a 40 year old disc being in perfect condition are equal to a Lottery win. Near Mint is an acceptable grade for an apparently unplayed disc. Any marks on the playing surfaces - report them. Any damage, staining, fading or wear to the sleeve, report it. Normal; room lighting is inadequate: get outside in strong sunshine and then look - a lot will be revealed!  Anything invisible to strong indoor lighting will probably have no effect on play quality but sunlight shows up everything!

An absolutely perfect sleeve can be described as mint.  

If you have no means of playing a disc to verify it's visual condition then say so and always offer a FULL refund should the disc not sound as it looks. Don't expect bidders to bet on your ignorance.

'Classical' does not mean 'old'. Mantovani, Chacksfield, Kaempfert, Percy Faith etc are pop musicians for older people: they are not classical recording artistes. The Sound of Music/South Pacific etc are only fit for binning until someone comes up with a profitable way of recycling the vinyl. Listing any of these would be financially foolish - they will not sell and bidders will question your judgement.  Just because there's an orchestra doesn't make it classical music.

Pack properly! Your PO should have a booklet detailing packaging standards for all sorts of stuff including LPs. The PO will not refund for damaged items if these standards are not adhered to. Stuffing an LP in a padded envelope affords no protection to the sleeve. If you have a lot that should sell, buy some Record Mailers, thin LP sized protective polythene sleeves and card stiffeners. If you've only a few, cut up strong , uncreased cardboard into 13" squares and use parcel tape to secure the pack. Put the LP into a plastic bag or wrap in newspaper preferably with the disc in it's inner but out of the outer. Make sure that exposed parcel tape can't stick to the sleeve. With mailers, always include a stiffener with one or two LPs. If there's more to pack, take the outer sleeves, put them in the poly protector and then put the discs/inners on either side still in the protector. This will be stiff enough and up to 7 can be mailed like this - the mailers are quite roomy. 

Don't overcharge p&p: in the UK £3 1st class is enough for 1 LP and £1 per extra LP. To Europe £4/1.50 is more than enough. Worldwide, £6.50 + 2.25 for extras is fine to a total of 2Kg. Some sellers think it's clever to add a couple of quid - it's not, and their final bid prices reflect this. Note: this guide written in 2005, is out of date here. Postal Airmail  costs have increased considerably but Royal Mail Signed For 2nd Class is still cheap at around £4 to mail up to 7 LPs (2Kg weight limit).

Lastly remember that the bidder is doing you a favour by bidding and, because they bid, you get more money - even if they lose. Be nice to them! Also remember that the biggest market is now the far-east and my experience is that those bidders are more trustworthy than European ones. I have, in seven years, never had a packet mailed to Japan/Taiwan/Korea or China go missing. Italy & Spain, that's a different story!  Because of the high initial airmail cost, many eastern bidders like to buy more than one LP so savings can be made on overall postage costs. Give them time to peruse all your LPs and time to pay. If they pay for each buy individually then your Paypal costs will be higher.

*ED means "English Decca" NOT "edition" as many ignorant sellers seem to believe.  There are no HMV/Columbia ED1s!

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