10 Records You Might Have Owned That Are Now Worth a Fortune

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What goes around comes around, and we don't just mean records on a turntable. Audiophiles swear by the sound quality of vinyl over CDs, MP3s, and other files, and now younger generations are starting to see the light. Vinyl sales continue to increase each year as CD sales drop, which means that more and more young people are borrowing albums from their parents or buying their own, while those who grew up with them are perhaps dusting off their cherished collections.

New records are typically more expensive than other formats, but fans would argue that the listening experience and ability to hold the music in your hands is worth the premium. There is also a culture of collecting that comes with switching to vinyl that could pay off big time, if you know what you have or what to look for. First pressings by big acts like The Beatles or Bruce Springsteen, and finds like misprints and pressings with alternate covers, can greatly increase the value of vinyl if the copies are kept in pristine condition. Before you dig through those crates to listen to your favorite throwback LP or 45-RPM single, make sure that what you're holding isn't worth a full semester of college. Here are some records that you may have (or used to have) that are worth way more than their original sticker price.

1. BOB DYLAN // THE FREEWHEELIN’ BOB DYLAN (1963)

Dylan’s second album changed a bit just before it was supposed to be released in 1963, and those track changes can mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars if your copy falls on the right side of the fence. According to Record Mecca, four songs were replaced with newly recorded tracks, but somehow, someone at the pressing plant used the old version instead of the new masters to press an unknown number of albums. Since the album’s release, only a couple stereo copies of the mistake pressings have surfaced, and less than two dozen of the mono copies are known to exist. Thought to be one of the most valuable records in the world, a mint copy of the former once sold for $35,000.

2. THE BEATLES // THE BEATLES (WHITE ALBUM) (1968)

The Beatles's self-titled double album (which later became known as the White Album) originally released in 1968, but not all copies were created equal. The members of the band and executives at the studio were given copies stamped with serial numbers that began with A00000, each in consecutive order (A000001, A000002, etc.). The very first copy, which Clifford J. Yamasaki of Let It Be Records purchased from an executive at Capitol Records in the 1970s, sold in 2013 for $35,000, a year after the copy with serial number A0000023 sold at auction for $13,750. The odds that you once owned a copy of the album that had a low serial number are slim to none, but not impossible.

3. DAVID BOWIE // DIAMOND DOGS (1974)

Discogs

The original version of this album was withdrawn because the cover artwork featured a dog’s genitals. The label, RCA, reportedly “got nervous” and decided to airbrush the area out for the final version, but some employees were smart enough to keep the originals. Back in 2003, a copy sold on eBay for $3550. Given the amount of time that has passed since then, and the unfortunate fact that Bowie is now deceased, and you can imagine what these rare copies would sell for today.

4. SEX PISTOLS // "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN"/"NO FEELINGS" 7-INCH (1977)

As the story goes, English punk rock band the Sex Pistols were signed in early March 1977 by A&M Records, and then famously dropped from the label only six days later because of their behavior. When it decided to cut ties with the band, the record company had already pressed 25,000 copies of their single “God Save the Queen.” The order was given for the records to be destroyed, but over the past 39 years, nine copies have surfaced and have sold for upward of $8600. No one knows how many copies are still unaccounted for, but someone surely has to be lucky number 10.

5. HANK MOBLEY // BLUE NOTE 1568 (1957)

Between 300 and 1000 copies of this jazz record were released in 1957, and there is one small change that makes them more valuable than other records from the label. According to The Vinyl Factory, the rumor is that Blue Note ran out of labels halfway through the first pressing of the album. The standard address for the record label is 47 West 63rd NYC, but some of the records have labels that say 47 West 63rd New York 23 on one side. There is some debate about the value though, as one record that did not have the special label still sold for over $10,000 on eBay.

6. THE BEATLES // PLEASE PLEASE ME (1963)

According to the Beatles Collecting Guide, the album Please Please Me was released in a hurry on March 22, 1963 in Great Britain. There were multiple pressings of the album in the first year, but collectors pay attention to the labels to tell which is the rarest of them all. The very first pressing features gold lettering on a black label and is considered the “holy grail” for Beatles fans. The mono version in mint condition is worth a few hundred bucks, while the stereo version is said to be four times as valuable (in the $4200 range). If you or your parents were riding the wave with Paul and the boys from the beginning, hopefully someone had the foresight not to open the copy.

