For the record, don’t bobble along to a country auction if you’re likely to drift too far from the Shaw (George Bernard, that is)


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Nowadays, if you want to be an antiques dealer, the only qualifications you need are dirty trainers, greasy hair, a limp, a walking stick and a bank account regularly replenished by the benefits office …

But back in the day when dealers were all as knowledgeable and honorable as Lovejoy I found a 78rpm shellac recording of George Bernard Shaw reading Spoken English and Broken English. He’d scratched his name onto either side of the disc in the run-off groove.

So, being a proper purveyor of paraphernalia and curiosities and not some waddling unmarried grandmother buying anything for a pound in a charity shop expecting it to be worth hundreds, I phoned the George Bernard Shaw Society.

I could see this immaculate recording of a BBC radio show from 1927 being worth hundreds if not thousands – the icing on the cake so to speak.

Anyway, the GBS society soon disavowed me about its value by saying “it’s a wonderful thing to own but any real GBS fan already has one, so it might be worth £20”.

Still, true antiques dealers travel ever-hopeful – not for us  a bus pass and a tartan pull along shopping basket – so I went through my contacts book and found a far-flung country auction of questionable practices in the wilds of Shropshire and phoned them. We had a chat, I told the auctioneer – who by coincidence had a second-hand mobility scooter – what I had and the thousands I thought it might possibly have been worth. He recommended I put a reserve of £400 on it, which, on his advice, I did.

And so to the day of the auction … I was tending to my mullet hairdo in the my La Maison-chic bathroom mirror when my Chocolate and Cream GPO 746 bell telephone began ringing off the wall. It was the auctioneer calling on his second-hand Nokia.

He couldn’t have apologized more, saying that he’d dropped my George Bernard Shaw shellac and smashed it – “but don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll give you your full reserve on it.”

I thanked him profusely but it was a good job he couldn’t see my impression of a Jeremy Clarkson smug face down the telephone … I’d sold something I got for nothing which was worth possibly £20 for £400 after all!

And do you know, I couldn’t help thinking that the country auctioneer  hadn’t broken my record at all … just like I had done, he thought it was worth thousands and at £400 he thought he’d got a bargain!

And do you know what else? I felt quite virtuous because now that the expectation of the value of the record had rocketed I realized not one bargain hunting, limping,  jobless bobble hat wearing pretend dealer would be hurt in the making of that deal … they couldn’t afford it!

antique-440337_960_720So, old records, mainly vinyl it has to be said, are so on trend now that many are no longer cheap as chips but as Will Thomas managing director at  , said: “It’s clear the vinyl records that are worth the most are the ones which have been owned by a celebrity or were made in limited numbers, as with most things, the rarer the item is the more valuable it is.”

LoveAntiques and vinyl specialist and record shop owner Phil Barton have come up with this list of how to get rich by keeping your eyes and ears open for a record buy!

  1. White Album by The Beatles originally owned by Ringo Starr – £730,876.Ringo Starr sold his copy of the ‘White Album’, last year at auction for $910,000, which was the first pressing.
  2. That’ll Be The Day by The Quarrymen – £100,000.The 1958 original is the only known copy of the pre-Beatles disc recorded at a local electrical shop by McCartney, Lennon and Harrison with drummer Colin Hanton and pianist John Duff Lowe.
  3. Love Me Do by The Beatles – £80,500.There is only one known pressing of the one-sided acetate.
  4. Music For Supermarkets by Jean Michel Jarre – £10,000 – £30,000.In 1983 Jarre made 1 copy of this album and then destroyed the master tapes.
  5. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson – £25,000.Only 2 originals have ever surfaced on the Motown label offshoot Soul.
  6. God Save The Queen by Sex Pistols – £12,000.Before they were kicked off the A&M label about 300 of these were pressed making this record very rare.
  7. Would You Believe by Billy Nicholls – £10,000.Only 100 copies of this 60’s psych/folk/rock album  were manufactured.
  8. Please Please Me by The Beatles – £7,500.It’s important when buying Beatles albums to check the matrix numbers that are cut into the run off groove. These numbers will allow you to work out which pressing you have.
  9. Kind Hearted Woman Blues by Robert Johnson – £7,000.Only two photographs of him exist and his 78  records are just as rare, especially those released on the Vocalion label.
  10. Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love With My Car by Queen – £5,000.The EMI special edition of the single was also an invite to a company event. For this reason, the 7” record came with matches, a pen, a ticket, a menu, an outer card sleeve, a scarf and an EMI goblet.
  11. Pride by U2 – £5,000.It was originally pressed in Australia on clear vinyl, coloured vinyl is extremely collectible especially when only 5 copies were made, like with this U2 album.
  12. Midsummer Night’s Scene/Sara Crazy Child by John’s Children – £4,000.The single was pressed on 7” vinyl but for some reason was never released.
  13. Latch On/Only A Daydream by Ron Hargrave – £3,000.There are only six UK copies known to exist.
  14. Led Zeppelin’s 1969 first album – £3,000.Led Zeppelin’s first vinyl album is very common, however the initial pressing had turquoise lettering of the band’s name on the front cover.
  15. Love Me Do/PS I Love You by The Beatles – £3,000250 demo copies of this 1962 7” single contained the misspelling, ‘McArtney’.
  16. Space Oddity/Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud by David Bowie – £3,000.Only a couple of copies of the 7” single with an unreleased picture sleeve are known to exist.
  17. Tinkerbells Fairydust LP by Tinkerbells Fairydust – £3,000. Tinkerbells Fairydust recorded this   album for Decca, but it was never released. It had extremely unusual packaging and a laminated front sleeve with a mono stereo ‘peephole’ on the back.
  18. Erotica by Madonna – £2,000.Picture discs are  very collectible and when Madonna released this album in 1992, it was quickly withdrawn from sale because the toe-sucking image on the cover coincided with similar stories involving Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
  19. Love is Strange by Wings – £1,500-£2,000.“Love is Strange” was due to be released as a 7” from the Wildlife album, however Paul McCartney changed his mind at the last minute.
  20. Tudor Lodge by Tudors Lodges – £1200.This is their one and only album and was released on the legendary Vertigo label.


Consumer Watch Foundation

One thought on “For the record, don’t bobble along to a country auction if you’re likely to drift too far from the Shaw (George Bernard, that is)

  1. So my dozen or more old vinyls are worth zilch? They stand at the bottom of our 70’s radio/record player like a pack of parsimonious pensioners wondering when they will come back in fashion.

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