Saturday, January 12, 2013

Those Avenue company sleeves...

Last weekend I was in Brighton, snooping around the second-hand emporium which is Snoopers' Paradise. While there, I spotted a copy of the Avenue EP, AVE 89, inside the sleeve pictured below. I wasn't sure at the time whether I already had AVE 89 in my collection, but something about the sleeve caught my eye and so my £1 coin was duly tendered.

Collectors all know that these sleeves exist in a range of colours, but there is another difference between this one and the one below, which is of the usual design, namely the way the retail price is printed on it.

The top example has the price apparently stamped on, as if with a rubber stamp. There are also traces where the previous sleeve had transferred a little ink from its own stamp, before it had dried. Maybe this kind of trivia is of no interest to some collectors, but it got me wondering how many different versions of the sleeve actually exist. A bit of Googling turned up another hand-stamped example, from the site,

Of course, this one is different again, so it falls to me, as ever, to invent a theory...

There are examples of the basic Avenue sleeve circulating with no price on at all. There are a few (quite scarce) with the price 3/11, and many more - the most common variant - with a price of 5/-. (For non-UK readers, I should explain that these are currency formats from the days before the UK adopted decimal currency. 3/11 means three shillings and eleven pence, whereas 5/- means five shillings.)

So this is what I think happened. The unpriced sleeves were in use initially, but for whatever reason, Avenue decided it wanted to have the retail price stated on. So it began hand stamping 3/11 onto their stock of blanks, as per the green sleeve above, before getting a better rubber stamp which also showed the decimal equivalent price. (I do believe from the evidence that this was around the start of 1969 despite the fact that the UK did not go decimal until February 1971. After all, preparations for decimalisation covered several years - for example the 10p coin was introduced in 1968, and so there was a fairly long process of adjustment, and decimal prices started coming in long before D-day.)   

Then, Avenue did the appropriate thing and started having sleeves manufactured with pre-printed prices in the oblong boxes, which is how virtually all of them appear. The pre-printed 3/11 variant can't have lasted long though, given its relative scarcity, as the 5/- version accounts for the vast majority to be found while out record hunting.

Putting your records in the right sleeves is a nice thing to do, but there's no way of being certain which EPs Avenue issued in which sleeves. We do know that there are three basic types - plain, 3/11 and 5/- - and that there are six colours in existence. Putting to one side the rare hand stamped examples above, that makes for 18 different basic sleeves in the Avenue rainbow. Some examples are shown below, including one of each colour.

We'd love to hear from anyone out there who has any further varieties in their collection...


  1. Theres one more I will find it in my store room.

  2. Wow - that would be great. If you can get an image to me, even better - I'll put it on the blog. The email address is at the top of the page.