June 21, 2009

Introducing the Beatles - VJ Records - 01-10-1964

Introducing the Beatles - VJ Records - 01-10-1964

Perhaps the most distinctive component in the history of Beatles records is the album Introducing the Beatles (Vee Jay VJLP/SR-1062). This eccentric LP is distinctive on many fronts, not the least of which is that its dozen tracks have proliferated into over two dozen subsequent albums and singles.

This summer 1963 product of Chicago's Vee Jay label competed heartily in the marketplace, right along with the big boys over at Capitol. As a small, independent company with a big hit record on their hands, Vee Jay and their vendors worked around the clock to meet the enormous demand for this LP. For the last few months of '63, this was the only Beatles album available for purchase in American shops. Although a huge seller, its sales life was cut very short by the courts, when, in early 1965, the rights to all of the Beatles recordings were turned over to Capitol/EMI.

Not surprisingly, most of the world's rare and valuable records, including Introducing the Beatles, have been counterfeited -numerous times and in a myriad of variations. It is probably the most counterfeited record in history, and deserving of consideration for a gold or platinum award in the category: Rock Album Most Frequently Faked.

With so many different bogus copies floating around, perhaps we should begin by giving a precise description of the original album. Knowing how to spot an original is one of the best weapons against getting stuck with a pretender.

The first issue covers were manufactured in both Chicago and St. Louis. All original covers have a glossy coated paper stock, both front and back. Approximately 90% of all Introducing the Beatles covers were produced at these plants. If either the front or the back cover is flat -lacking gloss -it is a counterfeit.

In late 1964, when Vee Jay relocated their offices to Santa Monica, California, a small number of original covers were then made on the west coast. These have less of a gloss on the back cover; however, they do have some shine and are clearly not a flat stock.

Although color shades do vary on originals, the printing of the photo and text is always very sharp and clear. Any with poor quality printing are probably counterfeits. All legitimate covers are made using varying shades of gray or tan cardboard, with the printed front and back slicks bonded on them. All original covers we have seen have a 1/4" overlap of cardboard at the top and bottom of the inside cover. This check can only be made by viewing the inside of the cover at the top and at the bottom. On most fakes, these overlaps are either much larger than 1/4", or there is no flap at all. The California plant made a small quantity of original monaural covers that have no flap at all, but they still have the glossy back cover slick as well as high quality printing. Also, these come with an authentic disc inside, yet another way to help determine originality.

A few counterfeits do have covers with high quality printing, but their overall construction and/or disc quality are noticeably imperfect.

While it is very helpful to have a known original on hand for comparison, few folks have that luxury. When this is not possible, use the following checklist to make a determination regarding authenticity.

Some of the more common characteristics found on COUNTERFEIT COVERS:

Covers with a brown border around the front cover photo are fakes.
Covers with a bright yellow tint and the word "STEREO" printed in black at the upper left are fakes.
Covers without George Harrison's shadow-visible to his right of where he stands, near the edge are fakes.
Covers with red, blue, and yellow dots, unmistakable under the top of the back cover, are fakes. The dots are used by the printers during the printing process. On originals, the dots are in a different area and are not normally visible. (This fake is of particular importance due to the high quality of the front cover photo. For that reason, this cover has fooled many a collector. Look for the dots! Fake covers are almost always accompanied by a fake disc.)
Covers for the stereo issue that list Love Me Do and P. S. I Love You, among the two columns of tracks on the back, are almost always fakes. Only a couple of authentic copies of these versions are known to exist.
Covers having a flat paper stock on the back side slick are fakes.
Some of the more common characteristics found on COUNTERFEIT DISCS:

Any labels with flat textured rainbow/colorband labels are fakes.
Labels that have "THE BEATLES" and "INTRODUCING The BEATLES" separated by the center hole are fakes.
If the width of the vinyl trail-off -the gap between the end of the last track and the edge of the label is greater than one inch, you have a fake.
Any copy with black labels that do not have the rainbow colorband, that are printed on glossy paper stock, are fakes.
Copies with rainbow/colorband labels that have faint print and/or weak color brightness and a lack of clarity are fakes.
Some of the more common characteristics found on ORIGINAL COVERS:

