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What are some of the most-valuable 78 records?

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Quick Answer

Some of the most-valuable 78-rpm records include The Five Sharps' "Stormy Weather" and Tommy Johnson’s “Alcohol and Jake Blues.” The number 78 is a reference to the speed in which users must play the records so that the music sounds correct because of their size.

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Full Answer

Jubilee produced and released “Stormy Weather,” which was The Five Sharps' first and only record, as a limited release. Irv Rose once had a copy of the record that he borrowed to play on his radio show in 1961. After accidentally breaking the record, he offered a reward for its replacement.

A nationwide search for a “Stormy Weather” replacement only turned up three copies over the next 15 years. One of the copies was chipped, another was cracked and the final was in good condition. In 1977, the copy in good condition sold for $25,000. In 2008, someone finally found a fourth copy and put it up for auction at Christie's.

As of October 2013, the most-expensive 78-rpm record ever sold was Tommy Johnson's “Alcohol and Jake Blues” in an online auction for $37,100. Johnson first recorded the song in 1930, and it's thought that only two of these records still exists. He was one of the first blues recording artists and only made five records for Paramount Records during his brief time with the label from 1929 to 1930.

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