The publication of folio-size sheets of American popular music dates to the late 18th century, but the practice didn't pick up steam until the 1830s, '40s, and '50s. That's when upright pianos first began to find their way into the parlors and salons of U.S. homes. Artists who produced sheet music covers early in their careers before going on to acclaim for their oil paintings include Fitz Henry Lane, Winslow Homer, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

The Civil War was a productive period for popular music compositions and also for beautifully lithographed title pages, most of them published in the North. There are also many Confederate music publications to collect—the war-based and illustrated pieces are generally of most interest. Though paper quality in the South was generally poor, all Southern sheet music is hard to find and desirable.

But the truly widespread popularity of sheet music in the United States in the late-19th and early-20th centuries coincided with the proliferation of domestically produced pianos after the Civil War. Up to that point, piano-making had been a labor-intensive craft practiced only by highly skilled workers. Instituting mass-production techniques, U.S. manufacturers transformed this artisan enterprise into a business. By the end of the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of pianos a year were produced, and every single one of them required many more times its number in printed sheet music.

The hub of sheet-music publishing was in New York City on West 28th Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway, a stretch that became known as Tin Pan Alley. For a while, the publishers grouped there were essentially printing money—one 1892 hit, “After the Ball” sold two-million copies in its first year alone. “Sidewalks of New York” was published in 1894, “The Band Played on” in 1895, and “Hello! Ma Baby” in 1899.

Vintage sheet music is fascinating to collectors not only for its range of subjects, but for its entertaining cover graphics, featuring everything from pastoral landscapes to city street scenes. As such, they are snapshots, albeit romanticized ones, of life at the turn of the 20th century.

Other people collect sheet music less for the imagery on their covers as the songwriters associated with a particular tune. Scott Joplin compositions such as “Maple Leaf Rag” are popular, as are those by George M. Cohan (“Give My Regards To Broadway”), Irving Berlin (“Alexander’s Ragtime Band”), and George Gershwin (“Swanee”).

Then, just as the piano had created a demand for sheet music, two inventions, followed by the Depression, brought the glory years of the medium to an end. The first was the introduction of the phonograph, especially the Victrola, which was all the rage in the early 1920s. By the end of that decade, though, radios meant people could get their entertainment without lifting a finger, let alone having to gather around the family piano to sing along to sheet music.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Remember Eddie Cochran

Remember Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran died in 1960 at the age of 21, but his legacy lives on at Remember Eddie Cochran. The site pays tribu… [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Blog

Ephemera Blog

Marty Weil's wide-ranging, in-depth blog on ephemera, including lots of great interviews with ephemera collectors. … [read review or visit site]

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Society of America

Ephemera Society of America

Great reference on ephemera... includes examples and descriptions of various ephemera categories, selected special … [read review or visit site]

