A Minute with Miles: Old 78s

Aug 1, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

Have you by any chance been hanging on to your grandparents’ old 78 rpm records? Carting them around, perhaps, and storing them on shelves or in boxes whenever you’ve moved from place to place? 

And perhaps thinking or hoping that after a hundred years your carefully preserved recordings of such fabulously famous artists as Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba, and Mischa Elman must surely be valuable? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re fortunate to have lovely relics of an age gone by, and reminders of the efforts of great artists. The bad news is that, if you’re talking dollars and cents, the records most likely have almost no value. And the reason is simple: there are lots of them. And that’s putting it mildly. Caruso alone made around 260 recordings and sold millions of copies. It is possible to find a rare 78, but it’s… well, rare.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.