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Classic 45's Glossary

Classic 45's Glossary

Term Definition
Box set Box sets are physical cardboard or plastic boxes that contain collections by a particular artist or genre. The limited edition box sets available through Classic 45's were manufactured by Collectables; they are in very limited supply and will not be reissued. As describedin for each item, most of these box sets contain a mix of reissues (either by Collectables, Eric, or major label reissue series) and new, unplayed copies from a former wholesale warehouse.
Bubbling Bubbling is quite common on 45 labels that are glued on. It refers to the air bubbles sometimes left trapped below the label that's been affixed to the wax. Some bubbling is so subtle you may not notice it. In the descriptions, I try to mention bubbling on a label when it's noticeable. The presence of noticeable bubbling is one of a label's possible flaws, and it usually lowers a label's grade a notch (for example, from mint to near mint). On the other hand, very subtle bubbling on an otherwise mint label may not be cause for lowering the label's grade to near mint.
Chart Info The abbreviations you see in the chart info section of each 45 refer to the different genre singles charts, mostly from Billboard magazine, but "Other" also including data from Cash Box, Record World, and Music Vendor magazines:
p (Pop), r (RnB/Black), c (Country), m (Modern Rock), o (Other), x (Christmas).
Condition Those mysterious abbreviations we sometimes use in parentheses as part of a record's detailed grades have the following meanings. All apply to the Label grade, some to both Label and Sleeve grades, and one ("sw") to both Label and Vinyl grades. The grade that uses each abbreviation is indicated at the end of each abbreviation in the list below:
dh: a drillhole (Label, Sleeve)
sw: small writing (Label, Sleeve), or
sw: slight warp (Vinyl)
w: writing (Label, Sleeve)
ss: small sticker (Label, Sleeve)
sst: small stain (Label, Sleeve)
st: small tear (Label, Sleeve)
t: tear (Label, Sleeve)
x: an "x" or similar mark--usually made by a radio station to mark the "pick" side of the 45 (Label)
Drillhole A drillhole is the small hole you sometimes see on 45 record labels. The hole was "drilled" by the record company as part of putting a given record into "cutout" status. Record companies made "cutouts" available to retail outlets as a way of clearing inventory of particular titles.
First pressing, second pressing Often, popular records had multiple pressings, just as popular books have multiple printings. First pressings typically are more valuable when they can be distinguished from later pressings. Typical distinguishing characteristics are differences in label/logo design, color, or text (including differences in typography and layout).
New, unplayed Since so much of our inventory is "new and unplayed" stock, we feel it's important to let customers know when a record is from such stock. Classic 45s actively purchases new 45 record stock from existing and former music distribution warehouses, often in bulk. When buying in bulk, we listen to only one copy from the batch, assuming the copies to be identical (unless some visual cue suggests otherwise). Even so, when stating a record is "new and unplayed," we do not include any handling and playing we may have done in the course of grading (we always strive to keep pristine stock in that state during handling, of course).
Promo copy This refers to records given away to radio stations or for other promotional purposes. Typically, promo copies have language such as "Not for Sale" or "For Promotional Use Only" printed on the label. Frequently, promo copies have the same song on both sides, though there are often differences between the two songs. When the songs are the same and both are in Stereo, we refer to these as "Stereo/Stereo" promo copies. If one side is in Mono and the other Stereo, we refer to them as "Stereo/Mono" promo copies. Special promo copies are also identified in cases where each side has a different version of the same song — for example, radio stations were often offered "short" or "edited" versions of songs, and one side of a promo copy might have the full or "long" or "LP" version, while the other offers the edited-for-radio version. Such promo copies are quite collectible, especially if the edited version was not also available on the retail copies.

As opposed to different pressings, reissues are rereleases of a given song or songs on a different label, usually by a company that specializes in reissues of old music. However, most of the major label record companies used to have their own reissue series, such as Elektra Spun Gold, Atlantic Oldies, and Capitol Starline. Most of the major label reissue series are now defunct, and the Collectables label is the primary reissue label still making brand new reissues.