7. THE BEATLES // YESTERDAY AND TODAY (1966)

The original “butcher” cover of this record was not well-received, so Capitol Records spent $250,000 recalling the 750,000 copies that had already been shipped to stores. The covers were changed, but as with most recalls, some of the original copies remained out in the world and have been sold for as much as $15,300. If you unknowingly inherited one of those strays, it’s time to cash in.

8. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN // “SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT” 7-INCH (1973)

Collector John Marshall of moneymusic.com once told Los Angeles radio station K-Earth that Springsteen’s first release with Columbia Records can fetch as much as $5000. Discogs lists “never” as the last time a copy was sold on the website, but if you found and held onto a copy, you could be the first.

9. THE ROLLING STONES // "STREET FIGHTING MAN”/”NO EXPECTATION" (1968)

According to the listing for a record that Bonhams sold for $17,000, the original picture sleeve for the American release of The Rolling Stones’ single “Street Fighting Man” (with “No Expectations” on the b-side) featured a photograph of police brutality during riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention. The record label decided it was too controversial and withdrew the sleeves. Bonhams estimates that there are between 10 and 18 copies out in the world.

10. NIRVANA // BLEACH RE-RELEASE (1992)

When Bleach was initially released in 1989, the first printing was limited to 1000 copies, which were sold to music fans at Lamefest in Seattle. Those copies are now worth a couple hundred dollars, but they are not the most valuable. The label Sub Pop experimented with different marbling techniques for the subsequent pressings, and one in particular could now worth around $1500. More of a bundle than a singular record, the red and white marbled LP was shrink-wrapped with a blue 7-inch, and there were only 500 numbered sets made.

10 Historically Disappointing Time Capsules

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eag1e/iStock via Getty Images

Unearthing a time capsule should be an exciting affair, a chance to see mysterious items hand-picked long ago as apposite examples of a bygone era. Unfortunately, these buried tubes of old garbage rarely live up to the hype.

"Ninety-nine percent of time capsules will remain boring as hell to the people that open them," says Matt Novak, who runs Gizmodo's Paleofuture site. Novak is a self-professed time capsule nerd who has seen enough capsule disappointments to keep his hopes in check. "Time capsules are both optimistic and selfish," he tells Mental Floss. "Optimistic in the sense that they represent a belief that not only will anyone find them sometime in the future, but also that anyone will care about what's inside."

Time capsules as we know them are a relatively new invention that became famous in 1939 with the burial of the Westinghouse Time Capsule at the World's Fair. This highly publicized capsule, which is not scheduled to be opened until the year 6939, contains both quotidian items and extensive writings on human history printed on microfilm (along with instructions on how to build a microfilm viewer). It was an ambitious project, with engineers specially designing the capsule to resist the ravages of time. Most time capsules, however, aren't equipped to be buried underground.

"Burying something is literally the worst way to preserve it for future generations," Novak says, "but we continue to do it." Contents are routinely destroyed by groundwater, so most time capsules reveal little more than trash chowder.

Still, Novak holds out hope for "rare one percenters—those time capsules that not only have something interesting inside, but also survived their journey into the future without turning into mush." The following 10 time capsules, however, fall firmly in the remaining 99 percent.

1. Derry, New Hampshire comes up empty

Just this week, residents of Derry, New Hampshire gathered at the local library to witness what they hoped might be an important moment in the town's history: the opening of a 1969 time capsule, which they believed might include some memorabilia from famed astronaut Alan Shepard, who was a Derry native. Instead, they found ... nothing. Absolutely nothing.

"We were a little horrified to find there was nothing in it," library director Cara Potter told the media. While there's no written record of exactly what was inside the safe, we do know that the time capsule had been moved a couple of times over the past several decades. And that the combination was written right on the back. "I really can’t understand why anyone would want to take the capsule and do anything with it,” Reed Clark, a 90-year-old local, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. But local historian Paul Lindemann says that, "There very well may have been valuable items in there" (including something of Shepard's).

