Are old classical 78's collectible?

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Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby analog » Wed Feb 25, 2004 1:08 pm

NM Please check this for content.

I stumbled across what looks to me a treasure, if so maybe somebody in this forum would like to know about it.


I just found an interesting album - Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, Leopold Stokowski and New York City Orchestra on old Victor Red Seal 78's . It's one of several hundred classical 78 albums in a pile at the local church thrift shop here in Idaho Falls. Looks like somebody just today donated a huge estate collection, which must be very old because the few 33 RPM LP's in it predate stereo.

I dont want to be accused of commercializing on this board. NM -- Please edit this if it's inappropriate. I have no interest beyond saving the records and would refuse any money were it offered.

That pile of old records appears to me to be a treasure that ought to be preserved. Most are old Victor Red seal, Decca, Columbia, a few Angel, and lots I never heard of. Their condition is pristine, but won't be if it snows tonight. I may go back and get Accadame Santa Cecilia de Roma's "Aida" jus for the cool 1940's jacket cover.

If anybody knows of an old record preservation society, or maybe B.Com would like them to make a wall mural from the jackets, they're at Idaho Falls Deseret Industries (LDS church thrift shop) area code 208 524-3300.

hope this doesn't offend.

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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby Nicole Marie » Wed Feb 25, 2004 1:35 pm

Hey Analog this post is fine. You are trying to preserve something that needs to be preserved. You may want to contact WWUH Radio (University of Hartford's radio station) I was PD there for several years and the Classical Music staff there is amazing! They often save LP's and use them during their air shifts. One of the staff members may also want them for a personal collection. You can reach them at http://www.wwuh.org or http://www.wwuh.org/program/music/classical/classical.htm
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Wed Feb 25, 2004 4:34 pm

As one of the wacko record collectors on this board, I can say that many 78s are collectible, and some are valuable.

You imply that these are out in the elements, and it's possible that it will snow tonight. I can't say if Deseret has a clue about the value of these, but if I were there, I would 1)offer a reasonable sum, say $50 to take them off their hands, save them the expense of cataloging, pricing, and stocking or 2)offer to shelter them until such time as they could deal with them properly.

My 78 collection isn't anywhere near as extensive as my LP collection, of course, because the sound quality is so noticably poorer, and they aren't as available. That wouldn't keep me from picking up the lot for a decent amount, and hearing some excellent performances.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby Valerie » Wed Feb 25, 2004 4:47 pm

hi

to be quite honest, the 78s really only have sentimental value

i had a HUGE collection (imagine a wall in a bedroom - floor to ceiling) but when my parents moved, i had to get rid of them because i have no room in my house

i did keep several - sentimental value - stokowski and kousevitsky - also rachmaninoff playing his own music

i have an original victor victrola in excellent condition, and would play them from time to time -just for kicks, but they just don't do the music justice, as does the regular albums did and now CDs

many of the classic 78s to my knowledge have been digitally re-recorded and are now on CD, which is awesome
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby analog » Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:42 pm

Thanks Barfle, i may do that but i shudder at the thought of where would i put them. It's a whole pickup truck full. What amazed me was the breadth of the collection, far too sophisticated for me to evaluate, and the good condition. Things just last better out here in the desert than in humid South Fla where I grew up.

Like you i have a set of Rachmaninoff on RCA 78's from around 1940, which appear to have never been played. But you're right, it was around 1960 before recording industry got really good.

I'll peruse the pile if it's still there in the morning. If you know any particularly rare works to look for, please advise.

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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Thu Feb 26, 2004 3:25 pm

Well, you can toss just about anything with a visible crack or scratch, and if there's several records in an "album" they should all be there and in good shape, as should the album itself.

Beyond that, I don't really know what is commanding high prices. I know of a couple of guys in Sandy Eggo area who are avid 78 collectors. Their entire house is full of shelves of records, and there isn't a piece of vinyl in the bunch.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby analog » Wed Mar 03, 2004 12:48 pm

Well, I filled up my pickup truck for $50 and left probably that many more behind.

