Elvis Presley Record Price Guide

 

 

Elvis Pres­ley Record Price Guide
O'Sullivan Wood­side, 1985

 

MY SECOND BOOK for record col­lec­tors was the 1985-1986 edi­tion of the Elvis Pres­ley Record Price Guide. Pub­lished by O'Sullivan-Woodside, it was the third Elvis price guide un­der the OW im­print. Ex­cept my book was rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent from the ear­lier edi­tions: I as­signed val­ues to the records that ac­tu­ally re­flected what they sold for in the mar­ket­place!

The biggest prob­lem with the ear­lier edi­tions were the ex­or­bi­tant val­ues as­signed to both rare and com­mon Pres­ley items. I sim­ply low­ered the as­signed val­ues of hun­dreds of ti­tles to bet­ter rep­re­sent the re­al­i­ties of the monies that changed hands be­tween buy­ers and sell­ers reg­u­larly.

Un­for­tu­nately, this sent many col­lec­tors who be­lieved the book — re­lied on the book — into a state of sticker-shock that took years to wear off! Need­less to say, this did not en­dear me with the Elvis deal­ers who liked the higher val­ues of the ear­lier books.

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NU_Elvis(OW)

The Elvis Pres­ley record Price Guide boasted one of my fa­vorite cov­ers on any price guide. The records were laid out on a huge roll of gold pa­per: the space that you see on the cover was ap­prox­i­mately 6 x 10 x 12 (six feet wide, ten feet high, and twelve feet deep).

This prob­lem was not that dif­fer­ent from the prob­lem that I had with the Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide. For the OW al­bum book that I had pub­lished months ear­lier in 1985, I had dealt with two big prob­lems:

1. The OW al­bum guides had thou­sands of list­ings for records with no col­lec­table value be­yond the price that they would fetch as used record store sta­ples.

2. The OW al­bum guides had a Bizarro World pric­ing struc­ture where com­mon records were over­priced, while rather rare records were un­der­val­ued!

I sug­gest you click on this link to Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide and read the ar­ti­cle there first, then re­turn here and con­tinue read­ing.

The Elvis Price Guide

The Elvis book did not have the first prob­lem: the pre­vi­ous edi­tions had done an ex­cel­lent job of doc­u­ment­ing most of the vari­a­tions on Amer­i­can press­ings of Pres­ley records. The prob­lem with the Elvis book was al­most en­tirely with the 'prices.'

The ma­jor­ity of the val­ues were ex­ces­sive. For the most part, the val­ues seemed to re­flect prices from two sources:

A. The panic-buying in the wake of Elvis's death in 1977. Any­one read­ing this who was in­volved in record col­lect­ing in the late '70s will at­test to buy­ers will­ing to pay any price to get their hands on any Elvis records. 

B. Many of those panic-buyers be­came ac­tive Elvis col­lec­tors, but they had lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion with the rest of the world of record col­lect­ing. This led to spe­cial­ized 'Elvis deal­ers' who re­al­ized these in­flated prices by sell­ing al­most ex­clu­sively to these in­ex­pe­ri­enced col­lec­tors.

For­tu­nately, this was a rel­a­tively easy is­sue to deal with in most cases: as I said, I sim­ply low­ered the as­signed val­ues of hun­dreds of over­priced ti­tles! Most of these 'real' val­ues were easy to as­cer­tain, as they were records that were bought and sold on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

As with the OW al­bum book, I was loathe to cause too much sticker-shock with the low­er­ing of val­ues. For the most part, I stayed with the sys­tem that I had used with the LP book and cut the val­ues of the over­priced Elvis records by no more than half (50%).

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My first book was the 1985-1986 edi­tion of the Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide. Yes, the garage sale is a staged photo, but it re­mains my fa­vorite cover on any of my books.

Fool me once, shame on you

Find­ing rea­son­able mar­ket val­ues for some of the truly rare and ob­scure pro­mo­tional items from the 1950s was a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. As part of my re­search, I bought a few of these high-priced records and then tried to re­sell them for 'book value.'

For ex­am­ple, I found a copy of RCA Vic­tor SP-33-10-P, an un­ti­tled pro­mo­tional sam­pler from Oc­to­ber 1958. This record in­cluded King Cre­ole and was there­fore of in­ter­est to some Elvis com­pletists, al­though it was of lit­tle in­ter­est to most Elvis fans.

I found the record at a col­lec­tors show in Los An­ge­les in early 1985. Dealer Kip Brown had it dis­played on the wall be­hind his ta­ble with an ask­ing price of $400. Kip told me that he re­ally wasn't sure of its worth, but he did what we all did back then: he took the OW book value, cut it in half, and bar­gained from there.

The pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the OW Elvis book had SP-33-10-P listed at $800, so Kip was ask­ing $400. But he had had the record for a while and no one was in­ter­ested, so he of­fered it me for what he had paid for it — a 'mere' $100!


A few of the '50s pro­mos were valu­able
but most of the records with only one Elvis track
were over­priced and dif­fi­cult to sell.


Hip-shaking King Creole

I knew sev­eral Elvis col­lec­tors who be­lieved every­thing in the OW Elvis books, and I as­sumed one of them would want this record. So I bought it.

Woe unto me!

Not one of those true-believers wanted to pay any­thing like 'book value' for the record.

I couldn't even get my hun­dred bucks back!

I even­tu­ally traded it for some items that I knew I could move. I re­al­ized a mod­est profit, but not enough to jus­tify the ef­fort.

This was not an iso­lated in­ci­dent; it hap­pened over and over again. While a few of the '50s pro­mos were truly valu­able and worth the OW book value, most of the rare records that fea­tured only one Pres­ley track were more in line with my ex­pe­ri­ence: over­priced and dif­fi­cult to sell.

Things haven't changed much in the in­ter­ven­ing years: the only copy of SP-33-10-P to sell on Ebay in the past ten years fetched only $53 in VG+ con­di­tion in 2014.

As I said, I did learn from my ex­pe­ri­ences and they af­fected the 'prices' I placed on many of the records in the Elvis Pres­ley Record Price Guide.

These lessons were later brought back home to me by a fa­mous state­ment from a fa­mous per­son: Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

Amen.

About my other books

There are eight ar­ti­cles on this site ex­plain­ing the var­i­ous books I pub­lished for record col­lec­tors. They are best read in the fol­low­ing or­der, which is roughly chrono­log­i­cal:

1. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide
2. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Elvis Pres­ley Record Price Guide
3. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (1st edi­tion)
4. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (5th edi­tion)
5. Goldmine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide
6. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Jazz Al­bums
7. A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Record & Mem­o­ra­bilia Price Guide
8. Blues and R&B 45s of the ’50s Price Guide

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