After searching the Internet for the world's Top Ten Most Valuable vinyl records, one can be sure that the lists can be subjective, vary from country to country and will fluctuate over time. For instance, the copy of John Lennon & Yoko Ono "Double Fantasy" LP, the one that he signed for Mark David Chapman just a few hours before he was shot to death, is at the top of a common list. However, the record remains unsold, so the asking price may not be exactly what the record is worth. With the recent death of Michael Jackson, copies of "Thriller" were selling at more than three times what the record price guides listed and Jackson's rare vinyl has also skyrocketed. Although the prices for his more common records will even out, one can assume his rare vinyl will remain at high prices.
In all actuality, a record is worth what someone will pay for it; which is true of most collectibles. Many variables will effect the price, such as demand, the death of an artist, the condition of the vinyl itself, just to name a few. However, in the case of vinyl records, there are some recording artists that always show up on the 'top ten' lists, including the Beatles and the Sex Pistols. My guess is that there will always be a demand for the Fab Four and the Sex Pistols, hence the prices for their records and the rare ones will always be on the high end of any list. Also, the lists include acetates, which are another rare form of a record release.
If we take a look at the three lists below we see that the early Beatles work done as the Quarrymen show up on both the Wikipedia list and the list from the Telegraph in the UK. Also, the Beatles show up as the one that command the most money at www.popsike.com (according to their database).
Most Valuable Records Lists
The following list is an attempt to list some of the most valuable recordings. Data is sourced from Record Collector magazine, eBay, Popsike, Good Rockin' Tonight and other sources.
1) John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy (Geffen US Album, 1980) Note: Autographed by Lennon five hours before Mark David Chapman assassinated him. Value: $525,000
2) The Quarrymen - "That'll Be the Day"/"In Spite Of All The Danger" (UK 78 RPM, Acetate in plain sleeve, 1958) Note: Only one copy made. Value: $180,000
3) The Beatles - Yesterday and Today (Capitol, US Album in 'butcher' sleeve, 1966) Value: $38,500, though more typically prices range from $150-$7500
4) Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (CBS, US album, stereo 1963 featuring 4 tracks deleted from subsequent releases) Value: $35,000
5) Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hull - "Original Stack O'Lee Blues" (Black Patti, US 78 RPM in plain sleeve, 1927) Value: $30,000
6) Frank Wilson - "Do I Love You?" (Tamla Motown, US 7" 45 RPM in plain sleeve, 1965) Value: $30,000
7) Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground and Nico (US Album Acetate, in plain sleeve, 1966 with alternate versions of tracks from official release) Value: estimate $25,200.
8) Elvis Presley - Stay Away, Joe (US, RCA Victor UNRM-9408, 1967) Note: One side promotional album.
9) The Five Sharps - "Stormy Weather" (US, Jubilee 5104, 78 RPM, 1953) Value: $25,000
10) The Hornets - "I Can't Believe" (US, States 127, 78 RPM, 1953) Value: $25,000
Here is a list from the UK (note they do list several acetates, which are different from vinyl, these are very rare indeed!) and the two lists certainly are different and the estimates of worth vary.
1. THE QUARRYMEN: That'll Be The Day/ In Spite Of All The Danger (1958): £100,000 ($165,000)
2. SEX PISTOLS: God Save The Queen (1977) Value: £7,000 ($11,500)
3. SEX PISTOLS: Anarchy In The UK (1976) Value: £6,000 (double-sided acetate) ($9,900)
4. QUEEN: Bohemian Rhapsody (1978) Value: £5,000 ($8,250)
5. JOHN'S CHILDREN: Midsummer's Night Scene (1967) Value: £4,000 ($6,600)
6. TOBY TYLER: The Road I'm On (Gloria) (1964) Value: £3,000 (acetate) ($4,950)
7. DAVID BOWIE: Space Oddity (1969) Value: £3,000 ($4,950)
8 JOHN LENNON WITH THE PLASTIC ONO BAND: You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) (1969) Value: £3,000 ($4,950)
9. XTC: Science Friction (1977) Value: £2,500 ($4,125)
10. JACKIE LEE COCHRAN: Ruby Pearl (1957) Value: £2,500 ($4,125)
Now let's explore the Top Ten Vinyl Records that have been documented as sold by www.popsike.com, (although this does not include private sales between record collectors).
Beatles - White Album UK 1968 Mono LP Cover No.0000005 2008-11-23 ($31,700)
VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO 1966 Acetate LP ANDY WARHOL 2006-12-21 ($25,200)
SEX PISTOLS - God Save the Queen - GENUINE A&M AMS7284! 2006-03-02 ($20,900)
SEX PISTOLS God Save The Queen PUNK PRE A&M 2006-04-02 ($17,750)
SEX PISTOLS - God Save the Queen - GENUINE A&M AMS7284! 2006-06-30 ($16,500)
THE ROLLING STONES US 7" ST FIGHTING MAN PICTURE SLEEVE 2007-04-24 ($15,200)
SCARCE Northern Soul 45 Junior McCants KING RARE PROMO 2008-10-05 ($15,099)
Sex Pistols- Jamie Reid Complete Set LTD Edition Signed 2007-12-12 ($15,000)
THE MISFITS- PLAN 9 1009- HORROR BUSINESS ULTRA RARE 2008-01-26 ($14,301)
PINK FLOYD Meddle BLUE VINYL Colombia ULTRA RARE UNSEEN 2009-01-17 ($12,000)