Pennyroyal Tea Single
Introduction: This page contains information about the sought after "Pennyroyal Tea" single by Nirvana.
Before we do anything I should say that on this page, two different versions of the single are discussed. One referred to as the 'Sonopress' version, and the other referred to as the '++++' version. The difference between these is described in a little bit. View the two scans, linked to above, to see the visual difference. Here are some keypoints, listing the two discs's main properties:
The 'Sonopress' Version [Confirmed to be 100% authentic]
The maxtrix number is: "Sonopress I-2211/Ged21907 A".
A small "2" is on the disc, in between 'boxes' (close to the matrix#).
The sleeve is 'crisp' and not blurry or otherwise distorted.
On the spine, the word "Nirvana" is in yellow. Rest is white.
The disc and/or sleeve has no spelling errors.
The single is usually being sold for $80 and up.
The printing on the disc is sorta violet.
The disc's non-playing surface could have the tag "IFPI 0793".
The disc's matrix looks a bit like the one of "Incesticide", with the boxes and stripe.
The '++++' Version [Originates from Sweden. Believed to be fake]
The maxtrix number is: "++++GED21907++++", with the +'s going all the way round the center.
Disc does not have a small print of the number "2".
Disc does not have an IFPI tag near the matrix number.
The text on the disc's non-playing surface misspells the word "Hiring" as "Hirinng".
On the spine, the word "Nirvana" is most likely in yellow. Rest is white.
The printing on the sleeve, especially the cover, may appear a bit blurry.
The single is mostly sold in Sweden, or otherwise originate from there.
The printing on the disc is black and not violet/purple'ish.
The single is sold for between $25-$65, approximately.
This single was scheduled to a release around April/May of 1994. MTV Europe reported a May 3, 1994 release date. The release was cancelled due to Kurt's death, but some copies did get out on the market. I believe France received most of the singles that got out, but some stores in Sweden also got a number of them as they had pre-booked it. A store in the Swedish city "Västerås" received eight copies of it. The single probably also reached stores in Germany, the rest of Scandinavia and the UK. The number of singles that got outside of Europe is very limited. The exact release number is unknown - I've heard anything from between 500 to 2000 copies being out there, the number is probably around the 2000. With this single being in such a limited quantity it is very difficult to find, and the stores who do have it are usually selling it for a high price. Anything from $40 to $1050 is the going price for it although it's usually being sold for around $3-400 USD. For some reason the single has been fairly easy to get in Sweden where it has sold in record stores for around $40 USD. I have a theory that several Swedish stores are selling fakes, more about that later.
To make things a bit confusing there are several versions of the single available. Some fakes [a.k.a. bootlegs] and some authentic. According to various sources the official, authentic, copy has got the line - matrix number - "Sonopress I-2211/Ged21907 A" etched into the inner metallic ring of the CD's playing surface and a mirror image "2" that could be read properly from the top of the CD, except it's obscured by the artwork, is also on the metallic ring. [Thanks to the HSMB user Jacob for this info]. You may view a scan of the matrix number and inner metallic ring here. [Courtesy of Mitch, Cory and digitalnirvana]. The official (authentic) copy can also be recognized by it's sleeve which is more "crisp". The printing on the bootleg sleeve is a bit blurry. The original sleeve is printed on a glossy sort of paper. John Bacus added the following tips on how to spot a fake; "I've seen a couple of the PRT counterfeits and am suggesting some more info for your FAQ. The fakes I did see have Nirvana in yellow on the spine. For people who are trying to tell if their version is "crisp enough," [I] suggest they look at the cookies and bottle cap on the upper left side of the cover. When you compare these to those on some of the scans you have they are clearly less sharp in this region." Special thanks to John Bacus for this information.