Dylanstubs.com

Dylanstubs.com

Hey babe, check out this database of over 2,900 Bob Dylan ticket stubs and concert posters, assembled with the help… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Seymour & Blair Jugate Campaign Sheet Music, 1868 Pair. One For U.s. Grant!Jamberry Nail Wraps Lot- 2 Half Sheets: Sheet Music + Black & White PolkaBeautiful Vintage Segova Soprano Ukulele ~ Great Condition, Bonus Sheet MusicThe Crickets With Buddy Holly Sheet Music That'll Be The Day (1957)Blue Monday Sheet Music Jayne Mansfield & Fats Domino (1957)Bye-bye Prohibition Days - Volstead Act - 1932 Sheet Music - George Dessau The Harvey Girls Judy Garland (4 Pieces) 1945 Movie Sheet Music1958 Jan & Arnie Hit Jenny Lee Sheet MusicMarilyn Monroe Sheet Music Down In The Meadow (1954)1878 Hotel Brighton Waltz Sheet Music Beautiful Vignette Suitable For FramingThe Coasters Sheet Music Charlie Brown (1959)Jean-michel Basquiat - Mixed Media - On The Original Sheet Music Of The '70sFun, Vintage "sailing Theme" Ukulele, Vintage Sheet Music "girl Of My Dreams" Arthur Sullivan, The Dominion Hymn, Sheet Music, 1880 CanadaBeautiful Black Lady Playing Banjo Sheet Music-black Cupid9 Vintage Sheet Music And Collection Books For Xylophone And Marimba3 Book Lot Liberace Sheet Music Book Method 2 3 Piano Organ Guitar 150+Vintage Jpk Southwestern Sterling Silver Bolo Tie Sheet Music Note Black StoneHuge Lot Of Antique Vintage Piano Sheet Music Edelweiss Czerny Elvis Beethoven1862 Skedaddle Sheet Music Civil War Suitable For FramingWizard Of Oz Sheet Music Ding-dong! The Witch Is Dead (1939) Judy GarlandElvis Presley Sheet Music All Shook Up! (1957)3 Pcs Everly Bros. Sheet Music Little Susie, Dream & Take A Message MaryElvis Presley Sheet Music Don't Be Cruel (1956)1968 Football Song Hit Teh Miami Dolphins Sheet MusicVintage Walt Disney's Donald Duck "the Three Caballeros" Uk Sheet Music 1944The Tempos Sheet Music See You In September (1959)Western Henry Fonda & Anthony Perkins Sheet Music The Tin Star (1957)1928 Musical Complete Vocal Score Show Boat Sheet MusicThe Organist 12 Issues 1980's-90's Lorenz Organ Sheet MusicTable Game Ping Pong Sheet Music 1902 Ping Pong Lancers3 Andy Gibb Hits Time Is Time & An Everlasting Love Sheet MusicPoco Songbook Legend (crazy Love) 1979 Sheet Music Book W/ Photos Free Usa Mail Lot Of Vintage 125++ Piano Sheet Music And BooksCataract Rag 1914 Sheet Music Stark Music Co St Louis Mo Robert Hampton Ragtime Adjustable Folding Sheet Music Stand Score Holder Mount Tripod Carrying Gig BagUnique! "wish You Were Here " Signed Sheet Music, Harold Rome, Joshua Logan ++12 Van Doorn Morgan Cover Designs Lot Some Scarce Sheet MusicRare! Signed 1944 Sheet Music, "sadie Thompson" Howard Dietz, June Havoc 1934 Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Folio Of Songs Sheet Music/tonight Is Mine1962 Joanie Sommers Hit Johnny Get Angry Sheet Music9 Les Paul Mary Ford Hits Smoke Rings Sheet Music4 60's-70's Waylon Jennings Hits Lot Walk On Out Of My Mind Sheet Music3 Johnny Cash Hits Lot Ballad Of A Teenage Queen Including Songbook Sheet Music5 Jefferson Starship & Starship Hits Lot Runaway & Stranger Sheet Music5 From Lucille Ball Musical Lot Wildcat Sheet Music9 Pcs Rock 'n Roll Sheet Music Santana, Sonny & Cher, Tommy Roe, Stevie WonderIsrael Full Sheet Of Stamps, Israeli Music And Songs, Mnh Vfc1860 Humorous Songs Master Alonzo Tremaine Family Sheet MusicHuge Lot Of Concertina Sheet Music. About 360 Pieces Of Sheet Music.Financier James Fisk Jr Sheet Music 1869 Enterprise March1950 Billy Kenny & The Ink Spots Hit You Left Me Everything But You Sheet MusicElvis Presley Sheet Music Doncha' Think It's Time (1958)1885 Civil War General President Us Grant Funeral March Sheet MusicGrace Kelly Movie Sheet Music 1956 Bronislau Kaper's The Swan ThemeLot Wwii Dance Band Sheet Music 1st Saxophone Eb Alto 1942-1943Gulliver's Travels (7 Pieces) 1939 Movie Sheet MusicLesley Gore - Sheet Music - She's A Fool - 60's Pop Rock Top 40 - Nice - Nr1953 Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Ca Souviner Sheet Music "calico Rag" Original 1958 Royal Teens Sheet Music - Big Name Button

Recent News: Sheet Music

Source: Google News

Denver Post Fall Calendar, 9/27/2014
The Denver Post, September 27th

27: CALF's family-friendly "Harvest Day" offers a pumpkin patch, hayrides, carriage rides, exhibits, games and music on the 133-acre Lowell Ranch, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free. CALF's Ag Barn, 2330 S. I-25, ... Oct. 25-26: Offering "Rides, Candy...Read more

Weekend Briefing
Bennington Banner, September 26th

BENNINGTON -- The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites in honor of National Public Lands Day. Check with your local forest or grassland or on www.recreation.gov to see if your destination charges a fee. Go online...Read more

Area Arts News
The Daily Star, September 26th

Harkening back to a tradition that is centuries old and still common among soloists, the ensemble has adapted to performing sans printed sheet music. They will perform Bartók's string quartets Nos. 2, 4, and 6 from memory. The cost is $24 in advance or...Read more

Event City puts the 'fun' in 'fundraisers'
The Oshkosh Northwestern, September 24th

OAHS.org for complete details and a pledge sheet. On Saturday, the EAA AirVenture Museum will host their annual September Swing event from 7 to 11 p.m. inside the aviation museum. They'll bring the spirit and music of the 1940s alive among the Eagle...Read more

The 7 best programs for mixing professional audio
Digital Trends, September 21st

For those of you keen on composing your own music, Logic Pro's Score editor makes constructing sheet music a breeze. With an improved interface ... Choose from a variety of modern and vintage amps to achieve your desired sound. Logic lets you mix and ...Read more

The Buzz: Downtown Appleton in/out guide
Appleton Post Crescent, September 21st

Pixel Pro Audio (601 W. College Ave.) is in the process of moving from Kimberly. It sells new, used and vintage audio, DJ and recording equipment for musicians. Owner Jay Lison bought the former Morton Pharmacy building on the corner of State Street...Read more

Detroit area musical instrument shops improvise
The Detroit News, September 19th

As brick-and-mortar business dried up, he focused his energies on selling vintage instruments on Craigslist and eBay. Without the ... He said teachers and students from Dearborn to Monroe still come to him for instruments, repairs, sheet music and lessons...Read more

Belfast Arts Final Fridays Art Walk, Sept. 26, celebrates autumn
PenBayPilot.com, September 16th

Quench: Provisions for the Savvy on Beaver Street will open Artfully Orchestrated: Illustrations on Vintage Sheet Music by Jessica Harris. Harris's ink and watercolor illustrations of animals, plants, and garden fairies on a piece of vintage music...Read more