Most will be junk i suppose.

The Maria Callas set looks interesting. Lily Pons(?) looks like a 1930's sweetheart.

So many names i dont know. Will be an education just finding out who these people are.

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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby OperaTenor » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:21 pm

Maria Callas?! Lily Pons?! Those are two sopranos of renown, if you didn't know. Sounds like you did stumble across a treasure trove of sorts, especially if they're in good condiditon.

Whenever you get the opportunity to catalog the inventory, I suggest you post the list of what you got here. I think it would be a lot of fun to see what you got, and for everyone to chime in with their knowledge of it.

This might be a silly question, but are you used to playing 78's? If you use a victrola, for instance, you'll want to replace the needle WITH EVERY PLAY! Playing them with used needles are the biggest cause of damage to the record.

Have fun, wish I could be there to help.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Wed Mar 03, 2004 4:22 pm

When it comes to playing 78s, I would recommend a modern player with a modern pickup, set with a stylus designed for 78s. I use a Miracord 50H (modern? Well, it was in 1969) with a Shure V15 Type 5MR with the 78 stylus.

If you have a way to set your system to play in mono, of course that will help, unless the records are very, very old, and in that case the channels will cancel each other out. Technical details will be provided on request.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby analog » Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:16 pm

Thanks OT and Barfle........

This record adventure turned into material for a short story. I only wish i had bigger truck, it would have had a happier ending.


They were indeed from the estate of a local doctor who died some years ago. Many of them were stamped inside with his name. A friend of mine recognized the name, a friend of his from fifty years ago.
I was trying to figure out where to put them all when got a phonecall from the housecleaning lady who'd disposed of them for the realtor. Seems somebody in town who knew of the collection told the realtor it was worth $40,000, so he commenced trying to recover the records. I thought it best to check with the heirs, found the family name in the phonebook and called. An astonished man said "All Dad's records? We've been saving those for years! When did this happen?"

To make a long story short, i took my whole truckload over to his house last night, where i met the good Dr's son , his grandson, and a whole housefull of great grandchildren. They are a most wholesome family, perhaps that's a legacy of being raised around classical music. Obviously the records are a family treasure and i was glad to return them.

I feel like that old stamp merchant in the movie "Charade". For a while i had in my hands Marie Callas singing I PURITANI at Lascala ; Arthur Fiedler's Synfonetta accompanying Power Biggs at an organ playing Buch i think ; Nina Koschet singing Rachmaninoff, a Porgy and Bess from 1949 or so, and several hundred other equally obscure(to me) but exotic looking things. You who know about these things would have loved it.

Sadly the thrift store discarded what they didnt sell so the family lost about half of them. If only i'd had a bigger truck................


Should I ask him to give me a chance when he decides to dispose of them? Right now they're piled on the woodworking bench in his barn. If they're truly valuable i couldn't afford them.

If you have interest, you could try writing to

Mr Davidjohn Stosich
2300 S Charlotte
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

He's a very nice fellow.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:01 am

Naturally, I would hope that they treat the record collection with the care they deserve. As was the case with you, they suddenly have objects they hadn't planned for, so they are stored as best they can be.

$40,000 worth of records? Wow! I'm sure my collection isn't worth anywhere near that much (it would require my records to AVERAGE about $30 each, and maybe I have a have 50 records that are worth that much at best).

I like your analogy of the stamp merchant in Charade. You have an incredible treasure, yet you know there's someone who deserves it. Congratulations on your high sense of ethics. I'm not all that sure I would be able to do that myself.

And the manager of the thrift shop should be shot at dawn.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby OperaTenor » Mon Mar 08, 2004 12:56 pm

I'm with Barfle. It's a sad commentary on our value system.

I hope the doctor's heirs realize what a service you did them.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby analog » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:07 pm

Thanks OT BArfle and Stravinsky for your insights and advice. No OT, i was not aware who those ladies were. As you doubtless surmised I am not sophisticated, my taste runs toward Arthur Fiedler and Andre Kostelanetz (who i've learned from this was Lily Pons' husband). I appreciate your kindness.

