Old Sheet Music - What's it worth?

If you have a 'treasure trove' of old music, it may be less valuable than you expect.

Last week I was cleaning out my piano bench and came across a stack of old sheet music that we had taken from my great-grandmother's house when she died. Looking at the faded artwork on the slightly worn covers, I thought to myself, "This could be worth something!" So began a mad search into the value of antique sheet music. A fruitless search, I might add, as I discovered that most old sheet music has more sentimental than actual value.

Most sheet music, according to the Antiques Roadshow Insider, is valuable only to the person collecting it. Less than five percent of sheet music is worth more than a few dollars, according to one dealer interviewed in the article. What this means for collectors is that they can collect a lot of music without breaking their budget. What it means for sellers it that they'll likely never get rich selling old sheet music.

However, some antique sheet music is worth more than the usual $2-$10. Examples include ET Paull covers done by the A. Hoen Company, covers of rare comic book characters, and transportation themed songs (these can and do sell for upwards of $100). Of course, less valuable music can still be sold for a high price if the collector is willing to pay for it. Other factors that affect the price of old sheet music are the graphics, composer, condition, and scarcity. For an antique piece to sell at a higher price, it must have all of these factors in its favor. For example, an extremely rare piece of music might only sell for a few dollars if it is in terrible condition. Or an ET Paull cover may be worth very little if it is fairly common.

Still wondering if my sheet music could really be worth so little, I turned to the online auction giant, Ebay, to test the information I had garnered. Sure enough, most of the old music was under $10. The music that cost more turned out to be either several pieces sold together, a book, or the occasional rare cover.

Although somewhat disappointed, I decided that my old sheet music was still valuable, if only in a purely sentimental sense. For those who are considering collecting sheet music, it could be a great hobby that doesn't cost too much. Just don't expect your collection to be worth any more than you paid for it.

Comments 52 comments

ProCW profile image

ProCW 8 years ago from South Carolina

Very interesting! Maybe I should dig out all the old sheet music and if not sell it, play it... haha :)

ProCW

PS. Up goes my thumb! Happy hubbing!


Kathy 7 years ago

I have a large lot of old sheet music I would like to sell really cheap. Where would I start? Thanks!


hindisongs profile image

hindisongs 5 years ago

Awesome and some excellent information is shared...


Tim Ewing 5 years ago

This Hub is really helpful for me as a novice piano student.

Thank you for this great Hub!


Steeltom 5 years ago

Need to check inside my old piano bench now. I may find something of great value that I had no idea that was there


WillSteinmetz profile image

WillSteinmetz 5 years ago

I love classical music. Your hub is such a help. Thanks for sharing.


PEARL RIORDAN 4 years ago

I HAVE MUSIC BOOKS FROM 1924 AND UP. WOULD LIKE TO SELL THEM BUT DON'T KNOW WHAT TO ASK FOR THEM. ANY SUGGESTIONS?


Rich 4 years ago

I have 100 plus pieces of sheet music from the 1920's and 30's. Most in very good condition. If interested, email me at mistere10@juno.com


steve 4 years ago

I have a few pieces of sheet music, I am curious about what they may be worth. One of the pieces is from 1897 and is called THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER MARCH


Lexsy.M 4 years ago

how much would an old piano music sheet dating back to the 1860 sell for?


patty.c 4 years ago

i have a heap of old intrumental music mainly for piano and trumpet but more various instruments aswell.

Sheet music from the 1800's and 1900's.. if anyone is interested contact me on whappa.patty@hotmail.com, thanks.


Dante 4 years ago

I've got dads old collection he was an entertainer of sorts. popural sheet music from 30's to the 60's. any takers?


peggy 4 years ago

I have some antique sheet music from the 20's up to Judy Garland, Rogers & Hammerstien to Irving Berlin. Have no idea how much they are worth OR where to find out if they are worth anything. Any ides as to where I can find out??

thanks!


