I stopped at a garage sale the other day and picked up some records.
They didn’t look like any records I had ever seen. They were small; smaller than 45s. They were only recorded on one side and they looked really old. The label told me that they were Little Wonder Records and on the back the patent dates were all around 1909. The sale also had available a large stack of children’s books on records. Both the seller and I thought these small black vinyl beauties were children songs.
I inquired as to what price the owner wanted and he let me have them for $5 USD. I had no idea if they were worth anything (I got about 10 for $5 so I got a good deal) and they were worth the price to me. (I also picked up all the vintage record and book sets, all in perfect condition.)
When I got home my husband and I decided to hit the internet and see what we had.
It turned out that these records were not children’s songs at all. They were one and a half to two minute versions of popular songs of the time for people who were looking for low cost musical entertainment. According to Wikipedia they sold for five to ten cents apiece. The Little Wonder records were made from 1914-1923. The songs are played at 78 rpms and so we pulled out one of our record players capable of playing 78s to listen.
We started out with what appeared to be the oldest of the songs we had: Little Wonder #20, Back to the Carolina You Love, Baritone. This turned out to be Al Jolson from 1914.
For a record that is 100 years old and has been played many, many times by the look of it, the vinyl played pretty well. A little scratchy, but certainly clear and understandable.
We had a good time listening to the rest of the small records and all of them are just wonderful. I have some more research to do on some of the performers. Listening today to what was popular 100 years ago on a record from that time period was really exciting.
I think I just started a new record collection.