Warning...a long response.
John C Fiset wrote:
>I need help and advice regarding the sale of my late father's classical
>record collection. ...
>Any advice on how I might sell this collection or how much it could be
>worth in today's market would be greatly appreciated.
You can search the ARSC list files for some good responses to your
question...as for my own...
Based upon my various experiences as a buyer for a second hand business,
a collector, an appraiser, and an archivist and librarian...
While Dave Canfield's "Canfield's Guide to Classical Recordings" is a
bit out of date...and Dave has sold his business...it is still a good
source for getting a sense of the fair market value of classical LPs.
Keep in mind that his price guide listed fair market value, but his
customer base, for the most part, was a large group of very informed
As for selling...the main consideration being, how much time do you have
versus how much do you value your time. There are several businesses
that are, in my experience (not all will share my perspective) reliable
and will probably be willing to buy the entire collection...Parnassus,
Princeton Record Exchange, Mikrokosmos (which, I believe bought Dave
Canfield's business) etc. A yahoo or google search will bring up many
other dealers. You can also check the dealer ads in the back of magazines
like Grammophone, American Record Guide and Fanfare.
If you want to sell it yourself, it can take time, but, there are many
online options, the most familiar being ebay...keep in mind the difference
in what a dealer will pay you, versus fair market value, versus your
time, and that using a service like ebay does not necessarily bring your
offerings directly to a select market...even if all the collectors I
know devote a part of their weekend to cruising ebay.
Another alternative... assuming you can find a 501 c 3 that is
interested and an informed appraiser, depending on your tax situation,
a donation might worth considering, especially if there are other items
in the estate that will be donated...hence, getting you to the point
where you can itemize your deductions. I have worked for appraisers,
as a subcontracter, on collections not donated to our institution, and
depending on many factors, condition, and value to collectors (which is
always changing), etc. have encountered collections where the average
fair market value has ranged from $1 to $10 a disc for classical LPs.
In my experience, a collection of 6,000 is likely to include a few higher
ticket items which will bring up the average. Not all "shaded dogs" and
"Living Presence" discs are created equal...nor are all Remingtons. A
collection of 6,000 discs devoted to multiple recordings of standard
repertoire is one thing, yet a collection devoted to less familiar
repertoire is another, as is a collection devoted to certain violinists,
or a collection of recordings of electronic music by the like of Pierre
An example might help...a record collector friend of mine recently passed
away. His widow checked with her lawyer and tax person and found that
a donation to a 501 c 3 would net her more than selling directly to a
dealer. For her, her time seemed to be worth more to her than any money
she could acquire selling on ebay.
Also keep in mind that the donation can be to any 501 c 3 that is
interested and that while libraries are perhaps the most logical places
to donate, some libraries will see such donations as being more trouble
than it is worth, and will end up selling the stuff for 25 cents each
at a book sale or in lots...it killed me when working for an unnamed
library, I was forced to unload, in a surplus sale, about 10,000 78s...we
got $10 for all of those discs. In the case of the widow mentioned
above, she ended up donating to my 501 c 3 record company. We have
volunteers willing to sell the CDs and LPs on ebay. Also, of interest
to us, was a large collection of broadcast tapes, some of which we plan
to release. It should also be mentioned, that as far as I know, the
fair market value of those tapes is limited to the value of the tape
itself, and not its contents. I can elaborate if you like...
In the days when I was buying for a dealer, I would pay a higher
percentage of the fair market value for the top dollar discs and would
only take a standard repertoire item, which may have sold in large
numbers, if it was the only way to acquire the entire collection which
might have some choice items. We used to have a bin where we would give
away the Cliburn Tchaikovsky First on RCA.
Hope this helps.
If you have anything on the Fennica label, let me know, I am still missing