Loading Spinner

Sheet Music

The publication and sale of music on paper began in the 15th century after the invention of the printing press. European publishers worked out different methods for printing music during the 16th and 17th centuries. The first publisher to specialize in printed music was Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf of Leipzig, Germany. He founded his printing firm in 1719 and decided to specialize in printing music in 1754. In 1795, Gottfried Christoph Härtel acquired the company and it was renamed Breitkopf & Härtel, now the oldest music publishing house in existence.

In the United States, sheet music became popular after the American Revolution, when European music publishers immigrated to the United States and opened shops in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Baltimore. Sheet music became even more popular after the Civil War. By 1880, publishers began to print advertising on sheet music. They also included pieces of music as promotional items, including pull-out sections of newspapers. Sheet music hit its peak during the decade of 1900 to 1910.

Vintage sheet music is easy and economical for collectors to acquire, as so much of it was produced. Collectors enjoy these pieces due to their often colorful cover art and significance in modern music history. The value of vintage sheet music depends on its rarity and its condition, not its age. Sheet music produced in the United States after 1880 was so plentiful that much of it has little value today.


Quick Facts

  • The publishing house of Breitkopf and Härtel published many original works of famous composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert and Wagner
  • A copy of the "Buffalo Bill March" by Henry Weinskowitz, published about 1880 picturing Buffalo Bill on the cover was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2010 for $658
  • In 2007, a collection of 14 pieces of Confederate sheet music from the American Civil War era was sold by Heritage Auctions for $4,481.25

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

Antique Sheet Music Collection
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Sheet Music Collection
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$198 Bids
3- ABRAHAM LINCOLN SHEET MUSIC
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
3- ABRAHAM LINCOLN SHEET MUSIC
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$501 Bid
San Fernando Valley (I'm Packin' My Grip) sheet music
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
San Fernando Valley (I'm Packin' My Grip) sheet music
by Heroes and Legends
Est: $50- $100
$201 Bid
17th Century Gregorian Chant Sheet Music
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
17th Century Gregorian Chant Sheet Music
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$401 Bid
17th Century Gregorian Chant Sheet Music
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
17th Century Gregorian Chant Sheet Music
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$401 Bid
MUSIC -- LE FEVRE, X. Méthode de clarinette. Adoptée par la conservatoire pour
Nov 17, 1:30 PM CET
MUSIC -- LE FEVRE, X. Méthode de clarinette. Adoptée par la conservatoire pour
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €320- €400
€3200 Bids
"On the Mississippi" Sheet Music Cover
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
"On the Mississippi" Sheet Music Cover
by Showplace
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
CHIARI GIUSEPPE
Oct 26, 3:00 PM CEST
CHIARI GIUSEPPE
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €300- €350
€3000 Bids
6- FRAMED FIRE THEMED SHEET MUSIC
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
6- FRAMED FIRE THEMED SHEET MUSIC
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$300 Bids
HALLOWEEN COOKIE CUTTERS, SHEET MUSIC, & MORE
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
HALLOWEEN COOKIE CUTTERS, SHEET MUSIC, & MORE
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$300 Bids
1913 Automobile Novelty Sheet Music
Oct 30, 9:00 AM CDT
1913 Automobile Novelty Sheet Music
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $20- $50
$100 Bids
Sheet music vintage Betty Grable
Nov 17, 6:00 PM EST
Sheet music vintage Betty Grable
by Captain Ahab's Antiques
Est: $30- $70
$200 Bids
A LARGE GROUP OF SHEET MUSIC, INCLUDING MANY BLACK AMERICAN...
Nov 20, 10:00 AM CST
A LARGE GROUP OF SHEET MUSIC, INCLUDING MANY BLACK AMERICAN...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $250- $350
$1250 Bids
[RMS TITANIC]. FOUR PIECES OF TITANIC DISASTER SHEET MUSIC....
Nov 20, 10:00 AM CST
[RMS TITANIC]. FOUR PIECES OF TITANIC DISASTER SHEET MUSIC....
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
German Sound Film Hits and Dance Music, c. 1930-50
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
German Sound Film Hits and Dance Music, c. 1930-50
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €400- €700
€1800 Bids
bp parity badge
Sheet Music and Music Scores in Picture Frames [137748]
Oct 29, 8:00 AM PDT
Sheet Music and Music Scores in Picture Frames [137748]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $80- $100
$400 Bids
bp parity badge
Sheet Music from the 19th Century [140012]
Oct 29, 8:00 AM PDT
Sheet Music from the 19th Century [140012]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
bp parity badge
Theatre & Music Album [139124]
Oct 29, 8:00 AM PDT
Theatre & Music Album [139124]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Early fireman’s sheet music booklet
Oct 26, 11:30 PM EDT
Early fireman’s sheet music booklet
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $75- $100
$500 Bids
Guns N' Roses signed sheet music
Oct 30, 9:00 AM PDT
Guns N' Roses signed sheet music
by Heroes and Legends
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$8000 Bids
Three Framed Prints of Music Sheet Covers
Nov 14, 11:00 AM AEDT
Three Framed Prints of Music Sheet Covers
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD40- AUD80
AUD200 Bids
Pretty Quadroon music sheet
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
Pretty Quadroon music sheet
by Heroes and Legends
Est: $100- $150
$150 Bids
My Blue Heaven sheet music
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
My Blue Heaven sheet music
by Heroes and Legends
Est: $40- $60
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Sheet Music


Heroes and Legends

Heroes and Legends

East Coast Books

East Coast Books

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Holabird Western Americana

Holabird Western Americana