Yesterday, I had one of those days. The GF texted me and asked how it was going. I replied that I was out and about looking for treasure and I hadn’t found any yet. I didn’t know at the time, I was going to strike gold.
When I say looking for treasure, I’m just being really dramatic about my hobby: searching for CDs. I mean, if I can buy a CD from a thrift shop and it’s worth $5 online, I’m pleased. You’d be surprised how many CDs I buy that have a value of nothing. But sometimes that’s just because the CD is everywhere and it’s not valuable because it was made in such large quantities. Or maybe, no one likes it. My tastes are all over the place.
If you’re going to really get into CD collecting, you need to be knowledgeable. Duh, right? Well, not really. You can just collect stuff you like to listen to, or you can collect stuff that’s rare, or you can do both. But you need to know what’s rare and how to identify it to take advantage of it.
I hit a few thrift shops and picked up some CDs that were common and a couple that I’d never seen before but were identifiable as early CDs, which are valuable to the right person. And it doesn’t hurt that the music is all 80’s. I’d probably like it even if it was worthless.
Moving on, I made my last stop, at a flea market. I found one CD seller and he had SO many CDs. Well over a thousand, for sure. But they were fucking busted. Broken cases, dirty, some discs were damaged. But he made up for it in quantity and breadth. I did manage to snag some uncommon finds, including a target CD of ELP’s Pictures at an Exhibition. It’s reported to be a common target, but it has a printing error on it, so to a serious collector, well, they might get excited. The printing error makes it immediately rare. Like a double-struck coin.
As I was finishing up, I asked the guy if he bought these CDs in bulk or was it a personal collection. He said these were bought from all over the place, but he had his own collection, too. I thought it was a little odd to sell a target CD for so cheap instead of finding another collector who was willing to pay more. But there was little else he had that was remarkable, so maybe he really did know value.
Anyway, after looking at every CD there, I found another large CD seller, who had much better quality of product. As I worked my way closer to her and her register, she said, “lots of good stuff, especially in these stacks here.” I took my time and when I got to those stacks, I discovered she was right. As I was pulling first pressing CDs and stacking them up to buy, I asked, “Are you a collector?” She said she was and that she had a whole bunch of CDs of her own. And that’s when I realized I was a collector unlike other collectors.
This is the album I bought for $3 from her. This screenshot is from Discogs, a collector website.
One thing to note is the entry doesn’t show the album cover. It shows the disc face. The importance of this is so that other people do not log that they have this particular release in their collection based solely on the album cover. This disc is rare. How rare? 14 people have logged it and 60 want to buy it. But, those aren’t the interesting numbers.
The disc is also quite valuable. And I have one now that I bought for $3. It instantly became the most valuable disc in my collection, by a long shot. It’s kind of like an Antiques Roadshow moment. When I first saw the CD, I knew it was an early pressing because of the case. When I opened it, I thought, “Oh, it’s a Polar. Cool.” I’d heard about Polar pressings and they seemed a little mythological the way some talked about them, but I didn’t figure it would be that valuable.
So anyway, go me! My collection as ranked by Discogs is worth between $4,200 and $12,500, with a median value of $7,100. Feels odd when you’re buying CDs for $1-$5 each.