Covers-front and back-must have slicks that are either glossy or semi-glossy.
Printing on covers must be of high quality and professional looking.
Back cover lists contents in two columns
Stereo copies must meet one of the following conditions:
Back cover pictures 25 color photos of other Vee Jay albums.
This copy is commonly known as the "Ad Back" cover.
Back cover is totally blank; a completely white slick with no print whatsoever.
Some of the more common characteristics found on ORIGINAL DISCS:

Labels have "THE BEATLES" and the title "INTRODUCING THE BEATLES" above the center hole.
Only gloss or semi-gloss rainbow/colorband labels are used on originals.
All original labels have bright, sharp silver print.
The vinyl trail-off -the gap between the end of the last track and the edge of the label usually measures from 7/8" to 1" wide, but never greater.
The rainbow/colorband that circles the perimeter of an original label is of high resolution, with smooth, gradual changes in color.
The vinyl trail-off area on over 90% of all originals has one or more of the following mechanical Stampings:
1. The term "AudioMatrix."
2 The letters "MR" inside of a circle.
3. The letters "APP" in italics. Among originals, only those made in Santa Monica lack machine Stampings. Regardless, these still have the aforementioned bright silver print and glossy labels. To date, we have never seen a counterfeit copy with machine stamping in the trail-off area.
We have never found a counterfeit with the word "STEREO" printed on the label.
Any copy with "STEREO" printed on the label is more than likely an original.
All originals with black labels that do not have the rainbow colorband are printed on a flat-not glossy-paper stock.
Any item under scrutiny must measure up in all the above areas of originality testing. If either the cover, disc or label fails even one criterion of the test, then it is likely from that secluded, middle Eastern country: Itsa Fakka!


Collectors' Corner: How to value ‘Introducing The Beatles’May 22, 2008
by Bruce Spizer
One of the most dreaded e-mails a Beatles dealer or expert can receive goes something like this: “I just got my mom’s copy of Introducing The Beatles that she purchased back when she was a kid. What’s it worth?”

Of course, there is no simple way to answer such a question. Before determining the value, you might have to go through a dozen or more questions. Information, prices and images of Introducing The Beatles are spread over four pages in Perry Cox & Frank Daniels’ “Price Guide for the Beatles American Records.”

First, you must determine whether or not the record is counterfeit. Does “The Beatles” appear above or below the center hole on the label? If the group’s name is below the center hole, the record is a fake, most likely pressed in the ’70s. There are other things about these records that indicate they were not pressed in 1964, such as improper trail-off area markings and thin vinyl. But, there is no need to go any further once you determine that “The Beatles” is below the center hole.

Because some counterfeits have the group’s name above the center hole, additional questions need to be asked before you conclude that the record is legitimate. If the label has a colorband, does it contain the color green? If the colorband is missing the color green and has a jagged line between red and purple, the record is a fake. If the label is black without a colorband, does it have a large white VJ brackets logo? If yes, the record is a fake.

If the record is fake, chances are the cover is too. But, because covers and discs can get mixed up over the years, one should also test the cover. Does the cover have a blurry image of the group? If yes, then the cover is a fake, probably from the ’60s. Does the cover have a brown border ? If yes, then the cover is bogus.

Unfortunately, most counterfeit covers closely resemble the real thing. This is particularly true of stereo Version One covers that have the song titles “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” on the back. Legitimate Version One stereo column back covers are extremely rare. There are two tests to spot the bogus covers.
The “flap test” requires inspection of the inside of the cardboard jacket. Does the cover have either no flaps, ½” flaps at the top and bottom or a ¼” flap only at the bottom? If so, the cover is a fake. Legitimate Version One stereo covers have a ¼” flap at both the top and the bottom.

