Rare Record Scarcity Index

Estimated reading time is 3 minutes.

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:


SI Descriptor Frequency of Sale
  1 Extremely Common Twice per week
  2 Very Common Once per week
  3 Common Once per 2 weeks
  4 Relatively Common Once per month
  5 Average Once per 2 months
  6 Uncommon Once per 4 months
  7 Scarce Once per 6 months
  8 Rare Once per year
  9 Very Rare Once per 2 years
10 Extremely Rare Less 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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