Welcome to the New 78 Blog

Posted by Sherwin Dunner, October 17, 2011 06:05pm | Post a Comment
We'll be keeping you up to date here with news related to our expanding activity with those breakable pre-vinyl artifacts sometimes referred to as “shellac” records.

As a point of interest, shellac is not just an arbitrary tag pinned on 78s. Just like shellac's well-known use as a furniture finish, the secretion of the Asian Lac bug was also the primary ingredient for 78s from the beginning of the industry in the early 1900s up 'til around 1950, when vinyl began to replace it. It takes approximately 100,000 Lac bugs to produce one pound of shellac, so this species is owed a special debt of gratitude among fans of the 78 rpm record. 

Upcoming entries might offer tales of amazing 78 finds or "fish that got away" stories dredged from ancient 78 lore. We'll highlight overlooked 78s or artists you should hear. We'll invite contributions from guest collectors. As the next advance in digital technology hypes storing music collections in the cloud, we'll delve into the lingering appeal these arcane fetish objects still have for some of us.

We recently added a batch of 78s to the Buy Stuff section of, which now allows 78 surfers to select “78” from the drop down menu to view all the 78s together by date added. Items can also be selected by specific category of interest. We will continue to add 78s to the site and encourage you to check back regularly. As with other items purchased on, shipping is free on 78s (USA only), saving 78 buyers at least $4.00 or $5.00 on shipping charges they would normally have to foot on an eBay or private mail order purchase. We grade 78s conservatively. Find out more about our 78 grading codes

Recent additions to include pre-war blues 78s:

Leroy Carr

Baby Don't You Love Me No More / Tired of Your Low Down Ways

Jazz Gillum
 with Big Bill Broonzy on guitar
Tell Me Mama / My Big Money

Ida Cox
Lovin' Is The Thing I'm Wild About / Bama Bound Blues

and a super clean, primitive post-war blues:

James Tisdom  
I Feel So Good / Overhaul Blues
on the obscure Universal Fox label

For rhythm and blues fans, we've added:

New Orleans artists Ruth and Al
Real Gone Party / Hello Baby

Three Bits of Rhythm
That's The Boogie / I Used To Work In Chicago

Mitzie Mars backed by Sax Mallard's group
I'm Glad / Roll 'Em

There are Arabic 78s on Cairophone:

El Gondel 

Om Kalsoum 

and rare ethnic music labels:

Sestetto Tafarella
Una Volta Sola / Conte Verde
Verdi L'Insuperable 


Floare Din Banat / De Dor Si De Joc

Jazz items include:

Blue Steele and His Orchestra  
Be My Baby / Though You Went Away

and a frantic big band boogie woogie disc:

Will Bradley and His Orchestra

Beat Me Daddy (Eight To The Bar) Pt 1 / Pt 2

In post-war country we have Hal "Lone Pine's" unforgettable “I'd Like To Sit With The Baby Sitter” (try covering this song now):

Hal “Lone Pine” and His Mountaineers
I'd Like To Sit With The Baby Sitter / She Took, She Took
RCA Victor DJ Sample

and blind honky-tonk singer Leon Payne's "I'm a Lone Wolf": 

Leon Payne
I'm A Lone Wolf / I Just Said Goodbye To My Dreams

This is just a small sampling and there are many more to check out. If you'd like to see particular artists or styles on this part of the site, let us know.

A little history...We are actively looking to buy 78 collections that cover most but not all of the 78 categories (apologies to classical and opera buffs) that have been collected since the first big mania for collecting records of an earlier period. I had always assumed the first wave of 78 collectors were those enthusiasts of the 1940s turned off by big band swing music, choosing instead to stalk junk stores looking for 1920s classic New Orleans jazz. Recently I ran across a reference in a 1927 Talking Machine News magazine that described the “buying and selling of old records, and the people who make a hobby of collecting these,” so more likely, the passion for collecting records goes back in some form almost to the birth of the industry. 
Rather than just nostalgia for an earlier period, my experience as a collector, and in observing others I've met over the years, is that our impulse is triggered by a hunger for music that goes untapped by a commercial industry that markets to the masses, and the music of an earlier era grabbed us and won't let go. Some people prefer pork to steak. Musically speaking, we just prefer another time and place to here and now. When we discover a 78 with music that speaks to our hunger, we want more – it might sound raucous or groundbreaking, outsider or underclass, primitive or sophisticated. Whatever the call, it's a powerful force – and one day you might find yourself like I did, running for your life from an angry sow through the slop in a black farmer's pigpen. She thought I wanted her piglets, but all I wanted were the blues 78s he said were stored in the shed in the middle of the pen.

The 1940s generation was a passionate lot, but with pretty Catholic tastes. Collector's mags reflecting their interests popped up and flourished, the high water mark being Record Changer magazine which ran from 1942 through the mid 1950s. This crowd collected early “hot jazz,” which meant jazz with solos, and if a record was devoid of soloing it often ended up in the junk or trade pile. Barrelhouse piano and female blues singers like Bessie Smith when accompanied by jazz combos also passed muster, but rural guitar blues and backwoods string band records were shunned. An older jazz collector once described what happened when a Paramount Records distributor's stock turned up in New York City. He and his ilk picked clean the boxes of jazz and piano items like Will Ezell, but ignored box lots of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Rescued by
Jazz Collectors
Dumpster Bound
Old time country, gospel and rural blues collectors gradually appeared on the scene in the 1950s and 1960s roughly at the same time as the blues and folk festivals stimulated interest in traditional music, even showcasing early recording artists who had been located. 78s featuring traditional music that had been passed over gradually found their way into the right hands.
Country blues artists like Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake, jug bands like Cannon's Jug Stompers, string bands with curious names like Wilmer Watts Lonely Eagles and Ephraim Woodie and the Henpecked Husbands became sought after. Doo-wop vocal group, rockabilly and early rock and roll 78s also gained a following, and what might be the final frontier is now gaining wider acceptance. Thanks to reissues, the Internet and a passionate core of collectors and researchers, interest in foreign 78s - the vernacular music of exotic cultures - has been gaining momentum. While musically inscrutable and inaccessible to many Westernized ears, at their best these discs have a ring of authenticity – raw, exciting music untainted by commercializing forces. It galvanizes the collector impulse that often drives us to slog through pigpens.

Amoeba wants to buy 78s from all these styles and categories – blues singers, jazz bands, country string and fiddle bands, gospel and foreign, post war rock and roll, rockabilly, doo-wop vocal groups and later blues – and we'll travel anywhere for the right collection. Check out our 78 page for more details.

When you see Amoeba's message to “sell us your stuff,” think of it also as a “Wanted – 78 RPM Collections” reminder for wherever and whenever you hear about a batch of rare 78s or a quality collection.

Til next time,

Sherwin Dunner

Relevant Tags

78s (8), Skip James (3), Mississippi John Hurt (1), Blind Blake (1), Leroy Car (1), Jazz Gillum (1), Ida Cox (2), Leon Payne (1), Record Changer (1)