This guide serves as a preamble to my other guides which are categorized chronologically by album. In these guides, I give an issue date, release location, and a monetary value of what an item is worth to a collector. This value only applies to an item that is in perfect mint condition, i.e., it has to be factory sealed. If the seal on a vinyl album is broken just enough to remove the album to see what it and the liner looks like for an accurate description, the value drops only slightly as it is still in mint condition--unless you damage it during handling. It must also include everything that came with it from the factory, like a sticker sheet for example. Cassette tapes are not worth as much as the vinyl albums or CDs, so I usually only include one per guide. When determining an itemís collector value, I start with the original retail price the year it was released. Afterward, I calculate the percentage of inflation from the original release date to the current year. I then consider how difficult it would be for a collector in the United States to obtain the item. Lastly, the value depends entirely on how much a collector is willing to pay for an item.
Below is a grading scale to aid both sellers and bidders:
Perfect Mint (PM) = factory sealed, extra contents should still be there; otherwise, it was re-sealed. A re-sealed item is valued the same as Mint (M).
Near Mint (NM) = factory seal intact, but broken and extra contents included
Mint (M) = factory seal removed, but cover and album in perfect condition, extra contents removed
Excellent (E) = cover and liner show age, but no damage and album in perfect condition, extra contents removed or aged
Very Good (VG) = cover and liner show age and minute damage, album shows minor use but no scratches, extra contents removed or slightly damaged
Good (G) = cover and liner show age and use damage, album has some minor scratches but still playable without skips, extra contents removed or damaged
Fair (F) = cover shows age and heavy use damage, liner may be absent, album has major scratches or has center paper damage but still playable with minor skips
Poor (P) = cover may not accompany album or may be heavily damaged or torn, liner may be absent or heavily damaged, album is not playable
The following is an example of a degradation in value using the grading scale above:
The first release of the Appetite for Destruction album in perfect mint (PM) condition is valued at $232.00 USD.
If you break the seal yourself to inspect or photograph the liner and album, but leave the extra contents (if any) with the album, subtract $1 or $2 from the PM value.
A near mint (NM) condition album would be valued at $230.00.
If you acquire the album without the factory seal and with or without a protective sleeve (you may place one on it) and any extra contents are removed, it is still in mint (M) condition provided there is no damage. These albums may be re-sealed however. I purchased a second generation AFD album that was listed as factory sealed, but curiosity killed the cat and I broke the seal to look at it. The sticker sheet was missing. If an album is still in perfect condition and sealed, it is impossible to tell if it has been re-sealed without breaking the seal.
A mint (M) condition item is valued at $5.00 less than the near mint (NM) value ($225.00).
As the condition degrades, so the value decreases.
An album in excellent (E) condition would be valued at $10.00 less than the near mint (NM) value ($215.00).
If you have anything graded below excellent (E), subtract $20.00-$80.00 from the grade above it for each consecutive grade.
Very Good (VG) = $195.00 (215-20).
Good (G) = $155.00 (195-40).
Fair (F) = $95.00 (155-60).
Poor (P) = $15.00 (95-80).
Keep your grading and increments consistent, even for items of lower value. You may have to use dollars or cents, etc depending on the item's PM value.
You may think a Guns N Roses item isn't worth anything, but you would be surprised. The elusive sticker sheet that once accompanied this album may be worth more than the album itself because it is impossible to find. Let's face it, kids walked into record stores and broke the seals just for the stickers and merchants had to re-seal the albums to sell them. Good luck finding one of those original sticker sheets.