Why George Bernard Shaw’s Broken English was music to my ears
Nowadays, it would appear that if you want to be an antiques dealer, the only qualifications you need are a walking stick and a bank account regularly replenished by the benefits office…
But back in the day when dealers were all as knowledgeable and honourable as Lovejoy I found a 78rpm shellac recording of George Bernard Shaw reading Spoken English and Broken English. He’d scratched his name onto either side of the disc in the run-off groove.
So, being a proper purveyor of paraphernalia and curiosities and not some waddling granny who gained what little knowledge she has by watching Bargain Hunt, I phoned the George Bernard Shaw Society.
I could see this immaculate recording of a BBC radio show from 1927 being worth hundreds if not thousands – well, it could potentially keep the wolf away from the door for a couple of days anyway.
Sadly, the GBS society soon disavowed me about its value by saying it is a wonderful thing to own but any real GBS fan already has one, so it might be worth £20.
Still, true antiques dealers travel ever-hopeful – not for us a bus pass and a tartan pull along shopping basket – so I went through my contacts book and found a far-flung country auction of questionable practices in the wilds of Shropshire and phoned them. We had a chat, I told the auctioneer what I had and the thousands I thought it might possibly have been worth. He recommended I put a reserve of £400 on it, which, on his advice, I did.
And so to the day of the auction I was tending to my mullet hairdo in the my La Maison-chic bathroom mirror when my Chocolate and Cream GPO 746 bell telephone began ringing off the wall. It was the auctioneer calling on his second-hand Nokia.
He couldn’t have apologised more, saying that he had dropped my George Bernard Shaw shellac and smashed it “But don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll give you your full reserve on it.”
I thanked him profusely but it was a good job he could not see my impression of a Jeremy Clarkson smug face down the telephone – I sold sold something I got for nothing which was worth possibly £20 for £400 after all!
And do you know, I couldn’t help thinking that the country auctioneer hadn’t broken my record at all – just like I had done, he thought it was worth thousands and at £400 he thought he’d got a bargain!
And do you know what else? I felt quite virtuous because now that the expectation of the value of the record had rocketed I realized not one bargain hunting, limping, jobless bobble hat wearing pretend dealer would be hurt in the making of that deal!
So, old records, mainly vinyl it has to be said, are so on-trend now that many are no longer cheap as chips but the ones to watch out for are ones which have been owned by a celebrity or were made in limited numbers.
Some time ago vinyl specialist and record shop owner Phil Barton came up with this list of how to get rich by keeping your eyes and ears open for a record buy!
- White Album by The Beatles originally owned by Ringo Starr – £730,876. Ringo Starr sold his copy of the ‘White Album’ for $910,000. It was the first pressing.
- That’ll Be The Day by The Quarrymen – £100,000. The 1958 original is the only known copy of the pre-Beatles disc recorded at a local electrical shop by McCartney, Lennon and Harrison.
- Love Me Do by The Beatles – £80,500.There is only one known pressing of this one-sided recording.
- Music For Supermarkets by Jean Michel Jarre – £10,000 – £30,000. In 1983 Jarre made just one copy of this album before destroying the master tapes.
- Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson – £25,000. Only two originals have ever surfaced on the Motown label offshoot Soul.
- God Save The Queen by Sex Pistols – £12,000. Before they were ‘sacked’ by the A&M label about 300 were made. It is rare.
- Would You Believe by Billy Nicholls – £10,000.Only 100 copies of this 60’s psych/folk/rock album were made.
- Please Please Me by The Beatles – £7,500. Always check the numbers in the run-off groove. These numbers tell you which pressing you have.
- Kind Hearted Woman Blues by Robert Johnson – £7,000.Only two photographs of him exist and his 78 records are just as rare, especially those released on the Vocalion label.
- Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love With My Car by Queen – £5,000.The EMI special edition of the single was also an invite to a company event. It came with matches, a pen, a ticket, a menu, an outer card sleeve, a scarf and an EMI goblet.
- Pride by U2 – £5,000.It was originally pressed in Australia on clear vinyl, coloured vinyl is extremely collectible and in this case only five copies were made.
- Midsummer Night’s Scene/Sara Crazy Child by John’s Children – £4,000.The single was pressed on 7” vinyl but never released.
- Latch On/Only A Daydream by Ron Hargrave – £3,000.There are only six UK copies known to exist.
- Led Zeppelin’s 1969 first album – £3,000.Led Zeppelin’s first vinyl album is very common, however the initial pressing had turquoise lettering of the band’s name on the front cover.
- Love Me Do/PS I Love You by The Beatles – £3,000. 250 demo copies of this 1962 7” single contained the misspelling, ‘McArtney’.
- Space Oddity/Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud by David Bowie – £3,000.Only a couple of copies of the 7” single with an unreleased picture sleeve are believed to exist.
- Tinkerbells Fairydust LP by Tinkerbells Fairydust – £3,000.Tinkerbells Fairydust recorded this album for Decca, but it was never released. It had extremely unusual packaging and a laminated front sleeve with a mono stereo ‘peephole’ on the back.
- Erotica by Madonna – £2,000.Picture discs are very collectible and when Madonna released this album in 1992, it was quickly withdrawn from sale because the toe-sucking image on the cover coincided with similar stories involving the Duchess of York.
- Love is Strange by Wings – £1,500-£2,000.“Love is Strange” was due to be released as a 7” from the Wildlife album, however Paul McCartney changed his mind.
- Tudor Lodge by Tudors Lodges – £1200.This is their one and only album and was released on the Vertigo label.