Those were usually promotional copies sent to record dealers and stores for demo purposes. The little notch or hole cut in the cover meant to make it imperfect for sale.
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It is what is known as a "Cut-Out"
Cut-outs are records which have been cut or drilled in order to indicate they have been sold at a discount price. Cut-outs are predominantly a US phenomenon is used mainly by distributors to prevent dealers trying to return discount items for a full refund.
Some labels and even record stores have used the same method to prevent returns.
It has also occasionally been used to identify promotional items, which have been given away, including those given away to radio stations.
Both of the two reasons are true.
Cut corners, notches, and 'BB' holes were used to mark Lps taht could not be returned for credit. (Either by the consumer, retailer, or distributor)
The notch was usually for actual overstock, being sold off at a big discount.
BB holes, and cut off corners were more often giveaways, as promos, but could (seldom) also be ordinary overstock.
Same with CDs. The circle cut into the barcode is always a promo, and the side of the jewelcase sawcut is overstock.
Nrchy sez: "Usually they were left over from overpressing LPs that ended up not selling for full price."
This is true, and I know Nrchy was not trying to say this, but it does not always mean that the record is the gazillionth one produced from the master and of poorer quality. I have heard some folks equate the two and it is just wrong.
I have many outstanding recording that are notched. In the case of classical, some jazz, some off-beat rock, and especially my favorite bluegrass scores lotd of titles were produced in relatively limited numbers for a limited market. So, depending on the title, label, and genre, they can be a heck of a bargain if the seller thinks they are in some way inferior.
Thanks, everyone....I've been jumping on "unopened, still-sealed" listings for LP's after several instances of buying "mint" used records of supposedly MFSL audiophile quality, that are 'scratchy' when played.
Aggressive cleaning (VPI machine w/RRL's fluids and felt brushes... "Last" "Groove-Glide"....nothing gets rid of the 'scratchiness' surface noise. These records look great w/ no obvious scratches on them!
Any other suggestions? I'll post this in a new thread, I guess...
I'll take a notched record album cover over a scratchy sounding record any day.
(Although, most of these still-sealed recordings have warped edges from improper storage.....can't win! ;(