I'm curious about the technology of recording. Just how much information do you suppose is hidden in those grooves? Were the groove cutters of 78RPM days massive and slow? Could one compensate for that? When did RIAA equalization appear?

If one plays an ancient 78 on good equipment like Barfle's , might a "black box" of some sort help recover some fidelity lost to the recording process? Barfle, you're an engineer, is this a job for those newfangled DSP circuits? I'm an old analog electronics guy from the 60's and the world has passed me by.

When get back home to the Ozarks, think I'll start trying to digitize those old Rachmaninoff 78's i have, and learn about FFT.

There's a 1938 Look magazine on Ebay with Lily Pons on the cover. Indeed she's a sweetheart.

Thanks guys!
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby Marye » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:28 pm

Analog,

What a very kind person you are. I hope all good things come to you in this life.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby Shapley » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:39 pm

Analog,

We had a rather lengthy discussion about vinyl recordings and stylii awhile back in the "Singles Thread".

It can be found here:
http://www.beethoven.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=000044;p=1

<small>[ 03-09-2004, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: Shapley ]</small>
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby BigJon » Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:43 pm

Originally posted by analog:
f one plays an ancient 78 on good equipment like Barfle's , might a "black box" of some sort help recover some fidelity lost to the recording process?
No! You cannot "recover" anything that is not encoded in the vinyl. To attempt to do so is to simply introduce euphonic coloration into the playback. This is the thing that gripes me the most about sterophiles, in the attempt to enhance the realism of the music they are hearing; they introduce inaccuracies into the playback. You goal should be the most accurate and faithful reproduction of the information encoded in the media. To do more is to add noise, pleasant or not.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Tue Mar 09, 2004 3:33 pm

Originally posted by analog:
If one plays an ancient 78 on good equipment like Barfle's, might a "black box" of some sort help recover some fidelity lost to the recording process? Barfle, you're an engineer, is this a job for those newfangled DSP circuits? I'm an old analog electronics guy from the 60's and the world has passed me by.
You're an old analog guy? Why do you think I still play vinyl at home? And just how old do you think I am?

As BigD noted, if it ain't there in the first place, you ain't gonna hear it. But, yes, there are "black boxes" that will do a pretty good job of reducing noise and fixing equalization from early recordings. I have an Esoteric Audio surface noise reducer, and it does an amazing job of reducing ticks and pops with very little undesirable side effects. It's not effective on just plain old worn out records, but scratches that don't cause mistracking almost vanish.

Yes, you can spend as much money as you have, and I have other signal processing gear in my system that is equally expensive, but this is a darn good unit. It takes a little tweaking to get it working at its optimum, but after that you don't have to do much to it.

78s aren't going to sound like CDs, but that doesn't mean they can't sound good, as long as you have decent equipment intended to play them, not simply a record player with a 78 speed. The stylus is important, equalization is, too, but if you're going to take one step, I'd say get a cartridge and stylus for 78s first.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby rwcrooks » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:10 pm

There is a piece of freeware out the called audacity (or is it audicity) that has a neat trick.

My turntable doesn't have a 78 speed, but with audacity I can take my old Harry Lauder 78's and play them at 33 1/3, and then increase the tempo without increasing he pitch. I think I have the terms right. At any rate, it can make Harry Lauder sing at the right speed and not sound like one of the Chipmunks.

I'm thinking of changing my tagline.
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Re: Are old classical 78's collectible?

Postby barfle » Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:05 am

I'm guessing that the program simply speeds up the playback, since a 78 played at 33-1/3 would be better than an octave lower in both pitch and tempo than it should be. If it's doing all it should, it also re-equalizes (adjusts bass and treble) for the speed change and the recording technology change.

While I'm no programmer, I can't imagine such a program would be particularly difficult. Now, if it would filter out the hiss, that would be special!

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