The bootlegs have the catalogue number (GED 21907) as the matrix number and loads of ++++'s round the center of the disc [like this: ++++GED21907++++], whereas the original has the matrix number: "Sonopress I-2211/Ged21907 A" printed around the center, as I just mentioned. [Thanks to Simon Wright for this info]. The 'A' should be over painted with the white "art". This white "art" is on the front of the disc and should go all the way around into the metal ring. Apparently with fake copies, the white "art" ends before the metal ring - and this one has the 'Sonopress' thing etched, not the ++++'s and the GED catalogue number. [Thanks to Jonas Gustafsson and SnaggY for this info].
Dominik Wolter also added that his copy of the single, which has the ++++'s rather than 'Sonopress', actually has a spelling error on the actual disc. In the far edge of the CD, all the way around there is a text with some copyright disclaimer. In the disclaimer there is the word "hiring". This word is misspelled, as it says "hirinng" instead. This spelling error is apparently on all (or most) copies of the '++++' version, while the spelling error is NOT present on the 'Sonopress' version. So, this could indicate that the '++++' version is indeed fake as suggested in the paragraph above.
The 'Sonopress' one should look like the 'Sonopress' copy of Incesticide, with the boxes and the stripe. Some people claim that the one with the ++++'s and GED 21907 etched on the disc, described above, is also real. I no longer believe it is. View a scan of it's matrix number and inner metallic ring here. I do know that if the CD doesn't have either of these lines etched into it, it is indeed a fake [bootleg].
It can, however, be more difficult to spot a fake since some of those out there are very well done. There are copies of both the 'Sonopress' and '++++' versions which are also fake. Apparently they can be recognized by one thing -- The sleeve is a bit blurry and it says this: GED 21907 NIRVANA "PENNYROYAL TEA" GEFFEN on the sides. It should say this in white text but the "NIRVANA" part should be in yellow text, not white. So with the fakes it's all in white text, including the "NIRVANA" part. This goes for fakes of both the 'Sonopress' and '++++' versions.
About the pressings: There were most likely two or more pressings of it. Most of the discs in the pressings were destroyed. Either run over by a truck or melted down. [Thanks to Jonas Gustafsson and SnaggY for this info]. Apart from the CD version there might also be at least two vinyls of it available. One that might have the catalogue number GFST66, under Geffen UK, containing only the first track (and therefore a promo). Dave Benne noted that this catalogue number actually belongs to the 'All Apologies' 12" single and it's therefore not likely that the Pennyroyal Tea vinyl has the same catalogue number.
Dave also noted that; " I have recently obtained a photo of the Pennyroyal Tea promo CD [Thanks to digitalnirvana.net and Dave for the scan]. There is indeed a catalog number (NIRPRO) on the CD, and NIRPRO1 is printed on the matrix ring. I'm being told by multiple sources that it is the real thing, even though it has some obvious printing errors." This promo contains no inlay and should be worth no less than £800!
Back to the vinyl promo: It is a plain white sleeve-one track on 7" black vinyl. Its estimated value is $750. The other vinyl is with two tracks, "Pennyroyal Tea" and "I hate myself and want to die". This one is also on 7" black vinyl and is housed in a picture sleeve. Its estimated value is $500. [Thanks to the Nirvana Vinyl Collector's Guide for this information]. According to British Record Collector magazine, it was a 7" test pressing only pressed in 10 copies, and it has an estimated value of £800. Do let me know if you find this item :) The vinyls are very very difficult to find [thus the high value] and some believe they either don't exist, or are fakes. I don't know what to think since I haven't seen scans of them at all. Craig Stewart read in a magazine that there were only 10 vinyl copies of the Pennyroyal Tea single produced. They were destroyed the week they were going to be released, which supposedly was shortly after Kurt died. Again I'm not sure if that is true but I do believe that some of the vinyls survived.
The regular CD single contains three songs: "Pennyroyal Tea [Scott Lit Remix], "I hate myself and want to die" plus "Where did you sleep last night" [From MTV Unplugged]. You can find a scan of the beautiful cover art on the top left of this answer.
