Why Is It Important To Save 78s?

July31, 2004
By Loki
Freelance Writer

I should say: This music's not important, or valuable, so send all your 78s to us, we'll take 'em off you hands.

But saying that wouldn't be fair.

On a dollar per disc level, very few people are going to get rich hawking their grandparents’ 78 collection. So when we get calls from people asking how to cash in on their collection we have to tell them honestly that there's too much of it out there and too little interest. In order to find rare or valuable 78s, you'd have to devote your life to the search. Where the true value of 78s can be found (and where my interest lies) is in the connection it can offer a person with the past, particularly if you're looking at a family collection. You can learn a lot about your ancestral loved ones via the music they listened to. Also, there's a charm to older music and the way it was recorded. 78 rpm records hold the legacy of recorded music from an era when a botched performance couldn't be fixed in "post production." Musical ensembles were either hot or not, and it shone through on the recordings they made.

Uncle Jeff will also tell you some technical stuff about how the sound clarity packed into the grooves at that many rotations per minute (78 as opposed to 45 or 33) held richer depth and that even modern digitization techniques will never do that sound justice.

But they should be preserved. 78s are brittle, easily broken, awkward to listen to and a nightmare to store or transport. If you can get them saved into a more manageable format, do it. We're also glad to help. Because, despite all the hassle, I just think 78s sound great and look terrific. I even like the smell. And, there's nothing quite like the smooth almost oceanic tone that fills the room when that needle drops onto those grooves.

So if you’ve got a heap of these black shellac beauties, drop us a line with the titles and – if they strike our fancy, we’ll see if we can’t arrange a little transcribing party.