Antique Helper to sell large collection of antique sheet music December 18

(December 1, 2010) Staff at Antique Helper Auctions in Indianapolis, Indiana have been busy sorting through thousands of pieces of antique sheet music, de-accessioned from The Indiana Historical Society. According to Antique Helper staffer John Sabol, this sheet music, donated from single-owner collection, was amassed over many years of careful collecting. All proceeds from the sale of this collection will be used to fund future acquisitions for the Indiana Historical Society.

While antique sheet music is usually collected for its cover art—providing affordable decorating options for many collectors, there are also plenty of musicians and historians who seek out certain pieces for their entertainment and historic value. With the current rise in the popularity of the ukulele, there’s been a surge in musicians collecting music not just for the aesthetic value of the cover art, but also for the sake of the song its self—especially if it was originally published with . Most of these people make it a point to learn the songs and perform them, making this a unique way to preserve our history and heritage.

This collection represents material culture and popular culture at their finest,” says Bill Kranz, who is leading staff in sorting the vast collection into easy to digest lots. “The variety of songs and great cover illustrations add to the appeal of this collection.”

A quick perusal of this collection is like a frolic through early 20th Century America. Popular crazes like Rag Time and Two Step dances are well represented. Great moments in history, from the sinking of the Titanic, Lindburg’s historic flight across the Atlantic, the sinking of the Lusitania and WWI, are all represented through cover art and song.

Songs about moments of leisure, from circuses to sporting and automobiles to outdoor adventures tell the tale of Americans at play at the dawn of the 20th century. Titles like “Movie Rag,” “My Kewpie Doll,” and “Ukulele Moon,” give a delightful indication of national crazes and trends.

The variety of titles and artwork represented on the covers of ragtime songs alone rage from light novelty tunes to political statements of the times. Issues like women’s independence are highlighted through song, as well as more negative aspects of society, such as drugs and alcohol, promiscuity, and gambling. Songs with titles like “Dope” and “Alcoholic Blues” provide a window to a darker side of society.

America An unfortunate episode from American history is portrayed strongly through racially-charged songs and cover illustrations. Titles and artwork reflect often unfortunate feelings and practices of the time. Despite the negative aspect of some of these pieces, they reflect an important time in American history, and are highly sought after by collectors of Black Americana and historians.

Other, lighter themes include horse racing, masquerade, circus and romance provide insight into the lighter side of life.

Patriotic themes, especially songs written during WWI, marches, and presidential tunes paint a picture of the political air of the times.

According to Kranz, this collection should offer across the board appeal to collectors of ephemera, Americana and illustration, as well as to musicians in search of long-lost and popular novelty jazz and ragtime tunes.

Images of the sheet music that will be offered in Antique Helper’s December 18 Art and Antiques Auction catalog can be viewed Additional uncataloged lots will also be offered on the day of the sale.