How to Date Vinyl Records

By Melissa Martinez
There are many resources that allow for vinyl album dating.

Compared to compact discs and digital music, the vinyl record may seem obsolete. Despite this, there is a hardcore group of vinyl enthusiasts who still collect not only new vinyl records, but older ones as well. If you wanted to sell a vinyl collection or get it appraised for insurance purposes, you must first know how old each record is. On very old vinyl, this may not be easy to tell right away. For the collector, there are ways that a vinyl lover can date records to find out their true age and worth.

Check the album, jacket, and album cover for writing or branding from the studio. This could be anywhere on the album and is usually small and inconspicuous. If the album came with a lyric sheet, check that as well. Many lyric sheets print the copyright date of the lyrics along with information about the publishing company for each song. Instead of a date, you may find a catalog number. You can check online at Discogs.com and punch in the catalog number to see what date your vinyl was produced.

Check the cover of the album for an EAN code, which is a product identification barcode. If there is an EAN on the cover, then the album was produced after 1973. This gives you a jumping off point if you are having trouble identifying a date for the album.

Check the album and cover for two overlapping circles, if the record company was Columbia or CBS. If there is a Magic Notes logo and a CBS microphone in those circles, the album was produced between 1938 to the late 1950s. If there is a Walking Eye logo instead, it was produced in 1960 or later.

Check the album and cover for a black label with the word 'Parlophone' written in yellow, if the record company is Parlophone. This means that the record was produced in 1969 or earlier. In 1970, the logo changed to a black label with silver writing.

Check Music Price Guide and Pop Sike to see if they have a listing for the artist and album or song name. Though many albums and songs may have multiple artists, it is possible to narrow down the possibilities by album cover and recording company. If they have a listing for your particular album, you may be able to find the year it was produced.

Look up the album in the latest edition of the Goldmine Record Album Price Guide. This is the definitive book when it comes to identifying vinyl records, along with their value. Unfortunately, there is no website to correspond with the book. You must either buy the book or check on out at a local library.

Warning

In some cases, there are multiple printings in different years of the same album by the exact same artist. If that is the case with your vinyl record, then the catalog number may be the only true way to determine an exact or approximate age of the record.

About the Author

Melissa Martinez has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2003. She specializes in Web content and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle" and is now the section editor for a minor league sports news wire. She attended Seattle University.