Vintage 45 rpm records

vintage 45 rpm records

What of the term ‘vintage’?

Vintage is a term bandied around by all sorts of groups of collectors. For example, in the case of cars, a vintage car was one built in a very narrow range of years.

Of course, the term is most often and perhaps most memorably used in the context of wine.

In essence, the vintage of a wine refers to the year its grapes were harvested. However, due to variables such as the weather, wine of a good vintage may be younger than one considered a bad vintage. Also, wines from different grapes, grown in different regions are more or less likely to be considered vintage.

And so to vintage 45 rpm records

In the case of 45 rpm records, I’m going to take a leaf from the wine lovers’ book and say that a vintage 45 is one of a particular era, by a particular band or artist. Antique dealers would consider items at least 40 years old as being vintage. As a rule of thumb, this means that any single from 1983 or earlier would be a vintage 45 rpm record.

My own vintage 45 rpm records

By this reckoning, I own a few vintage 45 rpm records. Perhaps the most collectable of them is Ghost Town. Released in 1981, this is The Specials’ lament to the destruction they saw being wrought by the policies of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK.

Also included in my collection, is a 7-inch single that is actually a 33⅓ rpm record. Collected on Brazilian import, I own Men At Work’s 1981/82/83 hit, Down Under. Originally released in 1981 it was a slow burner. It reached number one in Australia in December 1981 before reaching the top of the charts in New Zealand in February 1982.

It took a further eight months to ascend to the top of the Canadian chart in October 1982 before making number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 in the UK singles chart in January and February 1983.

The collectability of vintage 45 records

Of course, just as with wine, whether a particular 45 rpm record can be considered vintage is subject to the vagaries of opinion and taste. Whether a vintage record is worth a lot of money is subject to the rules of supply and demand. So, condition and rarity also come into play in determining this.

And this is probably where my clutch of vintage 45 rpm records becomes less collectable. Because I bought them as a spotty teenager and played them and played them, they are probably not in the best condition. Coupled with my habit of scrawling my name and the date of purchase on them, I don’t suppose that I am going to be a rich man any time soon.

Just to confess, here… I have perhaps been conflating the word vintage with value. They are not the same thing. For example, the average value of ‘Elvis Presley 45’ rpm records is, according to US $16.50. The term ‘Beatles 45’, on the same website, delivers a slightly higher average value of US $17.70.

As a final arbitrary comparator, [The] ‘Sex Pistols 45’ yields an average value of over US $25.

So, here we see the phenomenon of supply and demand. Yes, demand is high for The Beatles and Elvis and The Rolling Stones, The Monkees and so on. But their catalogues are so much larger than The Sex Pistols that overall, their average values will be lower.

Examples of high-value vintage 45s

Having said that, let’s consider a pair of 45 rpm records that have sold for thousands of dollars.

The Beatles – Ask Me Why/Anna (Go To Him)

Ask Me Why was recorded on November 26, 1962. A McCartney-Lennon (sic) original composition, it was featured on the Fab Four’s debut UK album, Please Please Me, and as the B-side to Please Please Me, their third UK single and debut US single.

Anna (Go To Him) was recorded on February 11, 1963, also for their UK debut album, Please Please Me. This was a cover of a track written and originally recorded by Arthur Alexander.

The pair were put together in the US by Vee-Jay Records (the original US record label for The Beatles) in 1964 as a promotional 45. There were, it is suggested, only 5 copies ever pressed. It was intended purely as promotional material and was never released commercially.

The disc was sold by Heritage Auctions of Texas, on July 24, 2012, for a figure of $35,000.

Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)/Sweeter as the Days Go By

There are Northern Soul* songs and there are Northern Soul songs. This one, by US singer, songwriter and producer, Frank Wilson, although considered a good track, is not one of the greatest tracks of the genre. For that, think of R Dean Taylor’s There’s a Ghost In My House or the unrelated Al Wilson’s The Snake.

What makes Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) such a collectable item is its rarity. Wilson’s abiding passion was producing so this was his only Motown single as a singer. Coupled with the alleged lukewarm reception it received from Berry Gordy, all bar a handful of its 250 demo pressings were destroyed.

As reported in Antiques Trade Gazette, one of the handful was sold at auction on 29 April 2009 by John Manship in Leicestershire, England. Although it went for less than had been predicted, it still reached a whopping £25,742 (around US $38,000 at the time).

*although Soul/Motown is a US phenomenon, Northern Soul is a particularly British one. It originated in the UK mod scene of the 1960s and features high-tempo tracks by lesser-known US artists released by American labels such as Vee-Jay Records, Chess Records, Brunswick Records and others. Generally, Motown or Motown music which has had mainstream success is passed over in favour of the likes of Frank Wilson.

If you’ve anything to add to the debate or you just want to let me know what you think of my post, please do so below.

Furthermore, if you love what you've read, please tell your friends.

4 thoughts on “Vintage 45 rpm records”

  1. Hey, vintage 45 rpm records hold a special place in the hearts of many music enthusiasts, including myself. There’s something undeniably charming about holding a vinyl disc, carefully placing it on the turntable, and hearing the nostalgic crackle before the music begins.

     I’ve spent countless hours digging through crates at record stores and flea markets, searching for that elusive gem or a rare pressing of a favorite song. 

    The artwork and labels on these records often tell a story of their own, capturing the essence of a bygone era. It’s a tangible connection to the past, and the warm, analog sound of these records is truly unparalleled. There’s an undeniable magic in the way they bring music to life, making vintage 45s a timeless treasure for music lovers of all generations.

    • Great comment Jake and thank you for it. Yes, when you enter the world of the crate-digger, all sense of perspective blows away with the wind. I must have that pressing of that record at all costs!

      Vinyl is a great nostalgia prompter. I remember exactly what I was doing, which store I was in and so on when I bought each and every one of my collection.

      Vinyl is tangible, isn’t it? You have something to hold onto, to love and to cherish. 

  2. Hmmm thanks for this article about vinyl vintage! Yes, indeed, vinyl records have become a subject of collections. I didn’t even know that they were so valuable on the market! My mother nearly threw away my sister’s vinyl 45s collection (she’s born in 1975 so she still had those when she was a child). And she has the vinyl record of Thriller! Can you imagine the value of this record today? Insane!

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure what the value of your copy of Thriller would be, but I have written an article suggesting how you could go about finding what condition it is in and consequently how much it might be worth. I know that signed copies of Thriller have sold for over a thousand dollars.


Leave a Comment