5 of the Most Valuable Records of All Time

5 of the Most Valuable Records of All Time

They Might Just Be in Your Own Collection

Ok, probably not. All of these albums are worth a lot of money because they are incredibly rare so the chances of one of them sitting in your living room next to that old pickup of yours are very slim. Still, it’s nice to dream every now and then.

1. Beatles “Yesterday and Today”

Beatles butcher cover

Photo Credit: Laurs via Flickr

Before you jump up in excitement thinking you have this album in your collection, you should read on. Only a few select records are actually valuable. This is a pretty well-known story as the album caused quite a sensation when it came out in 1966. The members of the band were reportedly bored with standard photo shoots and wanted to do something unusual. Then an opportunity came along for them to do a conceptual shoot where they were dressed in butcher smocks and were photographed holding various chunks of meat and decapitated doll heads.

It was definitely weird but the guys liked it. They liked it so much, in fact, that they pushed to use the pictures for the cover of their new album. The record company went along, but it only took the album one day of sales to create controversy regarding what is now known as the “butcher cover”. Afterwards the albums were summarily recalled and repackaged using another cover.

If you happen to have an original “Yesterday and Today” record with the “butcher cover” you can expect it to be worth a lot of money. How much exactly depends on the condition – it can be anywhere from a few hundred bucks to tens of thousands of dollars.

2. Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”

Sex_Pistols_in_Paradiso

Photo Credit: Anefo Nationaal Archief via Wiki Commons

Before it was included on their “Never Mind the Bollocks” album, the song was released as a single in time for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. We are talking specifically about the promotional single version that was released by A&M Records in 1977.

The partnership between the Sex Pistols and A&M didn’t last long; about a week, in fact. As soon as they were signed, the boys started making trouble around the company’s offices. A&M were certainly surprised with this kind of behavior (from a rock band? Outrageous!) and they cancelled their contract. However, by this time, around 25,000 records had already been pressed.

If all of them survived, the record would now make for an interesting story, but not a lot of cash value. However, most of the records have been destroyed. Reportedly, only up to 300 copies survived and these weren’t sold but rather given away to people who worked at A&M. One of those records in top condition could now go for as high as $20,000, especially if it still comes in its original brown envelope.

3. Bob Dylan “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”

Bob_Dylan and Joan Baez

Don’t get too excited if you have this album. It went platinum so many other people are likely to still have it in their collections. Plus, unless it is one of the incredibly rare original copies, it is not going to be worth a lot of money.

When the album came out, it included four tracks that weren’t particularly appealing (at least not according to Columbia Records). The decision was quickly made to replace them and the album was pulled from stores and four new songs were added to it. However, by this time multiple copies with the original track listing had already been sold.

One of those in mint condition was sold at auction for $35,000 so, even if they are in bad shape, they are still worth a lot of money. The four tracks from the original version that were eventually replaced are “Rocks and Gravel”, “Let Me Die in My Footsteps,” “Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand” and “Talkin’ John Birch Blues”.

4. The Quarrymen “That’ll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger”

Beatles_in_America

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Quarrymen, you might recognize three of their members: John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney. They would eventually be joined by Ringo Starr and form the most successful band in history, The Beatles.

But before the Beatles, though, there was the Quarrymen who also recorded an album. However, this recording session is so rare that unless you are Paul McCartney or one of his friends, you are unlikely to have it in your collection. This is because McCartney has the original recording which has been digitally remastered and several copies of it were pressed for his friends.

Up to 25 of these recordings are reported to exist and each one can be worth around $20,000 if they are still in good condition. The original recording, though, remains in Sir Paul’s private collection. Since it is one of a kind it’s pretty hard to decide its value, but it is estimated at around $200,000.

5. John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Double Fantasy”

John Lennon Yoko Ono in bed

Photo Credit: Nationaal Archief via Wiki Commons

This album sold over 4 million copies worldwide and only one of them is valuable. That copy, however, is worth over half a million dollars. Why is it so valuable? Because it was autographed by John Lennon himself. Well, ok, surely that increases the value of an item but Lennon autographed plenty of things, why would this be any different?

It’s true, Lennon’s signature is not enough to warrant the price tag. What also matters is the recipient of the autograph. Lennon signed this copy of “Double Fantasy” for Mark David Chapman, the man who only hours later would assassinate the singer.

Beatles memorabilia and murder memorabilia are two groups full of valuable items. When you take one item that falls under both categories, the value soars through the roof. Just the idea that Lennon unknowingly met his killer hours before his death and even signed an album for him is creepy enough, but it gets a lot weirder as there is even a photo of the incident showing Lennon signing the album next to an enthusiastic Chapman. When the album was sold at auction in 2003, it went for $525,000 (which is roughly $670,000 today).