Fabulous Finds: Rare Beatles 45 RPM Record
This Beatles 45 RPM record was released in 1963. It is scarce with an early combination of titles (“From Me to You” and “Thank You Girl”) along with a Vee-Jay label with bracketed logo. It sold for $300 in May 2016.
My “Fabulous Find” story begins with a caveat. We have to go back in time to the 1980s. Collectors looking for fabulous finds had a much harder time in the “old days.” They had to attend dealer shows, subscribe to club newsletters, travel to out of town antique stores and scour weekend flea markets. Special interest groups were necessary for networking and annual conferences (to buy, sell and trade). It was much different than today, with our proliferation of online auctions and dealer websites. Now, a simple Google search will usually lead you to that one item you need to complete your collection. That same item might have been considered rare before the Internet showed us we can find twenty of them—mailed to you from anywhere in the world.
So my fabulous find dates back to that time period, when a lot of footwork was involved in collecting. I was at a local tent sale, held at the outskirts of town, with an endless sea of card tables filled with junk—rusted farm implements, casserole dishes, used luggage, yellowed newspapers and beat-up G.I. Joe dolls interspersed with dozens of funnel cake stands. Not a fun venue, but I was on a quest for first edition Nancy Drew books. At one table, I thumbed through a box of $1 records—45s with no sleeves. Many were scratched and gritty, having been hauled across country to multiple outdoor sales. A few had “Property of Tammy” written in ink on the labels. I’d almost quit looking, but stopped at “From Me to You.” The flip side: “Thank You Girl.”
Published in February 1963, “From Me to You” was the third single released by the Beatles. It was popular in the U.K., but failed to make much of an impact in the U.S. because it appeared a full year before their famous American invasion. Since it didn’t sell well, relatively few copies were made. (After Beatlemania took the U.S. by storm, “From Me to You” was paired with a different flip side title and sold much better.) This record was actually in pretty good condition and the Vee-Jay label was early and undamaged, with brackets around the logo. Since it was the original U.S. release of the song, I figured I could probably re-sell it for around $25 and pulled out a dollar to pay. Thanks Tammy!
The Beatles released “From Me to You” in 1963. It wasn’t much of a hit in the U.S. and peaked at only number 116 on Billboard’s record chart.
A few days later, I looked it up in a price guide. (Although they are now obsolete relics of the past, price guides were once industry bibles.) I was surprised to see the record (in good condition) valued at $250. I held on to it for a few years, but my dealer itch eventually overcame any ownership desire. In the early 1990s I sold it for $270 at one of the very first online auction sites (an ad-hoc list of one-line descriptions with a long distance phone number to call in your bid).
Years later, when the Internet dominated the collectibles market, many items (like baseball cards, books, figurines, dinnerware, Victoriana and Coca-Cola merchandise) became easy to find and plummeted in value. I was pretty proud of myself for unloading the record when I did. But the Internet’s reach did more than just show us that many things really aren’t as rare as we once thought. It has also enabled us to learn which items really are desirable, at least for the time being. As it turns out, genuine Beatles memorabilia has actually retained its value and stays in demand today.
In researching this article, I expected to find that my tent sale purchase was now worth $45 or so. But I was startled to see that a copy in equal condition recently sold on eBay for $300. I pulled out that 25-year-old price guide and did some comparisons with WorthPoint’s Worthopedia database. In 2014 a Beatles lunch box and thermos sold for $430. The price guide value was $425-$450. Although there were a few exceptions, I found multiple examples of equivalent worth—for Beatles memorabilia as varied as clothes hangers, tea towels, nylon stockings, bow ties, record players, candy cigarettes and gumball machine charms.
Due to easy Internet availability, most collectibles have revealed themselves to be more common than once believed and have decreased in value. Beatles memorabilia, however, has remained stable. This lunchbox and thermos sold for $430 in 2014, equal to a 1990 price guide value.
When a collectible genre remains in demand, the unusually scarce items generally go up in value due to the Internet’s global availability to those with deep pockets. That early price guide valued a set of Beatles bongo drums in their original packaging at $600. They sold for $5,000 in 2015.
This set of Beatles bongo drums in their original box sold for $5,000 in 2015. They were valued at $600 in the pre-Internet days.
My fabulous find put a little profit in my business and I’m not sorry I sold it. But, more importantly, it also taught me that homework and proper identification are keys to finding the gem that others will overlook. I was lucky. I happened to know the history of that Beatles record and recognized it as unique. It’s a lesson I try not to forget.
Liz Holderman is a Worthologist and accredited appraiser who specializes in books and collectibles.
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