The mid-year 2019 report from the Recording Industry Association of America concluded that vinyl is on track to outsell CDs, with a 13% increase in sales compared to the previous year. Amidst the burgeoning vinyl boom, NobleOak, an Australian life insurance company, worked with Ian Shirley, the editor of Record Collector magazine’s Rare Record Price Guide, to determine the 50 most valuable vinyl records worldwide.
The Quarrymen, (Pre-Beatles) consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as well as pianist John Lowe and drummer Colin Hanton, topped the list. Their 1958 demo recording of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day,” and an original song penned by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, “In Spite of All the Danger,” is valued at $354,000. There is only one copy of the record in existence, which McCartney purchased from Lowe for an undisclosed sum back in 1981.
The Beatles make a number of appearances on the list:
01. The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day / In Spite Of All The Danger ($354,000)
02. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ($123,900)
07. The Beatles – The Beatles (White Album) ($17,700)
09. The Beatles – Yesterday And Today ($14,160)
12. The Beatles – Introducing The Beatles ($12,390)
13. The Beatles – Please Please Me ($10,620)
29. John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Unfinished Music No. 1. Two Virgins ($5,310)
Asked what makes a record collectible, Shirley explains that the key factors are “scarcity, condition and the desire of someone to own it.” Several of the records on the list were quickly pulled because of controversial cover art, making them highly sought-after for their rarity.
Other in-demand records range from “psychedelic single[s] from the ‘60s that no one was interested in at the time” to mint, unplayed copies of records that sold in the millions.