Coffee CupJava 1500

I’ll give you a hundred bucks for it right now!

THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVE STORIES about in­ter­acting with a col­lector at a con­ven­tion. For the most part, I learned far more from col­lec­tors than they learned from me in these face-to-face ex­changes: what­ever I heard of value went into my price guides. But there were in­stances where I was of value to a col­lector. In this case, I may have—get this!—forever al­tered the way one col­lector viewed the hobby and the busi­ness of col­lecting records.

I may have, in fact, changed a life! So, here’s that story—and it’s so per­fect you’ll prob­ably think that I made it up!

But first, let me sug­gest that you read “Fighting Over Jutta Hipp At A Record Col­lec­tors Con­ven­tion.” It pro­vides the back­ground for this story. Briefly, twenty years ago my love life took me back to the East Coast for a few weeks. While there, I not only pur­sued a woman, Jen Bot­tlebinder, but also my pro­fes­sion as the Price Guide Guy.

 

Well, the 10-inch Peggy Lee BLACK COFFEE on Decca. You have $100 on it. That’s too high for that record. I found one a few years ago for only $25!”

 

While back there, I booked ta­bles at two record col­lec­tors con­ven­tions as a seller. My in­ven­tory con­sisted of copies of the latest edi­tions of my three price guides: the fifth edi­tion of Gold­mine’s Price Guide To Col­lectible Record Al­bums, the second edi­tion of Gold­mine’s Price Guide To Col­lectible Jazz Al­bums, and the third edi­tion of Gold­mine’s Rock ‘n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide.

The first show had been in New York City; the second was in a Hol­iday Inn (?) in McLean, Vir­ginia, near where Jen lived. As I stated in the first part, this was all new to Jen, and she was quite taken aback at the con­tempt that some strangers showed me.

In fact, she was pissed about it, but quickly saw how I han­dled each sit­u­a­tion so she let it ride. Con­se­quently, she was much more re­laxed at this Vir­ginia show than she had been in New York.

And this was so much easier a sit­u­a­tion for all in­volved …

 

PeggyLee_BlackCoffee

Peggy Lee was one of the most suc­cessful singers of the ’50s, selling mil­lions of al­bums and sin­gles. Her first LP album for Decca was BLACK COFFEE, which many fans still con­sider her best. But like many former big band singers, her po­si­tion with col­lec­tors has dropped pre­cip­i­tously, as few younger col­lec­tors are in­ter­ested in that kind of music. Con­se­quently, Decca DL-5482 has not risen in value as much as it should have and cur­rently has a sug­gested NM value of only $100-200. 1

Black coffee with a splash of insight

We had been at the McLean show for sev­eral hours when a gen­tleman ap­proached our table. He was nicely dressed and well-groomed and had an al­most re­tiring air about him. He was not the type of person from which I would nor­mally ex­pect any kind of con­fronta­tion.

In fact, he looked more like he was ready for church than spending the day flip­ping through records. But he was car­rying a well-used copy of my jazz book, so Jen and I greeted him and he in­tro­duced him­self as Glenn (not his real name, of course).

Glenn po­litely asked, “Ex­cuse me, but are you the au­thor of these books?”

Yes, sir! That I am.

“Um, I have a problem with your jazz album guide.”

And what is that?

“Oh, it’s the prices.”

And the problem is?

“They’re much too high!”

We then ex­changed a few sen­tences on what he col­lected and did he un­der­stand that the high values as­signed rare records in my book ap­plied to records in nearly mint con­di­tion and did he un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween VG+ and EX and NM and he as­sured me that he got all of that but that the values were still too high.

So I asked him to give me a frin­stance so we could make the con­ver­sa­tion more con­crete.

To which Glenn replied, “Um, well, the 10-inch Peggy Lee BLACK COFFEE on Decca. You have $100 on it. That’s too high for that record.”

 

GoofyIdeaBulb

I searched for an image of Elmer having an idea bulb pop on above his head but couldn’t find one. I did find this image of Goofy having a great idea—a rather rare oc­cur­rence for the ol’ dog. Glenn, the col­lector that I met in McLean, did not have quite this dra­matic a mo­ment, but if light bulbs popped on above our heads in real life, it wouldn’t be that common an oc­cur­rence. This mo­ment was rev­e­la­tory to him, and hope­fully made the joy of col­lecting even greater. 2

Just like in the movies

So, I looked at Glenn and asked him the same ques­tion I asked every col­lector who said the value of a rather rare record in nearly mint con­di­tion in one of my books was too high:

Re­ally? Do you have copy of that album?