News! Juho Koli from Finland provided the following interesting information about the single: "Here in Finland, were at the time of the release, of the single, only 2 stores lucky enough to receive a shipment of it. One was "Osku's second hand shop" in Helsinki, and the other was a store in Savonlinna, also selling new and used records, as "Osku's". Both shops received less than a dozen copies, so the total amount of sold copies in Finland must be somewhere around 20 unit's. I managed to get my copy a year ago, I gave the guy 2 Nirvana bootlegs for it, and he was extremely happy! The Nirvana collector scene is quite small here, I know 7 guys who have the single." - thanks Juho! Apparently the single has been available in the US store "Sam Goody". Craig Stewart says that at least five copies of it were available at the local department of the store at one point.
The following information was provided by Mitch and digitalnirvana.net; the 'white art' I mentioned earlier is actually called a 'doily'. A doily is a lace or linen ornamental mat. The one pictured on the top of the Ptea single is a doily for a tea cup. The discs must be from different pressings. The Doily on Mitch's disc is the same size as the one on Cory's and DOES touch the matrix ring. The type set on the top of the artwork are identical and both are very sharp and clear. The real difference between the discs, as shown in the images, is the "IFPI 0793" thing that is on my copy. The "IFPI 0793" is on many of my other Nirvana singles (both domestic and import). The "IFPI 0793" is also ETCHED into the plastic... it's not pressed into the metal, it's IN THE PLASTIC... it's much smaller than the matrix number. Since it's in the plastic, it also mirrors off of the metal underneath it making it a little hard to read. - Special thanks to Mitch for this info.
Notice that I don't know any specific stores that will sell you this single but it is definitely worth checking out eBay where the single is often up for auction. Beware of fakes, though. If you live in Sweden you should also check out record stores and second hand stores in the major cities.
Scott C. added the following story about the single; "I just got 4 with the same # on mine as yours - GED 21907 '++++'. I got them in our local record store in (Boise, Idaho USA) they came in a large shipment of import cd singles our record store got. As soon as I saw them on e-bay I went back and grabbed them. I've looked mine over carefully and the picture cover is on somewhat glossy paper, Nirvana is yellow, and the images are crisp. They are no longer available at our store and I haven't seen them since. Just thought I would pass this info along to you. so you can track where they are popping up." He also added that; "I talked to our import buyer about the Pennyroyal CD and he has told me the following. He called his (German) distributor and asked about the CDs. The distributor told him he received 100 of the CDs from some distributor in Sweden. He in return passed the cds along to his favorite retailers. Our store got 10 total, and I got 4 of those. The CDs were not on any invoice because the distributor knew that would be the last of them he would see, and that re-order would not be possible." - Thanks for sharing, Scott!
NH of Sweden submitted this story about the single; "I just wanted to share that I actually found two copies of the single in different stores in Stockholm yesterday (November 6). I went to a record shop called "Heavy Sound" and I saw the single behind the counter. I knew it was worth much and I asked the store owner a little about it. But he didn't know anything about it, only that there was something special about the single and he sold it for around $60. I bought the single and went to some other record stores in Stockholm and at one store called "Frizzle Records" I looked at the Nirvana discs, and saw that they should have some records behind the counter. One of them would be the "Pennyroyal Tea" promo. I asked to see the promo and saw that the promo actually was another copy of the [3 track] single (GED21907) that I had purchased just one hour earlier. And they only sold it for around $36! So I bought this one too. The two copies I bought [of the single] has the ++++ GED21907 ++++ as the matrix number. Though, the artwork on the sleeve is great - it also has the yellow NIRVANA and the disc has the doily all the way down to the inner metal. But it does have the misspelling "hirinng". One strange thing is that I have never seen it in any store here, but now all of a sudden I find two copies in one day!"
