Collecting blues records and memorabilia



2015-06-26 12:59:46

Collecting blues records and memorabilia

Rock and pop memorabilia sees the big bucks at auction, but what about the blues?

I notice a lot of articles on your site about collecting rock and pop music memorabilia, but what about the blues? Is there anything worth collecting? - G. Franklin

I'm glad you asked this. I love blues music and have been collecting rare records from the genre for some time now.

However, you are right, the big money is to be made from rock and pop memorabilia, particularly so from the 50s and 60s. This is mainly due to the market being underpinned by wealthy baby boomers, who now have the money to invest in the bands and artists they loved while growing up.

Blues is a tricky one for collectors, with many of the early artists not leaving even the smallest traces of history behind them. But it is this scarcity of quality memorabilia that can see prices soar at auction.

For example, an original photograph of "father of the delta blues" Charlie Patton is estimated to be worth as much as 50,000 ($80,955), as there is only one in existence. This is also true of the early blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson, with just a single, signed image currently known.

Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the first original blues musicians to be recorded and therefore, one of the most collectible. A rare copy of his Rabbit Foot Blues (1926) could cost anywhere in the region of 2,000-5,000 ($3,238-8,095)at auction, possibly more, while one of his guitars (if you can find an authentic one) would be worth in excess of 100,000 ($161,884).

When it comes to collecting records, many of the earliest discs were made of shellac, whichis a notoriously fragile material andresultedin few good examples existing on today's market. Even if you do come across an original 78 at a decent price, they are certainly too fragile and valuable to play.

I collect the recordings of later artists, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, who are both great artists to start with as a fledgling collector. A first pressing copy of 1957's The Best of Muddy Waters will cost youjust 50 ($80), yet some of his rarest material can reach up to 1,000 ($1,618).

That said, prices for rare vinyls are steadily increasing as the mediumslowly comesback into fashion. Vinyl was cheapest in the late 80s, when it was first being replaced by CDs.

Overall,blues memorabilia and records may not be the best options for investment, but the genre is certainly a rewarding collecting area. When buying the blues, you are not only purchasing a record, but the years of fascinating history that comes with it.


Paul Fraser

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