[78-L] Vintage Sheet Music Question

Taylor Bowie bowiebks at isomedia.com.invalid
Sun May 6 09:25:44 PDT 2018

I have been in the old and rare book trade for more than 40 years,  and 
during that time I have seen prices for the general run of sheet music go up 
for some time and then,  with the advent of the Internet, collapse.  The 
supply is much greater than any demand.

Any given day you can find eBay sellers,  for example,  offering large lots 
of pop sheet music with a per unit price of a dollar or less...sometimes 
much less.  On a whim,  I recently bought an eBay lot of 500 pieces of pop 
sheet music,  1920 - 1945,  for about $60 including shipping...they were 
nice but it wasn't any particular bargain.

As in any field,  there are many individual exceptions but these days one is 
lucky to get  even a dollar  for a lot of it.

Institutional libraries rarely buy any of it...those that are interested in 
20th century sheet music pretty much rely on gifts and donations, rather 
than a purchase.  That would certainly be true with a large general lot, 
where the institution might already own the bulk of the contents...the LOC 
is no exception to that.

Exceptions to the general depressed run of things would be certain (not all) 
ragtime tunes,  pre-1920...sheet music with the photos of famous blues 
singers and jazz artists,  some movie related material,  and other odds and 

There is also some market for really attractive cover designs as 
well...often from people who have no real interest in the music.

I hope this is of some help,  even though it isn't very encouraging.

I would also add something about giving gifts to institutional 
libraries...many times they will accept a gift but that will be the end of 
it,  because they don't have the money or the staff to catalog and maintain 
the material.  So it ends up in boxes in the basement and eventually gets 
dumped in recycle or at a library sale for pennies.  I have seen this happen 
many times.

Taylor B.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donna Halper" <dlh at donnahalper.com.invalid>
To: "78-L Mail List" <78-l at klickitat.78online.com>
Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2018 9:02 AM
Subject: Re: [78-L] Vintage Sheet Music Question

> On 5/6/2018 7:15 AM, Eugene Baron wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I don't know much about the topic but I do see this group on Facebook:
>> https://www.facebook.com/search/str/sheet+music+collectors/keywords_search
>> Maybe he could get some help or direction from them.
> Often, the archivists at the Library of Congress are interested in a
> collection like this. Your friend may want to go on the LOC website and
> see which archivist would be the most appropriate to ask.
> -- 
> Donna L. Halper, PhD
> Associate Professor of Communication & Media Studies
> Lesley University, Cambridge MA
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> 78-L at klickitat.78online.com
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