2. The past comes alive in Tucson

In 1961, Tucson, Arizona's Campbell Plaza shopping center—the first air-conditioned strip mall in the country—celebrated its grand opening. To make the event truly memorable, developers buried a time capsule beneath the mall, forbidding anyone from opening it for the achingly long time period of 25 years.

When 1986 finally rolled around, another celebration was held for the capsule's unearthing. Three television crews captured the moment when workers, accompanied by a former Tucson mayor, excavated the capsule and cracked it open. Archaeologist William L. Rathje was on hand, and he later reported its contents as "a faded local newspaper (in worse condition than many I’ve witnessed being excavated from the bowels of landfills) and some business cards."

3. Bay City makes peace with its waterlogged history

In 1965, workers at Dafoe Shipbuilding Co. in Bay City, Michigan buried the “John F. Kennedy Peace Capsule.” It was to remain buried for 100 years—until city council members got antsy in 2015 and ordered for it to be unearthed five decades sooner than originally intended.

When crews unsealed the giant capsule, they found it was totally drenched: The shipbuilders responsible for sealing the capsule couldn't prevent it from taking on water. Many of the items were paper ephemera that didn't survive their 50-year submersion.

Non-paper items that could be identified included, according to MLive.com, “an old pair of lace-up women's boots, large ice tongs for carrying blocks of ice, a slide rule with a pencil sharpener, a pestle and wooden bowl, a centennial ribbon, a coffee grinder, a filament light bulb, an old non-electric iron and lots of Bay City Centennial plates, a 1965 Alden's Summer Catalogue, papers from Kawkawlin Community Church, and booklets from the labor council.”

4. Westport Elementary's too-successful capsule

In 1947, the superintendent of Westport Elementary School in Missouri buried a time capsule that wasn't to be opened for another 50 years. He left a note detailing this fact, but he forgot to include any information about the capsule's location. When it came time to retrieve it, no one knew where to start digging. ''We're calling it a history mystery,'' said a teacher who was tasked with finding it. She had little to go on, as the school's original blueprints—like the capsule itself—were lost.

5. The smell of history on Long Island

For its 350th anniversary in 2015, the residents of Smithtown in Long Island, New York opened a time capsule that had been buried in front of town hall in 1965. An unveiling celebration was held, and a crowd of more than 175 gathered to watch town officials dressed in colonial costumes dramatically reveal its contents.

These included, according to Newsday, "a proclamation of beard-growing group Brothers of the Brush, papers, and paraphernalia from the town's 300th anniversary events, a phone book, an edition of The Smithtown News, pennies from the 1950s and '60s, a man's black hat, and a white bonnet.”

Town residents and officials alike came away unimpressed. "I would have thought those folks would have used a little more imagination and put some artifacts from that time in the time capsule," Smithtown's then-supervisor Patrick Vecchio said.

Kiernan Lannon, the executive director of the town's Historical Society, told Newsday, "The most interesting thing that came out of the time capsule was the smell. It was horrible. I have smelled history before; history does not smell like that. It was the most powerfully musty smell that I've ever smelled in my life."

6. A time capsule worse than going to class

In 2014, New York Mills Union Free School District students filed into an assembly hall to watch the opening of a 57-year-old time capsule. The capsule, buried under the school’s cornerstone, was revealed to contain "a 1957 penny, class lists, teacher handbook, budget pamphlet, and letterhead." In a video of the unearthing, you could hear stray boos from disappointed students who expected much more than letterhead.

7. Norway's anachronistic treasure trove

The residents of Otta, Norway had been eagerly awaiting the day when they'd get to open a package that had been sealed in 1912 and given to the town's first mayor in 1920, along with a note: "May be opened in 2012." Townspeople hoped it contained oil futures, while historians optimistically predicted relics from a 400-year-old battle.

The parcel was opened at the end of a lavish ceremony that featured musical performances and speeches. The crowd, which included Princess Astrid of Norway, had to wait 90 suspenseful minutes (in addition to the 100 years since 1912) before they got down to business.

