With vinyl record sales surging to the point that pressing plants can't keep up with public demand comes increasing interest in the value of vintage records.
But first, here's the ugly truth: most country albums aren't all that valuable. If an artist is famous, that typically means there's a lot of copies still in circulation. Someone like Willie Nelson might be terminally popular, meaning that many of his albums only fulfill the collectable half of the rare and collectable puzzle. Likewise, some releases by unknown artists from tiny labels are rare, but the lack of demand for their music --fair or not-- keeps your treasures from being all that collectable. It's as if collecting what you like without sweating resale value is the key to record-collecting happiness.
There are exceptions to the above rules, though, as shown below. Some household names have records worth a filthy amount of money, and a few obscure private press finds might have surprising resale value.
Keep in mind that anything you want to sell is ultimately worth whatever the highest spender is willing to pay, and this isn't necessarily a roadmap to retiring early or paying off student loans. Also, the market changes over time, even for rarities by legendary acts. The numbers for these eight examples should be reliable enough, though, as they are based on collectors haven Discogs' median sale price-- meaning this is the average spent on a specific pressing, even if the copy isn't in pristine condition.
1. Jim Reeves' Sings (1955)-- $300
This one's an odd sight because Reeves' major-label LPs are as common in dollar bins as the albums of Barbra Streisand and Andy Williams. Yet some of the earlier material by the silky-voiced country crooner can sell for a pretty penny. Take for example this full-length by Abbott Records, the Hollywood label with Reeves and Johnny Horton releases in its discography.
2. George Jones' Country Song Hits (Starday Records Pressing, 1956)-- $110
This one's another reminder to keep in mind that there's often multiple different pressings or variants of the same album. Discogs lists six versions of this one, with values ranging from a 1956 original that can fetch over $100 to a 2013 repress that's more in the $30 range.
3. Marty Robbins' Rockin' Rollin' Robbins (1956)-- $300
Canadian and Brazilian pressings of this 10-inch rockabilly album by future country crooner and NASCAR racer Robbins sell for as $300 or more. It's an outlier in the catalog of an artist whose releases --as great as most may be-- are typically far from being rare and collectable.
4. Waylon Jennings' At J.D.'s (1964)-- $200
The first two pressings of this often-reissued set of songs terminally set collectors back somewhere between $150-300. It's a case of something being collectable because of the artist and truly rare, with just 500 copies apiece of the first two pressings ever hitting the market.
5. Micky Gilley's Lonely Wine (1964)-- $120
Before putting together a catalog of far-from-rare albums for Playboy and Epic, Gilley self-released this obscurity through his own Astro Records-- which has a catalog of obscure and sought-after country and rock 45s by a variety of Texas artists.
6. David Allan Coe's Requiem For a Harlequin (1973) -- $350
Coe's early material on Shelby Singleton's SSS International label eludes collectors who're willing to spend more than $50 for debut album Penitentiary Blues (1969) and seven times that for its follow-up.
7. Wild Country's Self-Titled 1976 Debut -- $200
Even the most casual fan will recognize three of the band members in these Olan Mills-style portraits. Wildcountry was one of the names tried out before cousins Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen and Jeff Cook settled on Alabama. The two Wildcountry albums are extremely rare, with sophomore effort Deuces Wild (1977) selling for a similar price.
8. Suzy Bogguss' Suzy (1981) -- $100
Another pre-fame and pre-big label release that's a great white buffalo for country vinyl fiends, Bogguss' first LP was issued by an independent label out of Dunlap, Ill. It predates her mainstream breakthrough by eight years.
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