Old Vinyl Records Value & Expert Identification Guide (2023)

Do you know that those old vinyl records stacked on each other in your shed can sell for a fortune? Yes, you heard me right!

In March 2018, the NYC Times reported that the US government sold Wu-Tang’s ‘Once-Upon-a-Time’ vinyl record for a staggering $2 MILLION!

Such high prices aren’t rare for old vinyl records because of their old make and signs. That’s why our grandparents insisted on storing them, even when we got CDs & Cassettes! So before you scrap & use old records for DIY art, let’s check how much they’re worth!

Key Takeaways

  • Antique features like grooves, tracks, liner notes, and styles will help you value your old vinyl record.
  • You can track your vinyl record’s age by checking the copyright marks, barcodes, matrix numbers, and dates on the label.
  • Pick exclusive birthday, first pressing, anniversary, or tour collection records for a limited-edition make.
  • Bored of the plain, black-colored records? Get printed, colored, or shaped vinyl records for better returns.

What Features Make an Old Vinyl Record More Valuable?

Vintage Vinyl Records with Grooved Tracks & Labels

Antique freaks love old vinyl records for their printed labels and signs. But that doesn’t necessarily make them ‘VALUABLE.’

To ensure that your vinyl record is old & collectible, look for the following features:

  • Polyvinyl chloride designs with grooves and waveform designs
  • Two playable sides with multiple tracks
  • 7,10 or 12-inch records, each with different speeds and revolutions
  • Warm, rich, and analog sound
  • Elaborate artwork, photographs, and liner notes on the surface

When & How Did Old Vinyl Records Evolve?

Old vinyl records date back to the 1930s. But history says that Emile Berliner made similar Shellac discs in the 1800s. It’s just that they were thin, with a low 78rpm (records per minute) speed.

Then, RCA Victor came up with the first commercial record in 1935. But it had smaller, 45 rpm tracks and 22 minutes of playing speed. Also, it was more for singles and single tracks.

For the next few years, makers worked on improving the playing time, and in 1950, they took it to 44 minutes. Now, they could fit into more genres like Pop, Rock ‘n’ Roll & Jazz. They also used printed labels, covers, and pop-culture stickers on them.

However, by the 1980s, Sony introduced the high-quality ‘Compact Disk,’ which won the market with its better audio, video, and playing time. And that’s how the vinyl records era ended, making them collectible today.

6 Main Types of Old Vinyl Records With Their Base Prices

Old Vinyl Record with 78 rpm Capacity

Let’s check out the six main types of old vinyl records as per their function and playtime below:

Old Vinyl Record TypesTop Identifying FeaturesYearEstimated Value
78 RPM (10 -12”)Grooved vinyl records with 3 – 5 minutes of playing time per side1930 – 1950$50 – 1200
33 ⅓ RPM (12”)Simple black label or picture discs with 22 minutes of playing time per side1948$100 – 1300, but rare ones can value up to $7000
45 RPM (7”)Small, single-track discs with encoded, low-frequency sound waves and tracks1949$10 – 950
Box Set RecordsCurated, 12-inch LP records, each with liner notes, posters, photographs, and wooden or leather-bound cases1960s$120 – 1300
EP Records (7”)Simple, narrow, and grooved records with low-frequency sound tracks and 2 – 4 song capacity1950$20 – 500
Maxi-Single RecordsGrooved, 3 – 5 song records with encoded frequencies & picture labels1970$10 – 200

7 Helpful Factors to Spot & Appraise Antique Vinyl Records

If you want to find out your vinyl record’s value, many factors like age, style & record genre will help you! So, let’s check them out below:

1. Old Vinyl Record Age & Marks

Old & Aged Vinyl Records on a Grunge background

Want to know if your record’s old & worth the ‘antique hype’? Just check if it has any of the aged signs below:

  • © or ‘p’ (phonograph mark) on the album covers or package
  • Bar codes, Label codes, or Deposito Legal codes on the stickers
  • Catalog number, Label matrix number, or Rights societies information on the outer rim
  • Runout matrix number, Pressing plant code or Studio numbers at the back
  • Singer initials, Dates, Logos, or Messages on the labels

Found the marks? Great! Now go on, and confirm the era-specific features from the list below:

Old Vinyl Record Years AgeHow to Identify? Featured ArtistsAverage Cost
1930s84 – 93 yearsSmall, 78rpm discs with a natural Shellac or resin finish, single track records, and wide groovesBing Crosby, Jimmie Rodgers, etc.$100 – 2000
1950 – 196063 – 73 yearsSimple 45 rpm or 33 ½ RPM records with early Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm, Country & Jazz tracksElvis Presley, Beatles, Miles Davis, etc.$20 – 1000
1970s44 – 53 yearsGrooved LP discs with 2-3 Rock, Funk, Soul & Disco tracksLed Zeppelin, David Bowie & Pink Floyd$20 – 900
1980s34 – 43 yearsLarge, 33 ½ rpm records with synthetic labels, photographs, and gatefold sleevesNew wave, Punk, Hip Hop & Rock$10 – 600

Old vinyl records with a 9 -12” size and single-side grooves are old & more valuable.

2. Vintage Vinyl Records Genre

Old Vinyl Record with its Original Cover & Sleeves

It’s true that the earliest 1930s records had simple devotional or festive songs. But then, by the 1950s, makers introduced more genres like Hip-Hop, Jazz, Country & Classical. So, let’s check the resale value of such themed Vinyl records.

