Test Pressings - one of the top items that collectors strive to find. Usually created in extremely limited numbers, they are a great addition to any collection. That's why when an eBay auction appeared in April 2008 for a vinyl test pressing of Licensed To Ill a lot of us were excited.
It was a bit odd that the auction was a twenty four hour auction as normally you would expect this sort of auction to go for a week so that more people could see it, but a day it was and so potential buyers had to scramble. The end result was US$250 which seemed expensive but still a fair price for a Test Pressing that none of us had seen before for the classic Beastie Boys album, and the winner was a fellow collector from Germany.
I was disappointed that I had not won and thought that was the end of it, until I received a 'second chance offer' on eBay. I was not the only person though. Another collector on the Beastiemania team also received a second chance email for $150 - substantially lower than the 1st and 2nd place bids. Seeing a bargain, he purchased the record. We were both a bit curious why the seller had offered both 2nd and 3rd place bidders the record and especially at the reduced price, but we were both happy that one of us was going to get it.
What happened next was where things started to get even weirder. The seller (everlaster-2007) suddenly had another Beastie Boys Test Pressing, again ending in twenty four hours, this time for the Hey Ladies 7". Checking the images on the two auctions, the handwriting on the vinyl labels was exactly the same. Suspicions were raised, but with less than 24 hours to research, it was a chance we were willing to take to own another Test Pressing. This auction ended at a cheaper price (US$58) partly due to this simply being for a 7" single and also due to the odd circumstances of the previous auction that had just ended.
Within the next day we did as much research as we could contacting people, and even receiving emails from other people watching the auctions...
"Since you're a Beastie boy expert take a look at the Beastie Boys test pressing that you paid all of that money from Everlaster-2000.
This guy takes regular records then removes the labels and either adds his own fake test pressing labels, or just leaves the labels white and writes numbers on them.
He even add numbers such as TP-1 and TP_2 to the trail-offs on the records, but if the stock copy has the same numbers and letters made the same way and in the same positions it's impossible for the test pressing to have them in the same position, made the same way but with added numbers unless the extra numbers are scratched out which you'd see on the stock copy's trail-off.
Even if different plates were made for the stock copies, it would be impossible for the numbers to be written the same way and in the same position.
This guy uses the name Susan King, and already had several other E-bay IDs removed for selling fakes.
West_wind_corner for example.
You paid serious money for a fake"
Talking to other people who had also bought things from the buyer revealed a lot of people who were not happy, and coincidence or not, the seller turned his feedback to private that day so no one could check comments other buyers had left him.
The seller had been auctioning other Test Pressings in the past, and all from major artists ranging from different eras and genres: Led Zepplin, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Police, Elvis, AC/DC... And at first we had assumed he worked in a record pressing plant, but his records were sent out with record store receipts from when he supposedly bought them.
Now that both auctions had finished, what should happen next? You guessed it, a third Test Pressing was listed on eBay - Fight For Your Right to Party 7".
By this time, neither of us was willing to throw down more money on a potential fake and decided to steer clear of this one. It was picked up cheaply by someone in Germany.
Eight days later eBay sent out "Listing Removed" emails to anyone who had bid on the Licensed To Ill or Hey Ladies auctions, stating "Unfortunately, eBay has removed this. All bids or offers on this listing have been cancelled. Because the listing was ended, you no longer have any obligation to purchase this item". Obviously over a week after the auction finished was way too late.
We now had to wait until the records arrived. Licensed To Ill came first and things were not looking good. The vinyl labels could easily be lifted from the record, and although no other label was underneath, how often do you see records with liftable labels? But what tipped the scales was the handwriting. The same person who wrote on the vinyl-labels had written on the record store receipt AND on the address sending out the parcel! If you're going make up some fake receipt, at least get some one with different handwritting to do it; and as for addressing the parcel!?
The Hey Ladies 7" arrived soon after and despite the vinyl labels not coming off, the hand writing was again exactly the same on the labels, receipt and parcel.
Convinced we had received fakes, we both started proceedings with Paypal to get our money back. It has taken a while, but it worked out in the end.
As all of the seller's auctions were removed and his account suspended, we could not contact the winner of the Fight For Your Right 7", but we hope they got their money back.