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.
connie palmer on February 05, 2019:
I have many sheet music's from the early 1900's to 1930. Can there be any worth to some of them. Example: A Witches Dance, 1909.
hugh beaton on March 20, 2017:
i have a copy of "Donald McPhedran`s collection of bagepipe musi - part 1 and wonder if it has a value
Yong Kuan Leong from Singapore on August 19, 2016:
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.
Angie on August 06, 2016:
I have old sheet music ,Rodgers and Hammerstine ,BOB Crosby and Mozelle March and lots more
carol davis on July 04, 2016:
I have sheet music in Russian German opera style etc.
Dee Roberts on May 03, 2016:
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?
Tonya n on January 06, 2016:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com on December 03, 2015:
Wanted: Piano books Ludvig Schytte, Boston Music Company publisher
Marjanne on June 28, 2015:
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?
Dee on May 04, 2015:
I am in search of the vintage sheet music. From the 40s " Dolores" and 60-70 "Rickki" Thanks for help...
Marco on February 02, 2015:
I've got a Tosca libretto year 1899. Ricordi edition. Do someone know how much may be valued? TIA marco.galimberti(AT)tiscali.it
Miriam on September 14, 2014:
Have large stack of 1918-1924 sheet music to sell. Show tunes and popular songs of the day. Most in perfect condition. VERY reasonable.
Anna on August 22, 2014:
I,also would like to sell old sheet music. Would greatly
appreciate information on how to achieve that.
Michele on April 08, 2014:
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.
Trish(Australia) on February 17, 2014:
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.
Lori on February 11, 2014:
1916 Bach sheet music is it worth anything?
Bear18 on January 22, 2014:
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?
jackdab on December 08, 2013:
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.
sheilawhitehead42@yahoo on December 05, 2013:
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.
Jengel23@aol.com on December 02, 2013:
I have a lot of sheet music from early 1900 and earlier piano books.
colt on November 28, 2013:
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.
Leslie on September 11, 2013:
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?
DJC on September 08, 2013:
Many old pieces 1940s and up. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gene Hermenet on June 30, 2013:
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
Terry stern on May 30, 2013:
I have old sheet music. Mostly worn but some in good condition. Anyone interested? Contact me@ email@example.com.
Ken mcbride on April 23, 2013:
I have all above is it worth much
Derrick on March 28, 2013:
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
dinehkika on January 28, 2013:
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.
Tommy on January 26, 2013:
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."
Sarah on January 14, 2013:
Where r all the answers 2 every ones questions?
shirley on January 02, 2013:
I have old war time sheet music. How do I find the cost to sell?
Dinehkika on October 16, 2012:
I also have 500 piano rolls from Chicago, New York I would like to know how much they are worth.
Dinehkika on October 16, 2012:
Where can I sell or take my piano sheet music? I have 2 dozens of music sheets ranging from 1900-1930
Betty Mcgonigle on October 13, 2012:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
john bolner on October 12, 2012:
I have a 75 year collection of piano sheet music for sale. approx: 1200 pieces. $1,000 or obo. contact me email@example.com
tim on October 06, 2012:
i have some sheet music of al jolsen was wondering if it was worth anything and how much
sandy s on September 06, 2012:
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin on July 24, 2012:
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.
gmacror on June 26, 2012:
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
Candy on June 26, 2012:
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?!?
peggy on May 23, 2012:
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??
Dante on February 12, 2012:
I've got dads old collection he was an entertainer of sorts. popural sheet music from 30's to the 60's. any takers?
patty.c on January 22, 2012:
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 email@example.com, thanks.
Lexsy.M on January 01, 2012:
how much would an old piano music sheet dating back to the 1860 sell for?
steve on December 16, 2011:
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
Rich on November 04, 2011:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
PEARL RIORDAN on October 29, 2011:
I HAVE MUSIC BOOKS FROM 1924 AND UP. WOULD LIKE TO SELL THEM BUT DON'T KNOW WHAT TO ASK FOR THEM. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
WillSteinmetz on June 06, 2011:
I love classical music. Your hub is such a help. Thanks for sharing.
Steeltom on April 02, 2011:
Need to check inside my old piano bench now. I may find something of great value that I had no idea that was there
Tim Ewing on March 13, 2011:
This Hub is really helpful for me as a novice piano student.
Thank you for this great Hub!
hindisongs on February 03, 2011:
Awesome and some excellent information is shared...
Kathy on July 10, 2009:
I have a large lot of old sheet music I would like to sell really cheap. Where would I start? Thanks!
ProCW from South Carolina on July 18, 2008:
Very interesting! Maybe I should dig out all the old sheet music and if not sell it, play it... haha :)
PS. Up goes my thumb! Happy hubbing!