The Top 10 Rarest Vinyl Records of all time tell a story of love, music, and our unquenchable desire for rock memorabilia – and the lure of scarcity.
#10 The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963) Dick James Music Company
The Dick James Music Company imprinted some of the Beatles’ debut albums with their name before switching to the Northern Songs brand. This rare vinyl record sells for roughly $8,500 each.
#9 Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen/No Feelings (1977) LTS Records
Only two copies of this vinyl record may exist of the rare LTS record label” pressing of this controversial, censored, and banned title. (Of course, official reactions to the Sex Pistols only heightened their popularity.) One of these rare vinyl records recently sold on eBay for $20,000.
#8 Frank Wilson – Do I Love You [Indeed I Do] (1965) Soul Records
One of the two existing copies of this rare vinyl record sold for £25,000 in 2009. Audiophiles and collectors revere the unique sound of its Northern Soul style, a UK version of Motown.
#7 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – 1968 Woburn Music Festival (1968)
This live recording was made directly from the Woburn Music Festival sound board. It has sold for $95,000, though subsequent CD re-releases may have reduced its value.
#6 The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (1966) Capitol Records
A compilation of previous British releases, this album originally featured a picture of the Beatles dressed as butchers, covered in meat and holding doll heads. Due to the controversy surrounding this image, few of these vinyl records exist. A sealed copy of Yesterday and Today sold for $125,000 in 2016.
#5 The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) Parlophone/Capitol
In 2013, a copy of this iconic album—signed by all four Beatles—sold for just under $300,000. Though many copies of Sgt. Pepper exist in good condition, the rarity of these signatures make this copy (by far) the most valuable.
#4 Elvis Presley – My Happiness (1953)
In 2015, Jack White secretly bought this, Elvis’ first recording, for $300,000. This acetate recording, which Elvis made as a gift for his mother, was his very first (not a copy). Soon after this purchase, White had this (still playable) disc archived for posterity.
#3 The Quarrymen – That'll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger (1958)
Only one copy of this acetate UK 78 recording was ever pressed – and belongs to Paul McCartney. Experts estimate the value of this rare record at £200,000. McCartney commissioned a limited run (25 in each format) of this treasure in both UK 78 and 45 formats, which are likely worth over £10,000 each.
#2 The Beatles – The Beatles [The White Album] (1968)Apple Records
The White Album ranks among the top-grossing albums of all time. However, Ringo Starr’s personal copy of this double album was the very first (#0000001). This well-worn rare vinyl album may even have Ringo’s fingerprints on it – and recently sold at auction for $790,000.
#1 Wu Tang Clan – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2015)
The most expensive vinyl record album of all time, this controversial work reputedly contains guest appearances from Cher (on two tracks). Because only one copy of this double album was ever pressed, it fits more into the art world than the music world. The owner has the right to play it at listening parties or distribute it away for free – but can’t profit from it until 2103.
The rare vinyl records (and acetate ones, for that matter) on this list highlight the astonishing value collectors place on physical objects that let them literally hold history in their hands.