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Record stores say discovery of rare 45-rpm hard to duplicate

Last week’s news about the St. Paul record collector who scored big on eBay with an old, scratched 45-rpm record — $10,323 worth of big — might have sent many scurrying to the attic to search for similar gems.

But apparently not many were found. At least folks aren’t showing up in droves at local record stores trying to sell their old 45s.

The story involved St. Paul music collector Tim Schloe, who found a rare, Sun Records single in a large collection he bought from the brother of a deceased Texas collector. So, he paid about quarter for the 45 and ended up raking in $10,323 for it through an eBay auction.

The 1953 record was bluesman D.A. Hunt’s rendition of “Greyhound Blues” — with “Lonesome Old Jail” on the flip side.

While it raised some eyebrows — as well as Schloe’s bank account — it hasn’t brought lots of traffic to the used-record desks.

“I haven’t noticed a big increase,” said Pat Wheeler, manager at the Cheapo/Applause store in St. Paul. “That was kind of a fluke, an extremely rare record on the Sun label. That’s … not going to happen too often.”

No big rush of vinyl sellers at Disc Go Round in Duluth, either, said Devin McKinnon, who was amazed that the disc drew a 10-grand bid even though it was scratched and didn’t play all the way through.

Rare records like that are few and far between, he said. “But I’d love to come across a $10,000 album. That would be amazing.”

At the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, Chris Hall is quick to point out that the used-record business “isn’t exactly like ‘Antiques Road Show,’ where everyone thinks they’ve got a treasure in the attic.”

“We have gotten a lot of used vinyl in the past few years, but we see a lot of the same stuff: mostly old records that sold a lot of copies,” he said. “Rare 45s are like hen’s teeth.”

When Michael Jackson died, there was a big rush to buy his records, and copies of the “Thriller” album were going for $200 to $300 on eBay, Hall said. But only for a day or two.

“There were something like 40 million copies of Thriller sold internationally; everyone had a copy. You could find one at any thrift store for a dollar or two, but it’s a subjective thing. Some people had to have a copy right then,” Hall said.

One rare album that surfaces occasionally is the Beatles’ “Yesterday … and Today” from 1966. It was first issued with the so-called “butcher cover,” with the Liverpool lads wearing butcher’s jackets and sitting with meat and baby-doll bodies and heads.

“It was on the shelf a couple days in some markets. Then they pulled the record and put out a different cover,” Hall said. In some cases, new covers were stuck right over the old ones. Those originals can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on condition, he said.

“I saw one once, with the sticker of the new cover over the old one, but the guy had taken the new sticker off, so it wasn’t worth as much,” he said.

As one of the commenters on the Pioneer Press story said:

“I should have hung on to some of my old 45s.”

Said another: “Yeah, and my Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle baseball cards … oh, well, it’s off to work.”

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