Elvis Presley Record Price Guide (book)


THE SERIES OF ARTICLES about the books I have pub­lished have a loose chronology and nar­ra­tive that makes the most sense if read in this order:

1.  Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide (1985)
2.  Elvis Presley Record Price Guide (1985)
3.  A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Presley Price Guide (1990)
4.  Gold­mine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (1st edi­tion, 1991)
5.  Gold­mine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Jazz Al­bums (1992)
6.  Gold­mine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide (1994) 
7.  Gold­mine’s Price Guide to Col­lectible Record Al­bums (5th edi­tion, 1996)
8.  Blues And Rhythm & Blues 45s Of The ’50s (2000)


MY SECOND BOOK for record col­lec­tors was the 1985-1986 edi­tion of the Elvis Presley Record Price Guide. Pub­lished by O’Sullivan-Woodside, it was the third Elvis price guide under the OW im­print. Ex­cept my book was rad­i­cally dif­ferent from the ear­lier edi­tions: I as­signed values to the records that ac­tu­ally re­flected what they sold for in the mar­ket­place!

The biggest problem with the ear­lier edi­tions were the ex­or­bi­tant values as­signed to both rare and common Presley items. I simply low­ered the as­signed values of hun­dreds of ti­tles to better rep­re­sent the re­al­i­ties of the monies that changed hands be­tween buyers and sellers reg­u­larly.

Un­for­tu­nately, this sent many col­lec­tors who be­lieved the book—relied on the book—into a state of sticker-shock that took years to wear off! Need­less to say, this did not en­dear me with the Elvis dealers who liked the higher values of the ear­lier books.

This problem was not that dif­ferent from the problem that I had with the Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide. For the OW album book that I had pub­lished months ear­lier in 1985, I had dealt with two big prob­lems:

1.  The OW album guides had thou­sands of list­ings for records with no col­lec­table value be­yond the price that they would fetch as used record store sta­ples.

2.  The OW album guides had a Bizarro World pricing struc­ture where common records were over­priced, while rather rare records were un­der­valued!

I sug­gest you click on this link to Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide and read the ar­ticle there first, then re­turn here and con­tinue reading.

 

NU Elvis OW 300

The Elvis Presley Record Price Guide boasted one of my fa­vorite covers on any price guide. The records were laid out on a huge roll of gold paper: the space that you see on the cover was ap­prox­i­mately 6 x 10 x 12 (six feet wide, ten feet high, and twelve feet deep).

The Elvis Price Guide

The Elvis book did not have the first problem: the pre­vious edi­tions had done an ex­cel­lent job of doc­u­menting most of the vari­a­tions on Amer­ican press­ings of Presley records. The problem with the Elvis book was al­most en­tirely with the ‘prices.’

The ma­jority of the values were ex­ces­sive. For the most part, the values seemed to re­flect prices from two sources:

A.  The panic-buying in the wake of Elvis’s death in 1977. Anyone reading this who was in­volved in record col­lecting in the late ’70s will at­test to buyers willing to pay any price to get their hands on any Elvis records. 

B.  Many of those panic-buyers be­came ac­tive Elvis col­lec­tors, but they had little in­ter­ac­tion with the rest of the world of record col­lecting. This led to spe­cial­ized ‘Elvis dealers’ who re­al­ized these in­flated prices by selling al­most ex­clu­sively to these in­ex­pe­ri­enced col­lec­tors.

For­tu­nately, this was a rel­a­tively easy issue to deal with in most cases: as I said, I simply low­ered the as­signed values of hun­dreds of over­priced ti­tles! Most of these ‘real’ values were easy to as­cer­tain, as they were records that were bought and sold on a reg­ular basis.

As with the OW album book, I was loathed to cause too much sticker-shock with the low­ering of values. For the most part, I stayed with the system that I had used with the LP book and cut the values of the over­priced Elvis records by no more than half (50%).

Finding rea­son­able market values for some of the truly rare and ob­scure pro­mo­tional items from the 1950s was a dif­ferent matter. As part of my re­search, I bought a few of these high-priced records and then tried to re­sell them for ‘book value.’

For ex­ample, I found a copy of RCA Victor SP-33-10-P, an un­ti­tled pro­mo­tional sam­pler from Oc­tober 1958. This record in­cluded King Creole and was there­fore of in­terest to some Elvis com­pletists, al­though it was of little in­terest to most Elvis fans.

I found the record at a col­lector show in Los An­geles in early 1985. Dealer Kip Brown had it dis­played on the wall be­hind his table with an asking price of $400. Kip told me that he re­ally wasn’t sure of its worth, but he did what we all did back then: he took the OW book value, cut it in half, and bar­gained from there.

The pre­vious edi­tion of the OW Elvis book had SP-33-10-P listed at $800, so Kip was asking $400. But he had had the record for a while and no one was in­ter­ested, so he of­fered it to me for what he had paid for it—a mere $100!

 

NU Rock OW 300 copy

My first book was the 1985-1986 edi­tion of the Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide. Yes, the garage sale is a staged photo, but it re­mains my fa­vorite cover on any of my books.

Hip-shaking King Creole

I knew sev­eral Elvis col­lec­tors who be­lieved every­thing in the OW Elvis books, and I as­sumed one of them would want this record. So I bought it.

Woe unto me!

Not one of those true-believers wanted to pay any­thing like ‘book value’ for the record.

I couldn’t even get my hun­dred bucks back!

I even­tu­ally traded it for some items that I knew I could move. I re­al­ized a modest profit, but not enough to jus­tify the ef­fort.

This was not an iso­lated in­ci­dent; it hap­pened over and over again. While a few of the ’50s promos were truly valu­able and worth the OW book value, most of the rare records that fea­tured only one Presley track were more in line with my ex­pe­ri­ence: over­priced and dif­fi­cult to sell.

Things haven’t changed much in the in­ter­vening years: the only copy of SP-33-10-P to sell on Ebay in the past ten years fetched only $53 in VG+ con­di­tion in 2014.

As I said, I did learn from my ex­pe­ri­ences and they af­fected the ‘prices’ I placed on many of the records in the Elvis Presley Record Price Guide.

These lessons were later brought back home to me by a fa­mous state­ment from a fa­mous person: Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.

Amen.

My other books

There are eight ar­ti­cles on this site ex­plaining the var­ious books I pub­lished for record col­lec­tors. They are best read in the fol­lowing order, which is roughly chrono­log­ical:

1.  O’Sullivan Woodside’s Rock & Roll Record Al­bums Price Guide
2.  O’Sullivan Woodside’s Elvis Presley Record Price Guide
3.  Goldmine’s Price Guide To Col­lectible Record Al­bums (1st edi­tion)
4.  Goldmine’s Price Guide To Col­lectible Record Al­bums (5th edi­tion)
5.  Goldmine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide
6.  Goldmine’s Price Guide To Col­lectible Jazz Al­bums
7.  A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Record & Mem­o­ra­bilia Price Guide
8.  Blues And R&B 45s Of The ’50s Price Guide