As record sales increased in the 1970s so there were more gold and platinum discs awarded. For collectors, this makes them a little easier to find, although there’s still not exactly a glut on the market. What you really want to look for are the American RIAA award discs, which are easily identifiable by the plaques on them.
It was in the 1970s that these award discs underwent a great change, from the white matte style that had begun in the 60s to what was called the “floater” style. This used a black matte, with the small reproduction of the album cover and the RIAA award plaque set upwards, so they appeared to “float.” Introduced in 1976, it was first used for the Eagles Hotel California LP.
So, for the first half of the 1970s, you should expect to find awards discs on the older, white matte background. If for some reason they’re not, you might do well to be a little suspicious. Conversely, if you come across an award album from the second half of the decade on a white matte, then you know it’s a fake. To be fair, fakes don’t happen that often (there’s simply not enough money in it), but they’ve been known to exist.
Beware, too, of dealers offering “gold” records. These aren’t award discs, simply a gold coloured LP or CD, and with no extra intrinsic value at all.
With that out of the way, you can take a look at what’s available to collect. The chances of assembling a collection of award discs by one group or artist are very small indeed – not enough crop up on the market to make it feasible. If you’re going to collect, you’ll have to look at what’s available, and there are never any guarantees as to what will come up.
What to BuyArtefacts of some artists are more desirable than those of others. For example, a Barbara Streisand gold disc from 1974 only managed £175 at auction, whilst a Procol Harum 1972 gold disc went for £300.
David Bowie, at his peak during the 1970s, will cost you anywhere from $400-750, depending on the item (if you could find an award disc for Ziggy Stardust, that would be the Bowie jackpot). That’s a lot more than Elton John, whose award discs can only manage in the £250-300 range – surprisingly low for such an iconic figure.
You’ll be hard pressed to find Zeppelin award albums from the period, even though virtually all of their recording was done in the 1970s. However, for fans, there was one for the box set of CDs, coming from the 1990s, and quite a steal at £650.
The ultimate, as in everything else, is an award disc for John Lennon, and those are like the proverbial hen’s teeth – if you find one, it’s probably worth the auction price. As an example, a 1968 gold disc for a single brought £1,800. Since he earned fewer of them during the 1970s, expect to pay £2,000+ - if you can even find one.