Music to My Ears: Collecting Music, From 45s to MP3s

I would like to think that collecting music has found its final form. My Apple is loaded with CDs we have collected, downloaded and saved. If I load in more, I may have to move it to a Cloud.

Collecting music: Record Player 78rpm

78 RPM Record Player

Within my childhood home there was an old wind-up Victrola that played 78s, and later in the 1950s, a radio phonograph was added that would play 78, 45 and 33 rpm recordings. The 45s required an adapter to fit on the small spindle.

45 rpm Dance records

45 rpm Dance records

As a music fan, my first purchases were 78s, then 45 rpm records on vinyl discs with single songs, one on each side. It was back when the music store gave you a platter and put you into a little listening booth to preview the record before buying.

My first real collection of music was on 45 rpm records, played on a small turntable designed to only work on one speed. It was located in our basement rec-room where as a teenager, I would host monthly dance parties where even a pastor’s daughter could dance. Until my first real job as an advertising search light operator, I was not able to afford stereo albums nor the proper equipment to play them.

Tape machines added a new twist and recording selected tracks from favorite albums and adding copied music from radio provided long sessions of continuous music. And while this was great for background music, the tapes lost my interest and I returned to big vinyl discs. At the parties, the 45s remained popular, with several girls bringing the latest hit songs and most enjoyable slow dance music. In the 1960s all my purchases were long play stereo records, and the collection included different genres, from rock to jazz to classical, with some favorite country artists included.

The delivery of recorded music continued from vinyl records to tape reels to small tape cassettes, and then onto CDs, where most of my recent music is today. The music is enjoyed on a speaker system throughout the house with the advantage of shuffle adding to my listening pleasure. But lots of our music comes from the inconvenient record player, playing one track after another with no mixing or shuffle and frequent visits to our studio to change records. That problem will soon be alleviated with my holiday present from my daughter and son-in-law. I now have an ION record player hooked to my Apple and have started the process of transferring music from vinyl. That means I will no longer search for the Carpenters, Lionel Hampton, Smokey Robinson, Willy Nelson or Clyde McFader on CDs.

Music collecting is huge, and I haven’t even touched on sheet music, where customers “score” favorite finds, for the music or artist and most often the artwork on the cover.

Here is a list from Wikipedia via Music Stack Music Marketplace of the most expensive recorded music, subject to change when the loss of an artist pushes an album momentarily to the upper echelons.

Source: Wikipedia


1. John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy (Geffen US Album, 1980) Note: Autographed by Lennon five hours before Mark David Chapman assassinated him. Value: $525,000

2. The Quarrymen – “That’ll Be the Day”/”In Spite Of All The Danger” (UK 78 RPM, Acetate in plain sleeve, 1958) Note: Only one copy made. Value: $180,000

3. The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (Capitol, US Album in ‘butcher’ sleeve, 1966) Value: $38,500, though more typically prices range from $150-$7500

4. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (CBS, US album, stereo 1963 featuring 4 tracks deleted from subsequent releases) Value: $35,000

5. Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hull – “Original Stack O’Lee Blues” (Black Patti, US 78 RPM in plain sleeve, 1927) Value: $30,000

6. Frank Wilson – “Do I Love You?” (Tamla Motown, US 7” 45 RPM in plain sleeve, 1965) Value: $30,000

7. Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground and Nico (US Album Acetate, in plain sleeve, 1966 with alternate versions of tracks from official release) Value: estimate $25,200

8. Elvis Presley - Stay Away, Joe (US, RCA Victor UNRM-9408, 1967) Note: One side promotional album. Value: $25,000

9. The Five Sharps - “Stormy Weather” (US, Jubilee 5104, 78 RPM, 1953) Value: $25,000

10. The Hornets - “I Can’t Believe” (US, States 127, 78 RPM, 1953) Value: $25,000

Does this match your personal list, or are your aims more modest?  Mine sure are.

As with any collectible, prices can be determined by rarity, quality, desirability and I would suggest vanity. That includes all avenues of delivery for music. Searching for desired additions requires persistence, searching through boxes filled with rolls, sheets, singles, albums, discs, cassettes, tapes or CDs. Checking estate sale, resale shops and flea markets is your best bet.

I recently sold a 1925 Victor catalog, and an earlier Edison catalog to two different, very serious collectors. In our personal library are collector books on vinyl and sheet music, and a search on the net should result in finding your own copy for reference into obscure and collectible music.

And if you have finally found your treasure, the next sale will contain the same item in better condition at a lower price. Go figure.



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