Auction Finds

Readers ask about March on Washington album & ukelin music

Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources for them to determine the value of the items that they own. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

This week’s questions are about a March on Washington record album and sheet music for a ukelin.

March on Washington album & ukelin music

The back cover of Broadside Records' "March on Washington" album.

Question:

I just came across one of these records in my grandparent’s basement. Is it rare? May I ask how much you paid for it?

Answer:

The reader had come across a blog post I wrote last month about an album from the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington that included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

I suspect that the album is not rare because there were likely thousands of them sold.

There were several versions, one apparently with permission of the movement’s leaders, others without. King took several companies – including Twentieth Century Fox’s Movietone News – to court in late 1963 seeking an injunction against their releasing his “I Have A Dream” speech that he had given on other occasions.

You didn’t mention if your album was exactly like mine, which was officially authorized by the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, a coalition of seven civil rights groups that organized the march. Members included King, Asa Philip Randolph, Whitney Young, John Lewis, James Farmer, Roy Wilkins and Dorothy I. Height.

The speeches were reproduced on albums by Broadside Records from tapes made by the Educational Radio Network. They were released as Broadside 592, the same inscription on mine, and the sleeves came in various colors. Sales of the albums were to benefit the civil rights movement.

Most albums don’t sell for much unless they are extremely popular. EBay is a good place to check to see if it sells and for how much. On that auction site, I found several versions that had sold for $2.66 to $19.99. One with an asking price of $99.99 did not sell. A Movietone version was selling on amazon.com for $14.99.

I would also suggest that you drop by auction houses in your area and see if a staffer there can assess the value of your album. You can find an auction house near you via auctionzip.com. Swann Auction Galleries in New York holds an auction once a year on African American manuscripts and ephemera (the next one is March 14), and Wyatt H. Day, its specialist in African American manuscripts, may be able to help.

I also offer some tips on how to determine the value of your items.

I paid less than $20 for my album, primarily because only one other person bidded against me. Otherwise, I probably could’ve gotten it for $5.

March on Washington album & ukelin music

A ukelin and instructions booklet with sheet music at auction.

Question:

Please let me know where I can buy some music for my ukelin. I have had this instrument for about 50 years and have not been able to find some music.

Answer:

I wrote a blog post two years ago after seeing a ukelin on a table at auction and wasn’t sure what it was. It was described on one website as a cross between a Hawaiian ukulele and a violin. It was patented in the 1920s and was being made until the 1960s. The instrument was sold door to door and even through the Sears catalog to people who knew little about music.

The ukelin at auction came with its original instructions booklet that include music for such songs as “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.”

As to where to find music currently, the web is the best place to start a search. I Googled “where to find ukelin music” and came across several sites:

Ukelin.com had some sheet music but the photos were so small that the music was hard to read.

The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota had sheet music for a song called “Carnival of Venice” from the late 1920s.

The Hoboken Historical Museum had sheet music for “Love’s Old Song” for sale.

EBay is another alternative. I found a 1925 ukelin instructions booklet with sheet music for sale at a starting price of $5.99.

With a little more research, you may be able to find other websites. Also, check some music stores near you. If they don’t have any sheet music, they may be able to order it for you.

 

 

Related posts:

  1. 1963 March on Washington record album
  2. A string instrument called the ukelin
  3. Reader asks about 1963 March on Washington newspaper
  4. Bert Williams in black face on sheet music
  5. A Josephine Baker record album

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