--- On Wed, 6/6/12, [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [trad-dance-callers] Value of square dance recordings
To: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, 6 June, 2012, 20:01
With all the posts about old square dance recordings being offered or wanted, I'd like to give my thoughts on the value of these artifacts, based on many years of collecting and observation.
I've seldom seen a field of collectible items where the asking prices vary as wildly as they do with square dance records. There are opposing forces at play here. The number of people interested in this genre, I suspect, is fairly small compared with almost any other style of music. Square dance records were not pressed in the vast quantities of pop music records, but the numbers were enough to take care of the demand in the boom years, when there were thousands of callers and perhaps millions of dancers, and the number of surviving discs is probably more than adequate to satisfy the demand today. This tends to keep prices low.
On the other hand, some people with records to sell assume that if something is old it must be valuable, and they ask prices that are unlikely to be realized. Some professional or semi-professional record sellers who do most of their business by mail have a minimum price, say $10 for a 78 rpm disc, below which it's not worth their while to list an item. This can lead to bargains if the recordings pre-date the square dance boom of the late 1940s, but it can also produce some very high prices for unremarkable recordings of a later era.
The asking price for a square dance record will vary based on several factors: (1) condition; (2) scarcity (if the seller is aware of it); (3) desirability (due either to excellence of music & calling or to historical significance); (4) whether the record is being sold individually or as part of a large lot; (5) how motivated the seller is to get rid of it. A professional dealer may be willing to wait a while to get his price, whereas a caller's widow with several cases of records may just want to get the stuff out of the house.
Asking prices I've seen in recent years for 78 and 45 rpm singles range from less than $1 per disc (for large lots) to around $10 per disc (for a 78 in very good condition with its original sleeve and instruction sheet if any). Albums of three or four singles often go for $10 to $20. Higher asking prices are seen but not necessarily realized: one album has been offered on eBay at $50 for years without a buyer -- or a price reduction.
Discs recorded earlier than the late 1940s are much harder to find, particularly in good condition, than records associated with the '40s/'50s boom. I'd expect to pay at least $10 for such an item. (All of these prices exclude shipping, which may run another $5 or $10 for careful packing of a shellac record.)
One of my dreams is to compile a discography of square dance recordings, with my thoughts on the quality and historical significance of two groups: (1) the best and (2) the most often encountered.
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