Music takes center stage in today’s What’s It Worth? We answer a reader’s question about an early 20th century cornet handed down in the family. There is also an eye-appealing vinyl phonograph record that demonstrates not all records have just average value.
Q. My grandfather played this old cornet in the Volunteer Fireman’s Marching Band of Eureka, Mo. I received it from my father and have always wondered about both age and value. Granddad was a bricklayer by trade and was active in the Fireman’s Band in the early part of the 20th century. Can you fill in some details? — Steve in Kennewick
A. Eureka is a small town about 25 miles east of St. Louis. There’s no Volunteer Fireman’s Marching Band there today. In fact, fire protection is now provided to a multi-county area by the Eureka Fire Protection District.
Thus, Steve’s cornet is a survivor from another age and one that came from a prestigious American company.
Made by York & Sons of Grand Rapids, Mich., it is labeled as their “Professional” model.
Started by a former Army musician in 1882, founder James Warren York renamed the firm York & Son in 1887. Eleven years later, with the birth of a second boy, the name changed again to York & Sons.
The company went on to become a major manufacturer of a full line of woodwind, string, percussion and brass instruments. Included were trumpets, cornets, trombones, helicons, baritone horns, sousaphones and tubas.
York brass instruments made before 1940 were known to have superior craftsmanship and terrific tone. They were widely used by military bands.
The Army’s Quarter Master Corps and the Navy historically used York instruments and still maintain them in their possession.
This instrument carries a serial number, which tells us it was made between 1904 and 1905. It has some damage, which will keep the value low. The first valve cover — which had a mother-of-pearl button — is missing and there are few small dents.
In excellent condition, a cornet like this would be fairly priced in the $150 to $200 range. With the damage on this example, we’d say from $75 to $100 is more likely.
Q. I came across this colorful phonograph record recently at a yard sale. Never having seen one like it, I wonder if it is rare and perhaps valuable. Ten inches in diameter, the picture of the girl in the heart-shaped handcuffs certainly catches your eye. What can you tell me? Did I find a treasure? — Christopher in Richland
A. This is a Vogue Picture Record and they do have a collector following.
They were recorded and released by a Detroit company called Sav Way for less than 12 months — from May 1947 to April 1948.
Several months back we valued a standard 33 1/3 album by the 1960s Northwest rock group, The Kingsmen. It wasn’t worth much, as is usually the case with common recordings.
In this case, several factors combine to make Vogue Picture Records far more desirable than the average disc you might find at a garage sale.
First, the company was in business for that very short period. Secondly, they released very few records. The Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors says no more than 80 titles were ever put out.
Finally, the art makes a great deal of difference on these 78 rpm records. The artist illustrations (almost always in full color) are actually imbedded in the transparent vinyl of the record. Most illustrations have something to do with the song title. Many are mawkish and overly saccharine. Like this one.
So, by combining good graphics and scarcity with a degree of rarity, and adding the fact that there is a group of people who are very interested — you get collector value. Especially if the example in question is in very nice condition. This one is.
Added to those factors, this release by Sav Way is one jump up the accepted value ladder from the common picture record.
You Took Advantage Of Me is rated by the Vogue Picture Record Collectors’ group as a $50 to $75 item. We’ve seen them sell for as much as $70 online. More common Vogues will sell between $10 and $30 in similar sales situations.
Terry K. Maurer, Tri–Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What’s It Worth? by email to tchwhatsitworth@ gmail.com.