This is one of several titles in the Miller’s Collector’s Guide series, which is generally devoted to various categories of antiques.
How up to date?
The first thing that struck me about it was that it was published in 2002. Not only is it still in print, but there is no more recent edition available. The impression I have is that prices for vinyl records have not risen over recent years, partly as a result of so much material being reissued on CD or available on downloads thus chipping away at the desirability of the original artefacts, partly as the value of collectables in general has been depressed somewhat by the recession – vinyl junkies have less disposable cash than they did a few years ago – and partly as eBay and other internet sites have replaced the need to go hunting down those elusive gems at records fairs, or scan many pages of small print ads in ‘Record Collector’, which was more or less essential at one time.
As a valuation guide, therefore, this book is flawed from the start. So, as any serious and knowledgeable collector will tell you, is the much-hallowed (and far more expensive) ‘Record Collector Rare Price Guide’. But if you regard it less as a book for values, take the title more literally in a general way, and don’t object to the omission of what may be some of your favourite artists from the ten-page index, it will do the job nicely. Having said that, a book on modern popular music which omits any reference to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Iron Maiden and Motorhead (and, horror of horrors, has an index entry for ‘Jerry, Mungo’) has a few gaps to fill.
The book itself
But enough of the negatives. In 200 pages, no book could possibly list all the rare records to collect as well as guide you away from the stuff which is too common to bother with unless you really adore it, but it does provide quite a comprehensive guide to what’s hot and what’s not – or what was in 2002, anyway. It also gives suggested price guides for certain items in sterling and US dollars, underlining the fact that certain records are worth a king’s ransom on one side of the Atlantic but are distinctly so-so on the other. To take two extreme examples, The Penguins’ ‘Earth Angel’, a doo-wop classic from 1955, was a hit in the USA but did nothing over here, where it is recognised as one of Britain’s five rarest records with a price tag of £2,000 or more for gold label lettering and a triangular push-out centre. (These minor details, like condition, are all-important). On the other hand, during their heyday around 1972-4, Osmonds’ records flew out of the shops, but even in mint condition they are still only worth single-figure sums as so many were pressed. Obscure flops are far more desirable than easy-to-find hits of yesteryear, and from the late 1950s when 7” singles played at 45 rpm co-existed with the far more easily breakable 10” shellac artefacts playing at 78 rpm, the 7” versions are more highly sought-after.
Let me mention that this book does not just cover pop and rock.