Mandolin Babe's Has Ukulele Stuff!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Collecting Vintage Uke Sheet Music-A Treasure Hunt!

    One of the great things about being able to read music on your baritone is the absolute blast one can have by learning new tunes by shopping online for vintage uke music. All you'll need is the skill of note reading, and a baritone uke chord dictionary,a chord stamp and some spare time to relax and peruse listings online. I had no idea as to how any of the songs would sound when I got them-either the cover or the title would get my attention,and if the price was right,I'd either buy it outright or place a bid. It's so much fun to see how advertising was done back then-often there is a bit of another song included promoted as "bits of hits" or some other catchy slogan to get you to buy the sheet music for that piece as well. 
    More often than not,your vintage music is going to be somewhat fragile-so what I do with mine is I scan a copy for my own personal use,and keep the original stored in a protective magazine cover and in a special folder of my file cabinet. I can then use a chord stamp on the scanned copy for bari chords if I don't know them by heart. The chords are more complicated than what we use today,often diminished or augmented,and the lyrics are far superior to today's drivel. Nothing like knowing your sheet music was also available on talking machine,gramophone,or for player piano! 
    Amazingly enough,99% of the music I have has the uke arrangements done by May Singhi Breen,whose memorial I have sponsored and have a link to on this page should you want to leave flowers and a note to the "Ukulele Lady" 
    Now one thing I want to warn you about is shipping fees-check those before you bid or buy-I have been known to email a seller and ask if they'd mail using media mail rate if I feel the shipping is outlandish. Most of the time the seller will do this without any fuss. As you get into collecting,you'll find yourself liking certain arranging teams-I have found I like the works of Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. Once you discover your favorite arrangers,that will help greatly in your shopping. 
     Remember to look for lots as well-and should you receive some music in a lot you don;t care for,you can always place it up for sale or bid to make your deal even sweeter. Just be sure to place a cardboard backing in the envelope with the sheet music you sell to prevent it getting bent up. Happy Hunting!


  1. I have a bit of a collection of songs too. About a year ago I bought a large banana box full of sheet music from 1890 to 1950. It had about 30% western songs. On the bottom of the box was a flattened out letter from 1872. It was written in Old German and I asked Raimund Sper of the German Ukulele Club to help me figure it out. It becomes a longer story but it turns out the letter was from a soldier in the German army during the Franco-Prussian War.

  2. I'd love to hear what that letter has to say!