Jackie’s Got a Brand New (and Very Expensive) Bag

First, a disclaimer. My intent has never been to use this blog to cover the “inside baseball” aspects of jazz record collecting. There are other blogs that already address those sorts of issues quite well. Nevertheless, a recent auction caught my attention—as well as the attention of many others, I’m sure—and I want to take a look at it.

Jackie McLean is one of my favorite artists, so I regularly watch eBay auctions for original pressings from his Blue Note discography. And as he began his association with Blue Note at the onset of the 4000 series (with 1959’s BLP 4013 New Soil, to be exact), original pressings often sell for surprisingly reasonable prices.

According to popsike.com, in auctions dating back to August 2005, the highest selling price for the 1960 album Jackie’s Bag (BLP 4051) was 547 GBP/768 USD in October 2013. A quick tally of the 10 highest prices (see below) shows a median price of $313.50. (In a data set such as this, it is better to use the median than the average, as it “controls” for extreme values at the top and bottom. In this case, the average is $410.10, which even a cursory look below reveals is a rather misleading summary of the data.)

Screenshot 2018-05-21 09.51.18
From popsike.com, the 10 highest selling prices for Jackie’s Bag.

Thus, for a number of years, the jazz collecting world has seen one of Jackie’s most desirable Blue Notes as a mid-“three figures” and definitely sub-$1000 item. Until yesterday, that is.

On May 10, Jackie’s Bag was listed as a 10-day auction, with the bidding stuck under $200 for the first week or so. (Not an original question, but why doesn’t everybody use a sniper these days?) However, on the final two days of the listing, the price began to soar (see below). The final selling price was a wallet-emptying $1237.12, or 61% higher (!) than the previous high water mark of $768.

Screenshot 2018-05-21 10.09.37
The record-setting auction for Jackie’s Bag.

As you can see in the table above, three different people placed bids for over $1000. Even if the winner had hit the ejector seat at $800, the album was still going to sell for over a grand, which amazes me. If this is the new normal, what, if anything, does it mean for other J. Mac releases from this era, like New Soil or Swing, Swang, Swingin’? Or his mid-sixties releases? Or for that matter, records by people like Donald Byrd or Lee Morgan?

If I had to wager, I’d say that this is probably a fluke, and a very happy one for the seller. He or she will certainly not be worried about the vagaries of “inside baseball.”

 

Is this the way the market is going or is this price an outlier without any further implications? Tell me what you think.

6 thoughts on “Jackie’s Got a Brand New (and Very Expensive) Bag

  1. Well, 1. It was a Jazz Record Center auction so that almosf immediately makes it an outlier since people pay more for those auctions, 2. It was a review copy, which people get excited about because they assume (I stress “assume”) it was pressed early in the stamper run (and at the same time they assume that these records will sound better than records pressed later in the run, but again this is an assumption with no factual evidence), and 3. It was described pretty much as mint, and I have found that there’s no limit to what truly mint originals can sell for.

    On a side note, it’s interesting to think about how things are really just worth what people are willing to pay for them. In light of this–and we all do it–it’s interesting to think about how we let what other people value records at shapes our own idea of what an item is worth. In all fairness though, we can’t have a idea of the general value of something without this process

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    1. Absolutely true regarding the “value” of things. And I think there is something to be said for the “50 year rule”, and I firmly believe that in 25-30 years, today’s “holy grail” records will lose much of their their value. As the—let’s face it—small number of jazz fans today becomes even smaller, an ever more minuscule slice of the population will remain to create a market for the hobby. Kind of what happened with the 78s market, or lack thereof, except for a tiny group.

      Similar things have happened in sports memorabilia, where the players who were stars when their fans become middle aged (mostly) men with a lot more disposable income to blow on their childhood fantasies. Then those people die and suddenly, a Joe DiMaggio artifact, as an example, is worth vastly less than it once was, which had seemed unthinkable just a generation earlier.

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      1. That’s interesting about the 50-year rule. I will say, however, that there are some differentiators between 78 collecting and LP collecting that I think are worth mentioning, things that I think may make LPs hold their value more in the long run. First, 78s are not high fidelity while LPs are, and second, the LP format is more accessible today, as most turntables don’t have a 78 setting. I do believe that record collecting won’t have an endless lifespan, but I do believe the strengths of the LP format over 78s will carry it much further into the future than 78s. But now that I have a turntable that plays 78s, I’m looking forward to starting a 78 collection, specifically of Monk’s Blue Notes! And I will very much welcome their much more reasonable prices. 🙂

        Regarding baseball cards, I was a collector myself in the ’90s when my father was a dealer, and if I’m not mistaken, that was a time where the market took a big hit. It seemed like it was booming in the early ’90s but by the end of the decade it seemed like the market dropped quite a bit. I think that was more with respect to newer cards, as the overprinted them, which caused their value to plummet, but I wonder if it was also true for older cards?

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  2. Also, regarding popsike and Jackie’s Bag, not sure why your search didn’t return these but there are two higher copies in my search results, one for $1136 in 2006 and one for $1236 just two days ago–and it’s not the JRC copy! What’s more, because JRC doesn’t list the album name in their auctions, if you search popsike for “Jackie McLean on Blue Note”, you see that JRC also sold a copy for $1225 last year.

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