The Gudbrandsdal museum's Kjell Voldheim had the honor of opening the package. Inside he found ... another package. Inside that package were miscellaneous papers, and Voldheim narrated for the crowd as he pored through the items. “Oye yoy yoy," he said ("almost in exasperation," according to Smithsonian), as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Included among the lackluster documents were newspapers dated from 1914 and 1919, a few years after the package had presumably been sealed. While deemed authentic, the find was nonetheless confusing.

8. New Zealand's rare find

In 1995, a 100-year-old capsule thought to contain historical documents was opened by hopeful scholars in New Zealand. According to The New York Times, "all they found was muddy water and a button.”

9. Michigan's capitol mess

The Michigan State Capitol celebrated its 100th birthday in 1979, and officials marked the occasion by opening a capsule that had been buried beneath the building's cornerstone. While the itemized list of the capsule's contents was intriguing—"1873 newspapers, a state history, a history of Free Masonry, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a silver plate inscribed with Lansing officials’ names, and other papers on specialized topics"—it wasn't included in the actual box. The actual items that were buried wound up being destroyed.

“They’re in very bad shape,” Robert Warner, the late director of the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, said. Water damage had ruined the fragile paper documents, and Capitol anniversary revelers had to gamely celebrate a box full of sludge.

10. Keith Urban's time capsule confusion

Australia's Pioneer Village Country Music Hall had been left in disrepair, which is what made the discovery of a plaque on its grounds in 2014 so exciting. Perhaps there was promise buried beneath the abandoned venue. Hidden behind overgrown vegetation, it read:

Pioneer Village Country Music Club
10 yr Time Capsule
Placed by Mayor Yvonne Chapman
This Day 4th July 1994
To be Re-opened 4th July 2004

As recounted by Paleofuture, the capsule's opening was a decade overdue, though fans who used to frequent the music hall said they already knew what was inside: a photo of a young Keith Urban. The musician got his start at Pioneer Village, and the photo was buried to celebrate the local star.

Oddly, a different capsule from 1994 was discovered on the music hall's abandoned grounds in 2013. Keith Urban fans eagerly opened it, thinking they had found the photo, but were left disappointed when it proved to be empty. So, by process of elimination, a photo of Keith Urban had to be in the more recently discovered capsule. Unless there's a third capsule, in which case they should probably just give up and buy a Keith Urban photo on eBay.

This story has been updated for 2019.

The 25 Best Colleges in America

Vasyl Dolmatov/iStock via Getty Images
Vasyl Dolmatov/iStock via Getty Images

The college decision process is always a tough one, but review site Niche's annual rankings of the best colleges in America make it easier for prospective students (and their parents) to narrow down the choices to find the best fit. The 2020 list takes a variety of factors into account, including student life, admissions, finances, and student reviews. But the most important factor in their methodology, comprising 40 percent of a school's overall rating, is academics, which, according to the Niche website, looks at "acceptance rate, quality of professors, as well as student and alumni surveys regarding academics at the school."

Taking the number one spot on Niche's list for the second year in a row is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by Stanford University in the number two spot (again, for the second year in a row). Six of America's eight Ivy League schools made it into the top 10.

Here are the 25 Best Colleges in America for 2020, according to Niche's rankings.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology // Cambridge, MA

  1. Stanford University // Stanford, CA

  1. Yale University // New Haven, CT

  1. Harvard University // Cambridge, MA

  1. Princeton University // Princeton, NJ

  1. Duke University // Durham, NC

  1. Brown University // Providence, RI

  1. Columbia University // New York, NY

  1. University of Pennsylvania // Philadelphia, PA

  1. Rice University // Houston, TX

  1. Northwestern University // Evanston, IL

  1. Vanderbilt University // Nashville, TN

  1. Pomona College // Claremont, CA

  1. Washington University in St. Louis // St. Louis, MO

  1. Dartmouth College // Hanover, NH

  1. California Institute of Technology // Pasadena, CA

  1. University of Notre Dame // Notre Dame, IN

  1. University of Chicago // Chicago, IL

  1. University of Southern California // Los Angeles, CA

  1. Cornell University // Ithaca, NY

  1. Bowdoin College // Brunswick, ME

  1. Amherst College // Amherst, MA

  1. University of Michigan // Ann Arbor, MI

  1. Georgetown University // Washington DC

  1. Tufts University // Medford, MA

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