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Old 78s

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

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?

Perhaps you've been 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.

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

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.