How to Tell What Year a Vinyl Record was Made

Vinyl records have been around since the 1930s. Those flat plastic discs were designed to be placed onto turntables to playback music. They remained popular for about 60 years before they fell off in in the early 90s. By the 2000s consumers could not purchase vinyl records unless they found them in speciality stores that provided this format. Record companies still produced them; but they were primarily used for DJ’s, special promos and for special event organizers. They were also sold to select consumers who were willing to pay more for vinyl copies of music.

Most young music consumers today never played a record on a turntable. They might not be familiar with records or the music artists who made them. Some people who are old enough to remember vinyl records would also have a hard time dating some of the discs. This is because some musical groups in the past were not that famous or had songs that were one-time hits. So, how can a person date a vinyl record that was made within a specific year? The information listed below will explain this process.

Check the Album’s Front or Back Cover

A number of old vinyl records leaning up against some old boxes

If you have a vinyl record that has a jacket or cover, this is the first place you would check for the date when the album was released. If the album doesn’t have any date for that quickly tells you the release date, then you can check the label on the middle part of the disc. All vinyl records have a label on the centre part of the disc. They normally will have information about the year the album was released to the public. If this label has been pulled off or the date is scratched off, then you will have to look at other information to get an idea about the album’s release date.

Check the History of the Artists who Made the Album

Normally, you can check the history of a vinyl album by looking up the artist. You can do an online search for the songs that appear on the vinyl disc. Nearly all albums have been classified and categorized on the internet. Even obscure artists and records from the early 30’s should also be categorized on the world wide web. Many people do this to archive dated records from the past. This is a great way to preserve them. All you have to do is put an artist name in a search field. This will usually turn up information about the albums and songs that an artist has released. The albums and songs that are listed will usually have the year the record was made.

Check Music Databases and Catalogues

Music databases (such as Discogs) and catalogues have a wealth of information about records. The people or groups that make these catalogues frequently update them. Most catalogues are online. This is because it is easier to update and change information electronically instead of frequently republishing information. Databases and catalogues that were made from previous are sometimes catalogued and contained within libraries and music companies. Some speciality publishing organizations or bookstores might keep track of database or catalogue information as well.

Other Ways you Can Check the Age of a Vinyl Record

Records that were made after 1973 had EAN codes. These codes are identification codes or bar codes. Any record that doesn’t have this code was made before 1973. Certain types of logos, symbols and even the type of font used on albums will also reveal when a vinyl disc was made. You will also find the matrix number of a record, this is usually hand or machine engraved around the record on the outside of the label on the non-playing section of the vinyl, you can sometimes search via this matrix on music databases such as Discogs are invaluable for record collectors but even their database does not contain all records, try searching Google for the matrix number and see what other catalogues and databases you hit. It can be a time-consuming process, hunting to find out when your record was pressed.

If you see a record with two overlapping circles, and you see a Magic Notes symbol with a microphone inside of the circles; that album was released between the late 30’s and the late 50’s. Other symbols such as a Parlophone tag written in yellow colour will reveal that a record was made in 1969 or at an earlier date. There are many different ways to date old vinyl records but all the above are the most common.

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