The Newberry was open Friday and Saturday, and part of my time there over the weekend was attending to the 45s and 78s among our record donations. For those who are too young to know the difference, there were three basic record speeds in the 1950s: the 33s or LPs were 12 inches across, the 78s were ten inches across–mostly, and the 45s or doughnut records were seven inches across and had a much larger spindle hole in the middle. Having disposed of a certain percentage of our audience (“Oh, he’s talking about stuff I don’t know how to play”) we can continue.
Record donations have actually been a little low this year, barring a couple of opera buffs who sent over a mass of vinyl. What we’re supposed to do without all those old Ray Conniff albums and Barry Manilow compilations I’m not sure. But we work on LPs the year around.
The 45s and 78s turned up a lot of the regulars, too. Galli-Curci and Caruso are going to be in the shellac collection, as are Sir Harry lauder and Stan Freberg. For those of you have checked each year in vain for the singles of Raoul Romito, fisherman turned operatic tenor who made his biggest hit recording Italian folk songs, we have a surprise in store for you.
Over in the 45s, we have, as we must, the Ohio Express and the Jackson Five and Aretha and Petula and all the rest. We may have only two small boxes of them for sale this year, but we have a little of everything, from the special Kentucky Fried Chicken Andy Williams giveaway (still in original sleeve) to those dingy yellow unbreakable children’s records.
We have turned up a few mild collectibles, which are mild enough to be included among the rest of the records, albeit at a slightly higher price. We have “Bye Bye Baby”, a 78 featuring that song sung by Jane Russell on one side and by Marilyn Monroe on the other. We have the original Gee label 45 of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers singing “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” You will find, if you’re quick enough, a white label promo release of Dean Martin singing “Triche Trache” (unofficially subtitled The Tree-Kay-Trah-Kay Song, since no one would know how to pronounce it from looking at the label.)
And, as usual, you sent us some things which may or may not get further research. I have decided simply to price and set out the 78s with labels entirely in Japanese. If they turn out to be worth millions, you still pay one buck apiece. I was on firmer ground with the record labels ion Swedish: those also are out there for a dollar.
This Commodore pressing of Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit” may wind up in Collectibles, however, along with these “SampleCopy-Not For Sale” 45s of Patsy Cline. We have a delightful single from 1930, featuring the Clicquot Club Eskimos on the A side. The B side features a lesser known group calling themselves “the Dorsey Brothers”. I need more time to price that one. I will not, at this time, be putting out the Record-It-Yourself discs of a Senn High School reunion in 1953, or these speeches at someone’s farewell dinner. I may take those to the Greater Ebay Public for judgement.
But my very favorite mystery is a set of three records, apparently from different companies, to judge by the color of the labels. Somebody has taken a coin (I think) and very carefully scratched off every bit of print on both sides. Did you suddenly hate the performer? Were these OUR songs, and you scratched them out after a break-up? But it’s the WHOLE label: company, singer, song, and catalog data. And the record itself has NOT been scratched.
Our best guess is that these were part of some party game: “I can guess that song in…five notes!” Maybe you’ll come and buy them and let us know later on. Sixteen days to go.