Rare Record Scarcity Index

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Rare Record Scarcity Index

WHO IS FRANK DANIELS and what’s a Record Scarcity Index? Frank has been col­lecting records for a long time: rumor has it that he started col­lecting back when they were making one-sided 78s out of left­over Con­fed­erate currency.

He is a long­time con­trib­utor to my two record col­lec­tors sites, Elvis – A Touch Of Gold and Rather Rare Records. He has also as­sisted sev­eral au­thors on their book projects, no­tably Perry Cox with his Bea­tles price guide projects. So Mr D is hardly an un­known in the hobby of vinyl collecting.

Sev­eral years ago, Frank de­vel­oped a Scarcity Index that ad­dressed a record’s rarity—the real or per­ceived avail­ability of the item—rather than its value (as all price guides do).


Scarcer items tend to be valu­able, but scarcity does not al­ways di­rectly trans­late into value on the col­lec­tor’s market.


Frank’s index was ini­tially used only for American-manufactured Bea­tles records, as the chart below will make ev­i­dent. He was able to be this spe­cific with the Fab Four discog­raphy due to the ob­ses­sively in­tri­cate and ac­cu­rate pressing plant data found in Brice Spizer’s Bea­tles books.

As this kind of data is not avail­able for more than 99% of the records in the world, using Frank’s Scarcity Index system is far less pre­cise when dis­cussing, say, Davie Allan or Aretha Franklin records.

Still, if you put the time into re­searching what is selling on­line via Col­lec­tors Frenzy and Pop­sike, you can get a feel for a record’s supply.


PerryCox FrankDaniels BeatlesPriceGuide 6Ed 300

Along with Perry Cox, Frank Daniels is one of the co-authors of the most re­cent edi­tion of the Price Guide for the Bea­tles Amer­ican Edi­tions (sixth edi­tion, 2008). Across the Uni­verse is a web­site de­voted to the minu­tiae of Bea­tles com­pletists col­lec­tors of Bea­tles records from around the world. It also in­cludes discogra­phies for the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra.


The Rare Record Scarcity Index
by Frank Daniels

I have in­tro­duced a Scarcity Index (SI) to in­di­cate the rel­a­tive rarity of records. The rating ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 being very common and 10 in­di­cating that fewer than 30 copies are known to exist. An SI rating roughly cor­re­sponds to the number of such items that are be­lieved to be ex­tant, and also to the fre­quency with which such items come up for public sale. These com­par­isons are shown in the fol­lowing tables:


SIDe­scriptorFre­quency of Sale
  1Ex­tremely CommonTwice per week
  2Very CommonOnce per week
  3CommonOnce per 2 weeks
  4Rel­a­tively CommonOnce per month
  5Av­erageOnce per 2 months
  6Un­commonOnce per 4 months
  7ScarceOnce per 6 months
  8RareOnce per year
  9Very RareOnce per 2 years
10Ex­tremely RareLess than 1 per 2 years


The Scarcity Index for items made after 1980 may be lower than the true index be­cause items that are new enough to be con­stantly up for sale may not have es­tab­lished col­lec­table status. The fre­quency with which items come up for sale is also af­fected by scarcity.

Scarcer items tend to be more valu­able. This may in­crease the de­sire of their owners to sell them, as it also in­creases the de­sire of po­ten­tial buyers to own them.

Many items that came out during the ’60s were used by teenagers and de­stroyed. There­fore, while a record that sold a mil­lion in 1965 should be more common than one that did not sell well in 1985, it is pos­sible that there are fewer ex­tant NM copies of the former over the latter.

It is also the case that records from later pe­riods are more fre­quently found in higher grades than are records from ear­lier pe­riods. This phe­nom­enon tends to in­crease the value of NM (and higher) con­di­tion copies of ear­lier records—even if those records orig­i­nally sold quite well. Con­se­quently, scarcity does not al­ways di­rectly trans­late to value.



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