Candy 4 years ago

I have piano sheet music from the 50's to the 20's from Frederie Chopin to Irving Berlin and i don't know what they could be worth or if there is any market for them at all. How could i find out what they are worth or where i could sell them?!?


gmacror 4 years ago

I have sheet music CHANCES ARE by Johnny Mathis . Don't know if its worth anything. It is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and was recorded by Johnny in 1957.Do you know of anyone who would like to buy it. I live in York UK

Thanks Gordon


Erin 4 years ago

I found about 300 old sheet music books. I want to know what they are worth. They are published moslty in New york New york and from the 1920s. Any one have any suggestions to find the value. The covers are very detailed and some famouse people are on them.


sandy s 4 years ago

I have a lot of old sheet music from 30's and 40's also lot of music books. I have both piano and organ music. I anyone is interested please contact me. sdboyd12@aol.com


tim 3 years ago

i have some sheet music of al jolsen was wondering if it was worth anything and how much


john bolner 3 years ago

I have a 75 year collection of piano sheet music for sale. approx: 1200 pieces. $1,000 or obo. contact me www.squeekybolner@yahoo.com


Betty Mcgonigle 3 years ago

I have hundreds and hundreds of old sheet music from the 20's, 30's & 40's. If anyone is interested in buying, please contact me at bettymcgoni@comcast.net


Dinehkika 3 years ago

Where can I sell or take my piano sheet music? I have 2 dozens of music sheets ranging from 1900-1930


Dinehkika 3 years ago

I also have 500 piano rolls from Chicago, New York I would like to know how much they are worth.


shirley 3 years ago

I have old war time sheet music. How do I find the cost to sell?


Sarah 3 years ago

Where r all the answers 2 every ones questions?


Tommy 3 years ago

Does anyone out there have the song sheet (complete) for the 1928 song: "When You Said Goodnight, Did You Really Mean Goodbye?" Also the 1932 version and song sheet "Can't You Read Between The Lines."


dinehkika 3 years ago

I have piano sheets 40 yrs of hit tunes, Plantation, Minstrel, Novelty, Cowboy Songs and mountain ballads.

Early American song song Spinners with piano accompaniments by Margaret & Travis Johnson (New York)

Zondervan's Chorusus, By Robert Hughes

songs of the Gay Nineties by Robins Music Corp. Edited by Hugo Frey.

the Golden Book of Favorite songs By Hall & McGreary Co. Chicago.

Treasury of the Great Operettas The Goden Age of Operetta full set

Sheet music Happy Days by Leofriedman. The Etude, Edel Weiss. Iving Berlins All Alone 1607 Broadway New York

You'llnever know Hello" Frisco Hello" Mack Gordon & harry

A waltz in springtime, Dreamtides. I have over a hundred Piano rolls also. too many to mention.


Derrick 3 years ago

I have a trunk full of old music books volume after volume dating back to 1922 can anyone help me out they been taking up space for years must go


Ken mcbride 3 years ago

I have all above is it worth much


Terry stern 3 years ago

I have old sheet music. Mostly worn but some in good condition. Anyone interested? Contact me@ lynnterrystern@yahoo.com.

Thank you


Gene Hermenet 3 years ago

I have a piece of sheet music, AS ONCE IN MAY , English words by Mrs. M. Lawson, music by H. Dietrich showing copyright 1905, by Hatfield & Co.

Wondering if it had any value


DJC 3 years ago

Many old pieces 1940s and up. Email cpo1954@aol.com


Leslie 3 years ago

I have lots of old sheet music from 1930's to 50's. Great to see young Bing Crosby and Frank S. smiling at u. Is this stuff worth anything?


colt 2 years ago

I have been collecting Elvis Presley sheet music and records for years as a hobby only. I was never in it for the money, but only for the fun. Sheet music is only worth a lot of money to the person who is willing to pay a lot for rare or scarce sheet music, and especially if it is autographed.