The flap test is not an absolute rule for all covers. Legitimate Version One mono covers without flaps have been found with the later Version One mono pressings with the brackets logo (more on that later). In addition, there are some legitimate Version Two mono covers with no flaps.

The “Honey test” requires the inspection of the back cover. Many counterfeit covers have back slicks with the same imperfections. The most noticeable flaw appears in the word HONEY in the song “A Taste Of Honey.” Are the letters H and the E missing ink in their upper left parts? If so, the cover is a fake. If not, the cover may or may not be legitimate. While the “Honey test” does not always work, it is often useful in weeding out albums still in the shrink wrap.

If you get past all of the above and determine that both the album cover and the record are legitimate, then you move on to the next group of questions.

First, you should determine if the album is the rarer first configuration or the later second configuration. Does the album contain the songs “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” or the songs “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me?” If it contains “Please Please Me” rather than “Love Me Do,” it is the more common Version Two package.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a Version One record being paired with a version two cover, or vice-versa, but let’s assume for now that you have a Version Two cover and record. The next big question is whether the record is the mono or much rarer stereo version.

Does the word “STEREO” appear on the label? If not, the record is, for collecting purposes, mono even if you have a mislabeled disc that actually plays stereo. If mono, we next need to determine the type of label, for this also affects value.

Does the label have a colorband? If yes, we still are not done! Does the label have an oval Vee-Jay logo or a brackets VJ logo at the top? If it is the rarer oval logo, we can at last get a preliminary value. Assuming you have a basic cover without any value enhancements (more on that later), we can value the album after determining condition. So, what is the condition of the record and cover? If both are near mint (NM), the value is $400. Very good (VG) is valued at $100 and good (G) is valued at $40.
If the mono colorband label has a brackets logo at the top, we still have one more question. Is the label the normal size or is it a smaller 45-size label? If it is the normal size, you have the most common label variation of the album. While there are five different type-setting variations for this label, they are all valued at the same amount: NM at $250; VG at $50; and G at $15. If it has the 45-size label, the values increase to: NM at $350; VG at $60; and G at $25. If the label does not have a colorband, it is the rarer all-black label with silver print.

As expected, we still have more questions to ask. What appears at the top in silver? If it is the letters “VJ” with “VEE-JAY RECORDS” typed below, the album is valued: NM at $300; VG at $75; and G at $30. If it is the oval logo, the album is valued: NM at $600; VG at $150; and G at $60. If it is a small brackets logo, congratulations! The album is valued: NM at $2,000; VG at $500; and G at $200. But before you get too excited, remember not to confuse this rare variation with the counterfeit label that has a large white brackets logo.

There is one more mono black label with small silver bracket logo oddity to discuss. There are some records with this label that list “Love Me Do” and/or “P.S. I Love You” on the labels but actually play both “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me.” If both labels list the Version One songs, the value is: NM at $4,000; VG at $2,000; and G at $500. If you have a transition disc where only one of the labels lists the Version One song, the value is: NM at $3,000; VG at $1,250; and G at $350.

And now, let’s return to the cover. We can enhance the value of the album if the cover has certain special qualities. Is there a comma in the song title “Please, Please Me”? If there is no comma, you have the rarer version and can add another $200 if the cover is NM. Does the cover have a sticker promoting “Twist And Shout” and “Please, Please Me?” If so, add $150. Do you have a stereo cover with a “MONO” sticker? If so, add $400. Do you have a cover where the Version Two back cover slick was pasted over a Version One slick? If so, add $600. Do you have a cover with “DJ COPY NOT FOR SALE” stamped in red? If so, add $450.

Well, now that we’re through the mono Version One discs, let’s turn to the rarer stereo version. Does the label have a colorband? If yes, is it a regular-sized label with a brackets logo or a 45-sized label with an oval logo? If it is, the regular-sized brackets logo label, it is valued: NM at $1,500; VG at $375; and G at $150.

