Some records can go for much more than a song, discovers NATALYA WILSON.

IT MAY once have been a treasured collection. But since cassettes, CDs and now the digital age of MP3s and music downloads, your stash of vinyl may have been forgotten and left to gather dust.

But amid your copies of the Bay City Rollers and Hammond Classics discs there could be some valuable vinyl.

Vinyl is not the first thing to spring to mind in terms of a big investment, but some discs are worth thousands of pounds. So if you know your Zappa from your Zep, and your Beatles from your Merseybeats, vinyl could be a valuable investment.

Auction houses have been known to sell vinyl collections – and even, on occasions, one record – for thousands and the number of record collectors is growing steadily as vinyl makes a resurgence.

Not surprisingly, big names usually command higher prices. Most of the LPs that spin the best prices are by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, according to Paul Lowman, who owns The Inkwell in Gillygate, York, which specialises in selling vinyl records.

“I’ve seen the price of vinyl go up enormously in the past two years – a record that was worth maybe £8 then could now be worth £14 or £15, for example,” he says.

“The most sought-after tend to be the classics, such as albums by The Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan, and certain Sex Pistols singles are worth a lot of money.”

Paul adds that certain genres and labels are particularly valuable, with some prog-rock albums being worth hundreds of pounds, and the first Black Sabbath album being of particular value, while Motown is also very sought-after.

He adds that older jazz and blues, rare 1950s and 1960s vinyl and 1970s rock albums also tend to be very solid investments.

“I’ve found that the records that keep their value most are those by The Beatles, as they appeal to every age group and the market for them is infinite,” adds Paul.

“They are a collectable band – people will buy the same Beatles record four or five times, depending on whether it’s mono, stereo, foreign, a first or second pressing. They are one band that you are guaranteed to sell.

“The White Album, for instance, is an interesting example. If it has all its ‘bits’ – black inner sleeves, open at the top, with the poster and four photographs and the lower the number on the front – the more valuable it is. First presses have been worth three- and four-figure sums – serious, serious money.”

So what do you need to look out for to know if your vinyl is valuable and will go for much more than a song?

“The crucial thing as a rule is scarcity – often the more obscure a record is, the more valuable it will be,” says Paul. Condition is also vital. Records in mint condition are worth far more than those with a few scratches and the state of the cover is crucial.

As a rule, earlier presses (which you can identify by looking at the matrix number) are more valuable, and the right ‘innards’ – inner sleeves, posters and booklets, make an album much more valuable, while signatures may also enhance value, and promotional copies, such as those issued to radio deejays and those in the music industry, can be worth a fortune.

It’s not only older records that can worth a lot. Different versions of LPs or box sets released by newer bands can be very collectible and hold their value.

“On the same day that these records are released, later in the day you can go on Ebay and they are already worth many times more than what their original price had been just a few hours earlier,” says Paul.

Paul advises that a good place to start for anyone interested in collecting vinyl would be to invest in a price guide, such as Record Collector Rare Price Guide.

“Vinyl isn’t a fad – I think there’s a lot of life left in collecting it,” he adds.

“It has outlived every other format and is still as popular as ever.”

Vinyl sub-culture

As a Northern Soul DJ, record collector and music producer, Jason Chinnian of There Was A Time sees the Northern Soul Scene is a “sub culture hotbed” for vinyl.

“Northern Soul is all about dancing and generally to original vinyl,” he says.

“DJs and collectors obsessively seek the rarest version of a soul record (a white label promo/demo or a rarer coloured label/UK issue as opposed to a US issue) and spend frightening sums of money in this pursuit. “Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) was auctioned a couple of years ago for a staggering £35,000,” he adds.

“Vinyl is also great investment, as well offering that warm analogue sound that all modern music producers are trying to create in the digital domain.”

He continues: “Many of the UK’s top Northern Soul DJs will have record collections worth tens of thousands of pounds. And some collections will go into the higher hundreds of thousands.

“However, the main concern for the Northern Soul scene is attracting younger people to it and to encourage them to start buying and collecting original vinyl. This is partly being combated through the Mod scene on a global scale but younger people are still very much needed to carry the torch forward.

“It is becoming fashionable to release vinyl with acid jazz and countless independent record labels are still pressing singles and albums. I just hope it becomes one of the expected routes to market and not just a trend.”