Jan 25, 2023

With the resurgence of vinyl in recent years, more and more of us want to invest in original vinyl records. However, it can be difficult to tell an original pressing from a reissue. In this article, we will give you the keys to help you identify an original pressing.

What is an original pressing ?

An original pressing is the very first release of a vinyl record. It is usually pressed in smaller quantities than reissues, which makes it more valuable to collectors.

Why might I be interested in owning original vinyl pressings ?

First of all, original vinyl represents a certain guarantee of the authenticity of the sound recorded at the time. There is indeed a significant difference in sound and liveliness between an original vinyl and some reissues. This can be explained by the prints themselves, the difference in materials used and the thickness of the vinyl.

Original vinyl also has a certain economic value. This is the main purpose of many original vinyls produced in limited editions in the 60s and 70s. The rarity of a vinyl can greatly increase its price.

Some original pressings even have unique flaws that further increase their value.

There are several ways to distinguish an original pressing from a reissue.

1. Release Date:
Original pressings are first released at an earlier date than the reissues.

2. Matrix number:
This is a set of letters and numbers that are etched into the dead wax on both sides of a record, i.e. in the empty space between the label and the beginning of the grooves.


3. Sleeve:
- Original sleeves usually have a different design than reissues.
- If there is a barcode on the sleeve of a record supposedly released before 1970, it is a reissue.

- The sleeves of original vinyls published before 1980 are generally not in good condition. Some reissues may be in much better condition.

4. Label :
The label usually shows the pressing number, music label, release date, and other elements that identify the pressing of a disc.


5. Condition:
Original vinyls generally have normal wear and tear from use over time, while reissues may be new.

6. Sound :
The original pressings have a warmer, richer sound than the reissues. The grain is different, due to different pressing techniques and materials.

7. Licenses and logos: There are several. As an example:
The mono or stereo mention was invented in 1958. If it appears on a 1957 record, it is a reissue.
For French pressings:

-BIEM (Bureau International de l'Édition Mécanique) mention : original or re issues pre-1971..

The BIEM is an international organization controlling the reproduction rights and facilitating the exchanges between the various actors of the musical world and their customers.
It is based in France, but has 54 individual companies located in 59 different countries.


- Mention SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique) ou SACEM/BIEM : repress post-1971.

For foreign pressings, it is always possible to find the logo BIEM after 1971 and even today.

- It is important to note that for foreign pressings, the mentions vary according to the countries where the vinyls were pressed.

- On many records, you will come acrossBIEM followed by the name of the individual company corresponding to the country in which the record was pressed.
For example, if you see the mention GEMA/BIEM on a vinyl, it is a German pressing.


So, always be aware of the small details that can totally change the identity of a record. Keep in mind that some criteria vary depending on the country in which a vinyl was pressed, and does not necessarily mean that it is original or reissued.
Finally, it is important to note that even if you use all of these criteria, there can be exceptions and fakes, so it is important to ensure authenticity with reliable sellers.