Thanks to NH for this story. My inital thought after reading this, is that the '++++' version is in fact fake. All the singles with the '++++' matrix seems to originate from Sweden. That's where I got mine, which has the '++++' instead of 'Sonopress', and that's where NH in the story above got his two P.tea singles from (which also had the '++++' matrix). That is also where a fellow called "SnaggY" got copies of the single from, copies that had the '++++' matrix. And, some of the singles that reached the US, through a Swedish distributor had the '++++' matrix as Scott C. shared above. So my theory is that someone in Sweden is fabricating these counterfeits. This is substantiated by the fact that most copies of the, presumably fake, '++++' are apparently from Sweden -- as with the examples I just mentioned. Though, one should hesitate to jump to the conclusion that these are fake since the artwork is very nicely done and the single looks exactly as the authentic 'Sonopress' one - except for the spelling error and the different info etched into the disc (maxtrix #, IFPI tag etc.). I wonder if there is someone in Sweden with access to a professional plant, who is pressing and distributing these very well done fakes. It would be a somewhat easy way to make a LOT of money.
I just got a mail from another fellow from Sweden, who purchased his Pennyroyal Tea single at a record convention in Borlänge, Sweden. His single also had the '++++' matrix, thus it is likely to be fake. Especially since this one was ALSO purchased in Sweden. So right there is another shred of evidence to prove that the ones with the '++++' matrix are indeed fakes.
I also got a mail from Dominik Wolter who sent in this very interesting story;
"First the spine: The 'Sonopress' version's yellow [print] of the word Nirvana is
more of a 'Banana' yellow, the '++++' yellow is more 'lemon'. The word Geffen on the
'Sonopress' copy has letters with serifs (is it that what it is called?), the '++++'
copy has letters without them. The printing on the 'Sonopress' disc is in violet, [with]
'++++' it is black and not so thick as on the '++++' disc, and it is much sharper. The
same goes for the doily: the 'Sonopress' one is more structured, the '++++' copy looks
like too much colour was used. Another thing is the Geffen logo: The 'Sonopress' shows
the small 'r' between the logo and the word Geffen, the '++++' version just has no colour
at this point. The printing on the front cover is more saturated and clear, the printing on
the inlay is black and more saturated on the 'Sonopress' whereas it is more grey and pale on
the '++++' version. The music sounds the same, there is no difference - exactly the same length
of the songs and sound quality. I think the '++++' version is indeed a fake, though a very good one."
- thanks Dominik! There you go. Another indication to prove the '++++' version being a fake. I'll let
you take a wild guess as to where Dominik got his '++++' copy of the single. Yes ... you guessed it:
SWEDEN!. All of them '++++' singles are from Sweden!!
NH, who submitted one of the stories brought above, just sent in another one: "Today I went to the Stockholm record fair and I found two copies of the real 'Sonopress' single. And the prices were real this time too. If you wanted to buy one of the singles, the price you'd have to pay was 4000 Swedish kroner (around $465). One of the guys who sold the single has a record store called "CD Collector" in Stockholm. I told him that I had bought two copies of the '++++' version, and he knew right away where I'd bought at least one of them. Yes at "Frizzle Records". He told me that the guy who has that store knew all along that the '++++' version was a bootleg. He has a 'Sonopress' version himself, he told me, AND the Frizzle guy had WORKED for Geffen Records so he knew that my copy [the '++++' one] was fake. He just wanted to make money by selling the '++++' version and pretending it was a "promo" or something like that. I also looked at the 'Sonopress' version and saw (as you already know) that the "Pennyroyal Tea" text on the front sleeve is more yellow and not so orange and saturated as it is on the '++++' version. And you can actually see that the front sleeve [is] perfect like a photograph, and not as the '+++' version where it seems they have printed it in a laserprinter. One of the real 'Sonopress' copies got sold, I think, but I don't think the guy at "CD Collector" sold his copy."