Sadly, the Collectables catalog started shrinking in 2013, and the shrinking has accelerated since then. It now seems that the major labels have lost interest in licensing their music for the 45 rpm vinyl format, and the company that owns the Collectables label is not succeeding in re-licensing their catalog, which they have been reliably publishing since the 1960s. Through that licensing and publishing effort, the Collectables line has kept the price of all the essential touchstones of the American musical culture of the 1950s forward (Rockabilly, Rock'N'Roll, Soul, Country, Doo-Wop, the Motown catalog, Folk-Rock, Country Rock, and so much more) at reasonable levels. As the supply of in-print reissues dwindles away, prices of the remaining new, unplayed stock of these reissues have risen -- in some cases, quite dramatically.

Stock copy This refers to records sold at retail record stores. Often, such stock remained unsold in a store's inventory for many years. When eventually discovered and re-sold, such inventory is referred to as "original store stock" or as "stock copies."
Storage wear Classic 45s stores thousands of rare and precious, new and unplayed 45s from the 1950s to the present. We also buy from warehouse sources that have likewise stored vast inventories of new, unplayed 45 stock for many years, under varying storage conditions. Many of these jewels remain in inventory for years before being sold. In the course of that time, those who are pulling inventory for sale may riffle past a given 45 hundreds of times before finally pulling a record that's sat otherwise idle all these years. During the course of storage, a 45 can be subjected to light wear without ever being pulled or played. It typically manifests in lightly darkened areas on the label, in slight discoloration caused by moisture or mold, or in faint scuffing or other very light visual artifacts on the vinyl or styrene surface. On picture sleeves, even respectful handling during the course of fulfilling orders can cause "riffling" wear along the top edge, and the pressure of the 45 against the sleeve from within over the course of time and handling can cause ringwear on the sleeve's exterior. When we add new, unplayed stock to Classic 45s, "storage wear" can be a convenient shortcut in describing why a new, unplayed 45 has Near Mint labels or vinyl, or why an otherwise-new picture sleeve has ringwear or top "riffling" wear.
Styrene pressing Since the advent of the 45 rpm record in 1949, 45s have been pressed on one of two types of plastic: vinyl, or styrene. Casual collectors probably assume that all records are made from vinyl, but in fact at least 50% (in my experience) are made from styrene. So, why should you care?
A common source of audio distortion on old 45 records is from styrene pressings that have been played on poor equipment. Unfortunately, most teenagers from the 1950s & 60s had poor equipment, so it can be hard to find styrene pressings that are truly pristine. The type of distortion caused by worn styrene is typified by annoying crackle and hiss in loud passages of the music.
When you do find a pristine styrene pressing, however, the audio is typically better and cleaner than that of vinyl. Vinyl is more durable, so vinyl pressings rarely have the distorted audio (typically in loud passages) you hear on worn styrene. However, vinyl is more susceptible to noise from light scratches than is styrene, partly because such scratches seem to be rarer on styrene. Pristine styrene is brilliant, which is why I, as a collector, seek it out. But keep in mind that all it takes is a few plays on a turntable with a lousy needle to ruin a styrene pressing forever... even though it still looks pristine to the naked eye. This is one reason why we publish a separate audio grade here at Classic 45s, and why we often note whether a pressing is styrene or vinyl (the default assumption).
FYI, Columbia used styrene almost exclusively for its pressings beginning in the 1950s. This means all (well, almost all) Epic releases as well. Together, these labels cover 45s by Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Janis Joplin, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Donovan, The Hollies, Dave Clark Five, Yardbirds, etc. Many other record labels used both styrene and vinyl, including Atlantic and Liberty/United Artists. Some stuck to vinyl -- such as the Motown labels (with a few rare exceptions, of course!). After all, vinyl has its saving graces as well!
Warehouse find This refers to records that come from warehouses that used to be wholesale outlets for retail record stores. A few of these remain, and they have a limited supply of new, unplayed 45's still lying around. Classic 45s actively seeks to identify and buy stock from these sources.


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