There are five different confirmed typesetting variations to look for. If it is the 45-size oval logo label, it is valued: NM at $1,800; VG at $450; and G at $180. If the label does not have the colorband and is all black with silver text, it is valued: NM at $1,250; VG at $315; and G at $125. There are two confirmed variations of this label.

And yes, there are cover enhancements for the stereo album as well. Does the cover have a sticker promoting “Twist And Shout” and “Please, Please Me?” If so, add $200. Is the cover a converted mono cover lacking the STEREOPHONIC banner at the top but with a sticker or other marking to indicate that the cover contains a stereo record? If yes, you can add between $200 to $700 depending on the stereo designation: $200 for a white rectangular sticker with STEREOPHONIC in black; $400 for a gold foil sticker with STEREO written vertically three times in black; $500 for either an oval or rectangular gold foil sticker with STEREO written horizontally; and $700 for a black machine stamped STEREOPHONIC embossing.
If you are lucky enough to have the rarer Version One album, there are still many questions to ask. Is the album the mono or stereo? If mono, the key consideration in determining value is the cover, so we’ll run through that first.

What is on the back cover? If the back cover has color images of 25 Vee-Jay albums, you most likely have a legitimate Ad-Back. It should be paired with a disc having an oval logo on its standard size colorband label. There are three label type-setting variations. This highly desirable package is valued: NM at $4,000; VG at $1,000; and G at $400.

If the back cover is a blank semi-gloss white slick, you have a blank back. It should also be paired with a
disc having an oval logo on its standard size colorband label. Mono blank backs are valued: NM at $2,500; VG at $625; and $250.

If the back cover has the song titles listed in two columns, you have the more common Column Back (or Titles on Back) version. To determine value, we must also examine the record inside the jacket. Does the label have a colorband with an oval logo? If yes, is it a standard-size label? If yes, it is valued: NM at $1,000; VG at $250; and G at $100.

If the label is a 45-size label, it is valued: NM at $1,200; VG at $300; and G at $120. If the label has a brackets logo, it is a later pressing. But in this case, it is worth more, because fewer Version One discs were pressed with Vee-Jay’s new brackets logo. It is valued: NM at $1,500; VG at $375; and G at $150.

If you have a stereo Version One album, you have one of the rarest of all Beatles albums. The label will have a colorband and an oval logo with the word STEREO at either the top, left or right part of the label. As was the case with the mono Version One albums, the cover determines value.

What is on the back cover? If it is the 25 Vee-Jay album covers, you have one of the cornerstones of Beatles record collecting, a stereo Ad-Back. It is valued: NM at $12,000; VG at $3,500; and G at $1,200. If the back cover is blank, it is valued: NM at $10,000; VG at $2,500; and G at $1,000. If it has the song titles on the back in two columns, it is valued: NM at $14,000; VG at $3,500; and G at $1,400.

Some cautionary words are needed regarding the Version One stereo covers. As discussed at the very beginning of this article, most counterfeit covers mimic the Version One stereo column back cover.
Be sure the cover is not counterfeit based upon the tests detailed above. Also, one should be on the lookout for altered Ad-Back covers. A legitimate Ad-Back cover should have “Printed in U.S.A.” located towards the lower left side of the front cover. If it does not have this designation, the cover has been altered by having its original back slick replaced with an Ad-Back slick removed from a Betty Everett album. If the borders of the slick are not smooth, you can be sure that someone has glued on the Ad-Back slick. So, more than 2,000 words later, we have finally gone through the valuation process of an Introducing The Beatles album. Now you can see why I cringe every time I get an e-mail from someone asking me what his or her copy of the album is worth. The next time that happens, I’ll refer the person to this Goldmine article!

[Note: All of the prices in this article are from the “Price Guide for the Beatles American Records” (Sixth Edition) by Perry Cox & Frank Daniels, available through the publisher in standard, slipcase and collector’s editions at www.beatle.net.]

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