“Yes, in­deed I do! I found one a few years ago for only $25!”

Is it near mint?

“It’s per­fect! Like new—like no one ever played it!”

So I stood up, reached into my pocket, and pulled out my money. I slowly counted five crisp, new twenty-dollar bills (just like in the movies!), and of­fered them to him.

Here, I’ll give you a hun­dred bucks for it right now!

Without hes­i­ta­tion, Glenn shot back, “Oh! I’d never sell it for that price!”

It was like a scene in a Warner Brothers’ car­toon where a light bulb goes on over the head of a char­acter having a flash of re­al­iza­tion! You know, Elmer Fudd re­al­izing that once again Bugs has pulled the wool over his eyes—that the was­cally wabbit has out­witted him and escaped—but it’s too late to do any­thing about it.

Ahhh, this was one of those mo­ments in my life that jus­ti­fied the seem­ingly end­less hours that I have spent ar­guing with people, al­ways in good faith, even when drunk. The times I have spent de­bating with people who can’t see that they are looking at things through blinder—always aware that be­blind­ered (sic) I may also be—but when I saw that light bulb above his head it then this mo­ment be­came a ‘this magic mo­ment.’

As I said, Glenn was ob­vi­ously in­tel­li­gent and when that light bulb went on he knew im­me­di­ately what it meant. And without a trace of anger over being bested in an ar­gu­ment, Glenn ex­claimed, “Oh!”

Then he nodded his head and said, “Right. I see. Point taken.”

I was pleased with my­self and Jen was beaming with joy at the out­come.

And Glenn smiled and added, “Um, would you sign my copy of your book?”

So I scrawled in felt-tip pen on the in­side cover of his book,

To Glenn,
A gen­tleman among col­lec­tors—
and an old dog not afraid to learn new tricks!
Keep on keepin’ on, buddy!
Neal

If only Al Gore had in­vented the In­ternet a decade sooner, it would have been avail­able back then and no doubt I would still have Glenn’s and thou­sand other col­lec­tors’ email ad­dresses in my files. 3

 

Coffee CupJava 1500

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is  … a cuppa coffee. Black, of course.


FOOTNOTES:

1   While there is a vast cat­alog of Peggy Lee 78 rpm sin­gles and al­bums, 45 rpm sin­gles and EP al­bums, and long-playing LPs and tapes to collect—enough to keep a com­pletist busy for decades—few have a value above $50. Copies of 5482 graded only VG often sell on eBay for $25-50, so a NM copy sold by an es­tab­lished dealer will easily sell for $100 and up.

2   While the Disney char­ac­ters are part of the Amer­ican cul­tural fabric and a joyous part of my child­hood, most of the car­toons do not hold up well for modern viewers in terms of con­tent and in­tent. Disney was so white­breadly (sic) whole­some, that many ap­pear al­most un­in­ten­tion­ally ironic or even satiric. On the other hand, the Warner Brothers’ car­toons are as dev­il­ishly (and quite in­ten­tion­ally) ironic, satiric, and loaded with double en­ten­dres that kids just don’t get.

3   “Former Vice-President Al Gore never claimed that he ‘in­vented’ the In­ternet, nor did he say any­thing that could rea­son­ably be in­ter­preted that way. The put-downs were mis­leading, out-of-context dis­tor­tions of some­thing he said during an in­ter­view in 1999. When asked to de­scribe what dis­tin­guished him from his chal­lenger for the De­mo­c­ratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, Gore replied:

During my ser­vice in the United States Con­gress, I took the ini­tia­tive in cre­ating the In­ternet. I took the ini­tia­tive in moving for­ward a whole range of ini­tia­tives that have proven to be im­por­tant to our coun­try’s eco­nomic growth and en­vi­ron­mental pro­tec­tion, im­prove­ments in our ed­u­ca­tional system.

Al­though Vice-President Gore’s phrasing might have been a bit clumsy (and per­haps self-serving), he was not claiming that he ‘in­vented’ the In­ternet in the sense of having de­signed or im­ple­mented it, but rather that he was re­spon­sible, in an eco­nomic and leg­isla­tive sense, for fos­tering the de­vel­op­ment the tech­nology that we now know as the In­ternet.” (Snopes) 

 

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i love the idea of a cash bar at a record show, most sellers are much easier to deal with after they’ve had a few drinks.