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MMD > Archives > April 1998 > 1998.04.05 > 06Prev  Next

Very Old Sheet Music
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Some 15-20 years ago, I inherited three boxes of sheet music
from an 87-year-old professional pianist, Harry Rowland.  Harry started
working professionally at the tender age of _eight_ and continued to
perform daily in Toms River, NJ, until the arthritis knuckles on both of
his hands became too painful at age 83.  Why Harry willed his entire
collection to me still remains a mystery since he knew that I can't
sight-read music.  So, the boxes have been sitting untouched in my
bedroom closet.

Spirited by a conversation with one of my customers who has an
interesting collection of framed sheets from the early 30's and 40's,
I'm starting to do some research on how to go about selling these
sheets.  The article in todays Digest about Larry Givens book pushed my
desire to a front burner.

Unlike many pieces of old sheet music that I've seen over the years,
Harry made a practice of turning the sheets inside out and taping them
so that he could easily view and turn the sheet.  As a consequence of
this action, the 'cover' of a vast majority of the pieces have seen
very little light and the colors are almost as bright as the day the
sheets were first bought.  There are some very delightful pictures of
singers, actors, dancers and composers gracing these sheets and it
seems a shame to just let them sit in that box in my closet.

I have no idea how to go about grading this material since I'm not a
collector.  Further, I'm not certain that I'll ever have the time to
research the potential value of each piece.  Therefore, I'm looking for
some guidelines to help speed up the process.  If you have experience
in this field or have any particular interest in this type of material,
I'd be interested to hear from you.  One of the sheets appears to be a
first run of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.  There are a number of Bing
Crosby's tunes and loads of show tunes.  The lithography work on many
of the pieces is stunning.

John A. Tuttle (

Key Words in Subject:  Music, Old, Sheet, Very

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