How to find the value of old record albums

Updated April 17, 2017

Record album enthusiasts have turned collecting old vinyl albums into a popular hobby and business in recent years. Collectors buy and sell albums online, as well as through newspapers and flea markets. Buyers covet rock 'n' roll albums such as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. Sometimes, they only want the album cover for framed displays. In addition to rock 'n' roll, collectors buy country, jazz, classical, holiday and Broadway musical records. Album value primarily depends on condition and availability.

Determine the genre of the album, for instance, rock 'n' roll, country, jazz, classical or Broadway.

Obtain an album price guide based on the genre of the album.

Determine the size and speed of the record. Speed options include 45, 78 or 33rpm (revolutions per minute). Size options include 5, 7, 10 and 12 inches.

Look at the album cover for damage and any markings. The record cover may exhibit a promotional copy stamp. Disc jockeys played these on the radio and the albums can exhibit scratches and wear. Sometimes radio stations used these albums as gifts; and those specimens might be in good condition. Promotional albums might feature small unknown bands with limited album sales, making them attractive to collectors.

Inspect the condition of the album. Collectors only want mint or near-mint albums. They do not want albums with scratches. If the album looks bad, the cover might still have value.

Determine if the album has a picture on it rather than black vinyl. Picture discs were limited productions and are worth more.

Observe the record label. Album production often occurred through different recording studios resulting in many album releases. New artists often use small recording studios with limited numbers of albums before a major recording studio buys their contract. First-run albums from a small studio fetch a good price.

Use the information collected above along with the price guide to determine the value of each album.


Do not open the album if the cellophane remains intact. Unopened records have greater value.


Be careful of albums that have been obtained from others. The album and album cover don't always match. It could have the same artist, even the same title, but a less rare title than the one that came with the cover. Some albums have numerous productions from several recording studios or even from the same recording studio, making it difficulty to determine price --- especially the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Things You'll Need

  • Record album price guide
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About the Author

Bruce Smith has written professionally since 1997. Some of his publications include "Plant Physiology," "American Bee," "Cell Biology and Toxicology" and "Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science." Bruce has a Bachelor of Science in horticulture from Penn State University, and a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Master of Science in information studies from Florida State University.