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.