Another visual effect sometimes found attached to record covers, was the 3D card or window. This was a
very popular technique used in the 1950's and 60's, for showing 3D motion on a 2 dimensional surface. These ribbed plastic windows found their way
as toys, into Cracker Jacks and cereal boxes. Two of the more popular examples of this optical illusion was the Rolling Stones "Their Satanic Magesties Request" (London NPS-2) and Captain Beyond's self titled debut album (Capricorn CP-0105).
As in the case of the "die-cut" record covers, these 3-D versions only appeared on the early pressings and were eventually
replaced with plain looking paper images.
Not surprisingly, the value of the three dimensional version of the Stones cover is nearly 4 times greater than the standard paper version. Additionally, the value is 10 to 15 times
greater than the plain paper copy, if the record appears in monaural.
For the collector that has never been exposed to anything other than the typical 12x12 square record cover, a substantial number of "shaped" covers soon appeared on the store shelves. The two examples seen here, are Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" (Island SW-9306) which gave the multiple appearances of a three dimensional room.
And Grand Funk Railroad's "E Pluribus Funk" (Capitol 853), which resembles a shiny coin and conforms perfectly to the shape of the 12 inch disc.
Obviously a person, who has a collection which is comprised entirely of compact discs (CDs), is at a definite disadvantage when it comes to all the visual effects and additional information found on the typical record cover.
After all, there is only so much you can do with a 5 inch by 5 inch plastic case.
Last but not least, for the fan who appreciates a record cover with a little "texture", you might try looking into a copy of the Bee Gees "Odessa" (Atco SD-2-702). The cardboard base of this cover, was surrounded with red felt material and embossed in gold colored lettering. On the inside of the gatefold sleeve is an an elaborate graphic background.
If you were fortunate in acquiring an early version of this disc, you would have yourself a rather attractive record cover.
To sum things up, it is apparent that the record cover serves more than just one purpose. Granted, the protection of the disc is of greater importance. But it also informs, educates and entertains the collector or fan of the respective group and deserves a category of its own. Hence, buyers and sellers of records generally include a grading of the cover much the same as the record.
According to the Goldmine grading method:
"Most dealers give a separate grade to the record and it's sleeve or cover. In an ad, a record's grade is listed first, followed by that of the sleeve or the jacket."
It still doesn't get top billing. But it doesn't need to.