Collecting Sheet Music

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Collecting Sheet Music

If your interested in movie memorabilia and can't afford to buy Garland's red slippers, or Fred Astaire's top hat at Christie's, or the personal effects of other famous singers or composers you can always buy their sheet music."
Many niche antiques and collectables aren't just pricey; they're downright expensive. For those with more time to shop than money to spend, try an interesting alternative that looks impressive framed and perfectly placed on a home or office wall.

Start Collecting Sheet Music

Sheet music produced from the 1890s onward featured favorite songs from the stage. Later, movies and radio spread popular music even further into British and American homes. Any amateur or professional musician of the day would have stacks of colorful sheet music stashed in piano benches and tucked away in boxes.

Performers associated with the original musical presentations were often depicted on the cover of the music, a side benefit for today's collector.

The faces of early 20th century personalities such Al Jolson and Fannie Brice graced many early issues. Later, stars of the '40s like Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour and Gracie Fields thrilled their fans on sheet music covers.

These paper items were so popular, many examples sold more than one million copies when first issued. Collecting Paper reports that A Bird in a Gilded Cage "sold two million copies in 1900. In 1910, familiar tunes Let Me Call You Sweetheart and Down By the Old Mill Stream each sold five to six million copies.

Because of the sheer volume produced and distributed, even though they're made of paper and can be somewhat fragile, only a few sheet music examples are truly rare. This can actually be a boon for the collector, since finding items for a sheet music collection is virtually stress free.

The challenge comes with finding paper goods in excellent condition. Next, a sheet music collector must learn to narrow their focus and save their collecting cash for their favorite finds rather than purchasing everything they run across.

Competition is not extremely fierce since there are plenty of song titles go to around, but there are some cases of crossover collecting here.

For instance, sheet music with a military theme often interests collectors of militaria. Broadway musical enthusiasts will seek out numerous titles from Rodgers and Hammerstein or Irving Berlin as well.

Other people are just attracted to the many covers featuring colorful drawings of beautiful women. Framed and hung on a wall, these can make a lovely accent in the home most anyone can appreciate.

Another great feature about ferreting out old sheet music is the price.
Once again, because of the volume produced and saved over the years, most common pieces sell in the £5 to £10 range. A rare piece, like Scott Joplin's Breeze from Alabama from 1902, lists in Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide for £50!.

Reasonably priced and attractive, not many representations of early 20th century popular culture can offer so much for so little.

Condition is a major factor, but keep in mind that items that are 50 to 75 years old, especially paper items, aren't normally found in mint condition. In the first third of the Century, when at least one person in the family played the piano,  many would break the spine of new and crisp sheet music so it would stand upright on the music stand above the keyboard and when going to parties would write their name across the front to be sure of its return at the end of the night. So if it's right across the forehead of a Gershwin subject it hurts the value. But if the sheet music survived these and other torments, such as spilled gin martinis, and as it was replaced by newer tunes, it slept safety in the piano bench, or grandmother's attic, surviving to live for future generations.

For more information visit our Ebay Shop at Collectable Sheet Music


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