If you are looking to make some money for your old sheet music, i suggest that you post it on ebay for bidding. That's your best bet in making some good money, because there are a lot of sheet music collectors out there that will pay good money for what they are looking for.

Make sure you take very clear up close photos of what you want to sell, because collectors want to see that first and foremost. I am an avid collector of vintage vinyl records and sheet music, and that's what i want to see, as would anyone buying something off ebay. Good Luck.


Jengel23@aol.com 2 years ago

I have a lot of sheet music from early 1900 and earlier piano books.


sheilawhitehead42@yahoo 2 years ago

I have a stack of music ranging from the mid. 1800's. publishers are: Jerome $ Schwarts 1445 Broadway, Ny. A lot of them are published by this co. I have an Al Jolson piece and many more.


jackdab 2 years ago

I acquired a handwritten sheet music score written by Alan Copeland, a famous music composer, for Count Basie. The name of the musical score is "Lady Be Good". I held on to this sheet music for 50 years. I believe Count Basie actually played this music on his piano. I researched this musical score and found that Alan Copeland arranged music for Count Basie. I feel that this is a rare find and possibly a Count Basie collector would be interested and I would to know the value of this composition before I try to sell it.


Bear18 2 years ago

I have Charles widor organ sheet music symphonie 13 and it's in French 1924

I have no idea what's it worth. Anyone have a clue?


Lori 2 years ago

1916 Bach sheet music is it worth anything?


Trish(Australia) 2 years ago

Does anyone answer these questions???? I have stacks of old sheet music, vocal scores from musicals, old albums of songs, vinyl records and old books, which I would like to sell preferably on the Gold Coast Queensland, Australia or anyone who is interested. Please email Pattifran@outlook.com.


Michele 2 years ago

I read somewhere online ( can't remember what the site was but when I remember I will post it) that these old music/notes songs are worth anywhere from $2.00 to $100.00. the site didn't list which ones were on the low or high end. I would suggest taking them to an antique dealer or maybe even a pawn shop and get an opinion and actually going to several is the smarter way to go so you can compare their viewpoint on it and come up with something pretty close to correct.


Anna 2 years ago

I,also would like to sell old sheet music. Would greatly

appreciate information on how to achieve that.

Thanks


Miriam 2 years ago

Have large stack of 1918-1924 sheet music to sell. Show tunes and popular songs of the day. Most in perfect condition. VERY reasonable.


john roz 20 months ago

I WISH TO SELL CLASSICAL PIANO SHEET MUSIC.I AVE I,BERLIN SHEET PIANO AND MANY OTHER FAMOUS PIANO PLAYERS WHERE CAN I FIND THIS INFORMATION.


Marco 20 months ago

I've got a Tosca libretto year 1899. Ricordi edition. Do someone know how much may be valued? TIA marco.galimberti(AT)tiscali.it


Dee 17 months ago

I am in search of the vintage sheet music. From the 40s " Dolores" and 60-70 "Rickki" Thanks for help...


Marjanne 15 months ago

I have an old copy of "The Golden Book of Favorite Songs," published between 1915 and 1923. How can I determine value and where to sell?


konjurz@yahoo.com 9 months ago

Wanted: Piano books Ludvig Schytte, Boston Music Company publisher


Tonya n 8 months ago

I have a bunch of old piano notes books u can have them all for 100 bucks i got from years 1890 to 1950s email djmoodyglitta1987@yahoo.com


Dee Roberts 4 months ago

I have some books of sheet music with photographs of the artists such as Carly Simon And Paul Simon in excellent condition. What may they be worth?


carol davis 2 months ago

I have sheet music in Russian German opera style etc.


Angie 7 weeks ago

I have old sheet music ,Rodgers and Hammerstine ,BOB Crosby and Mozelle March and lots more


CYong74 profile image

CYong74 5 weeks ago from Singapore

This is one of those things that really need a right buyer. I have all these organ scores from the 70s/80s that my friends consider overdue for the recycling bin. But a while ago the republisher started reselling electronic PDFs of them, and made a small fortune.

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