Jonas submitted this story; "I was attending a record fair in Falun, Sweden today. As I was strolling around for NIRVANA bootlegs, I found a copy of the Pennyroyal Tea single. At first my heart started beating like crazy, but after gazing at it for some time I noticed that it was the version, which is thought to be a bootleg and has showed up all over Sweden lately (the '++++' version). The seller wanted 300 SKr. (about $35) for it. It looked liked the real deal, with a crisp inlay and great colors. It had the "++++GED21907++++" matrix number." Thanks Jonas. Again, another Swedish place - another fake. We now have many examples of Swedish record fairs and stores where this fake P.tea single was up for sale.
Here is some cool information from the January 1, 2000 issue of the Digital Nirvana Newsletter; "I have been told that 200 Pennyroyal Tea singles surfaced a while back through a Korean importer (the singles were imported from Germany). I have confirmed (disc in hand) that these singles contain the Sonopress matrix (not the ++++ matrix), with the IFPI stamp. These discs surfaced a while back, and started the onslaught of Pennyroyal Tea singles surfacing on Ebay. 200 singles, relatively speaking, is a very small number of CDs, however it is HUGE when compared to the scant number of Pennyroyal Tea singles previously available. A few fortunate Koreans recognized the single's collectible value and began placing them on Ebay. Shortly afterwards, many counterfeit (++++ matrix) Pennyroyal Tea singles surfaced and many were auctioned on Ebay alongside the newly surfaced authentic singles from Korea. The result was 'PENNYROYAL TEA-FEST 1999!!!' Literally, it was very common to find 10 of these very scarce singles listed on Ebay on any given day. I am confident in the authenticity of two versions of the Pennyroyal Tea single, both have the Sonopress matrix (no ++++'s). The difference between the two is that one has the IFPI stamp in the plastic, while the other does not. The IFPI stamp version matches the German pressing of the Come As You Are single I own. Which of these two versions is rarer? 200 of the IFPI version were reported to have surfaced from Korea, but I don't know if the IFPI version had previously surfaced since there was really no distinction made before. I couldn't tell anyone how much one of these singles is worth, but I do believe that the number of authentic singles that appear on Ebay will diminish as they settle into the possession of collectors. As of the time I am typing this, a search on Ebay reveals only one of these singles and no mention of the matrix (it could be a fake). Please educate yourself on this single before you make a major purchase." Thanks a bunch to Mitch, Cory and digitalnirvana for this information.
Mat Fusaro submitted this story; "so I got my [Pennyroyal Tea single] in a US store that is part of a fairly large chain called Newbury comics. My copy does have the ++++ in the matrix. The doily is clear and goes fully in to the metal. The spine has the correctly colored wording and spelling and is not blurry. The cover photo is a little blurry in the corners. It does have the misspelling in the word hiring. I'm just not sure what I got here I bought it for the price of a normal CD which is about $15, and it was with the rest of the CDs, no where special." thanks to Mat for this. I have heard several other stories from people who got their P.tea single at Newbury Comics so I think its safe to say that they are helping distribute the fake version of this single, unfortunately. I also believe certain Tower Record stores are selling the fake one.
Erik added this info about the IFPI tag: "I would suggest to you that the IFPI stamp merely designates copies intended from export from those intended for sale in Germany. You may know that yourself, but I didn't see the point raised in the info you provided. To say that there is a stamped or unstamped version is rarer or more valuable is probably moot."
Dave from Amsterdam sent in this story; "I've been a Dutch nirvana-collector for about two years. In Amsterdam, where I live, there's a big record store, called 'concerto' that also sells 2nd hand records. I was just looking around, not really expecting to find anything interesting, when I saw the pennyroyal tea cd-single (original sonopress) for fl. 8,50 (which is about 2 pounds, or 3.5 USD). I was looking at your pennyroyal tea page, and I noticed that you said it could have the IFPI numer 0793 on the disc. I just wanted to let you know that mine has the IFPI numer 0738."