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For more tales from our restless closets, visit my auction theme page.

Price & Zimmer Collections: our ebay store

Wednesday 7.6.05: Collecting Sheet Music from the Movies

Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell Dolores del Rio Fanny Brice
Gloria Swanson Vilma Banky Dolores del Rio

I suppose everyone of a certain age remembers a piano in the house and a stack of sheet music hidden in the piano bench. We don't have a piano or a piano bench, but can it be a surprise to anyone that we have a stack of sheet music?

About a dozen years ago, Jim was in his heydey of collecting Hollywood studio portraits -- luminous photographic studies of beautiful faces, figures, and fashions. It must have tuned his eye to the fact that sheet music also contains powerful portraiture -- more vulgar than the lofty black and white portraits, halfway between art and advertising, but gorgeous nonetheless.

And so, he began picking up sheet music that related to films. It would be wonderful if we had a great big wall and could mount a rotating display of this popular art. Instead, we have a tall stack weighing down a shelf in our bedroom and it's time to send them back out into the world.

As usual with these old things, there's a certain amount of magic in handling them. Most of the music has been well-used -- a bit faded or yellowed, tiny tears and wrinkles -- crispness gone from the paper. They have a soft focus quality -- aging beauty queens that need to be seen through a gauzy filter.

Of course, I'm responding to the cover art and to the overall feel. The back covers are usually striking ads that would make a collection in themselves, but I refuse to get involved.

I don't give much of a glance to the actual music. I guess that's the one feature that hasn't changed much -- we still use the same strange language of lines and flying dots. Kids with electronic keyboards in their bedrooms must still be buying sheet music -- unless there is some new-fangled substitute for reading music.

 

For more tales from our restless closets, visit my auction theme page.

Price & Zimmer Collections: our ebay store

Other resources:

Parlor Songs Guide to Collecting Sheet Music

About Antiques: Music for the Ears

Laura Thykeson: Collecting Sheet Music

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