Vintage Vinyl Records GenreFeatured Record LabelsEstimated Price
Acoustic, Beat Music & PunkColumbia, Apple Records, Warner Bros$20 – 600
Drama, Jazz, Ballroom & OperaRCA Victor, London, Blue Note Records, etc.$100 – 7000
Children’s Music, Hymns & MarchesDisney, Peter Pan Records, Columbia$10 – 500
Comedy & HolidayDecca, Warner Bros & Verve$10 – 300
Folk, Religious & DevotionalReprise, RCA Victor & Columbia$50 – 1500
Oldies, Pop, Rap & Hip-hopCapitol Records, EMI, Epic & Warner Bros$100 – 1000

3. Old Vinyl Record Edition

Old & Limited-Edition Vinyl Recods with Covers

Do you know some 1970s disks have original Elvis Presley & Alice Cooper recordings? No wonder such ‘First Pressing’ vinyl records cost more, even up to $1200. But that’s not all! There are so many other themed series – like Anniversary, Tours & Anthology!

And here’s a value guide to appraising each of them:

Old Vinyl Records EditionTop ArtistsAverage Value
Birthday or Anniversary EditionBeatles, Prince, Lucinda Williams$20 – 600
First Pressing or First EditionElvis Presley, Rush, Seal & Prince$10 – 1000
Promos & AnthologyPink Floyd, Seal, Rush & Beatles$50 – 1200
Tour EditionRolling Stones, Autograph & Slave$50 – 600
Limited & Special EditionCSeal, Beatles & Pink Floyd$20 – 500

4. Vintage Vinyl Record Country & Language

Old Vinyl Record on a Gramophone

Old Vinyl records with original American Folk music are more precious than those with Global or Heavy-metal tracks. Also, collectors pay more if they have regional language labels & packages.

So use Google Translator, check your record’s style & language, and compare the values below:

Old Vinyl Record LanguageAverage Cost
Hindi & Bengali$10 – 200
European – French, German, English, Spanish & Swedish$20 – 600
Asian – Chinese or Japanese$10 – 500
Russian$5 – 300
Turkish$5 – 200
Vietnamese$5 – 100

5. Antique Vinyl Record Colors

Different Types of Old Vinyl Record Colors

You all might know the typical black & gray records. But vintage vinyl records had so many other colors – gold, red, green & pink, each with different costs & labels. So, let’s check those details:

Old Vinyl Record ColorsAverage Cost
Black & Gray$40 – 1000
Beige & Brown$10 – 900
Blue, Green & Purple$10 – 500
Transparent & White$5 – 400
Red, Orange & Yellow$10 – 500
Metallic Gold & Silver$100 – 1500

6. Old Vinyl Record Surface Finishes

You might be surprised to know that makers didn’t use the same vinyl record for all their albums. Like, they used the 1930s colored disks for homes and the 1950s flexi discs for promotional albums. So each had different features that changed the value. Let’s see how!

Vintage Vinyl Record’s FinishHow to Identify? Estimated Cost
Colored VinylPressed, colored vinyl records, ranging from transparent to textured finishes$100 – 1500
Picture DiscsLook for discs with printed singer photographs or illustrations$60 – 900
Shape DiscsOval or Elliptical vinyl records with narrower edges$20 – 700
200 Gram PressingsHeavy, 120 – 140 gram discs with thicker sections and grooves$15 – 500
Flexi DiscsThin, Flexible, and easy-to-bend records with compact grooves$10 – 300

7. Rare & Valuable Vinyl Records

Did you know one of the original Beatles albums records with Ringo Starr’s drum track was valued at $790,000? Sounds crazy, right?

Well, the rarer & more popular the record, the more it costs! So don’t miss out on any original autographs and labels that might hike your vinyl record’s value.

Here are some rare vinyl records & their soaring prices:

Rare Vinyl RecordsLast Resale Price
Wu-Tang Clan: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin$2 million (2015)
John Lennon And Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy$900,000
The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) (1968)$790,000
Elvis Presley: My Happiness (1953)$300,000
Yesterday And Today By The Beatles (1966)$125,000
Do I Love You (Frank Wilson) (1965)$123,000
Caustic Window (Test Pressing)$36,300
Alcohol & Jake Blues (1930)$37,100
Velvet Underground And Nico Demo Acetate$25,200

Which Are Some of the Top-Selling Old Vinyl Records?

‘The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd, 1973),’ ‘Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1982),’ ‘Bodyguard (Arista, 1992),’ ‘Abbey Road (Beatles, 1969),’ and ‘Back in Black (AC/DC, 1980) are some of the top-selling vinyl records of all times.

Do Old Vinyl Records Last Forever? 

If maintained properly, old vinyl records last about 100 – 200 years before breaking.

Is It Okay to Touch Old Vinyl Records? 

You can touch old vinyl records on the outer edges or the labels. Avoid touching them on dead wax or tracks, as they might catch dust.

Can Paper Packaging Damage Old Vinyl Records? 

Yes, paper packaging can damage old vinyl records and lead to minor scratching or scuffing on the surface. Also, it might lead to trapped paper dust in the grooves, causing noise and disturbance. So better store your vinyl records in clean, plastic sleeves.

Do Old Vinyl Records Melt in Cars? 

Vinyl records usually have a high melting point of 200 Fahrenheit, but these might warp or deform when kept in cars for long.

If music is food for the soul, then different music antiques like Vinyl records, Reuge boxes, Pianos and Mandolins are the vessels. After all, they hold so many original records from revered musicians worldwide. So, use this guide to spot and value your old vinyl record’s features and ensure you don’t sell it for anything less!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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