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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

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[SHEET MUSIC]. [PETROLEUM]. WATSON, J. J. American Petroleu...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [PETROLEUM]. WATSON, J. J. American Petroleu...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$902 Bids
Antique 1912 Titanic "Just As The Ship Went Down": A Song of The Sea Sheet Music
Mar 18, 6:00 PM EDT
Antique 1912 Titanic "Just As The Ship Went Down": A Song of The Sea Sheet Music
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$251 Bid
[SHEET MUSIC]. [LINCOLN, Abraham (1801-1865), association]....
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [LINCOLN, Abraham (1801-1865), association]....
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $300- $600
$1501 Bid
COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SHEET MUSIC AND MORE
Mar 01, 12:00 PM EST
COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SHEET MUSIC AND MORE
by Converse Auctions
Est: $40- $80
$101 Bid
Collection of Antique Sheet Music
Mar 01, 9:00 AM MST
Collection of Antique Sheet Music
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $25- $50
$101 Bid
[SHEET MUSIC]. [CIVIL WAR]. Album of Sheet Music, Including...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [CIVIL WAR]. Album of Sheet Music, Including...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
[SHEET MUSIC]. [SIDESHOWS]. Group of Two Sheet Music Featur...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [SIDESHOWS]. Group of Two Sheet Music Featur...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$800 Bids
CZECH LITHOGRAPH SHEET MUSIC PISEN LASKY HVIZDALEK
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
CZECH LITHOGRAPH SHEET MUSIC PISEN LASKY HVIZDALEK
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Gigantic Collection of Nearly 500 Early 20...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Gigantic Collection of Nearly 500 Early 20...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $3,000- $6,000
$1,5000 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Huge Collection of Nearly 300 19th Century...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Huge Collection of Nearly 300 19th Century...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7500 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [THE “KNOW NOTHING” POLITICAL PARTY]. NICKS,...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [THE “KNOW NOTHING” POLITICAL PARTY]. NICKS,...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [MINSTREL SHOWS]. Group of Two Different Ver...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [MINSTREL SHOWS]. Group of Two Different Ver...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Group of Nearly 57 Sheet Music Pieces and ...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Group of Nearly 57 Sheet Music Pieces and ...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [HUMOR]. Group of Three Sheet Music with Sla...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [HUMOR]. Group of Three Sheet Music with Sla...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [MINSTREL SHOWS]. Wanted Raw Recruits. To Si...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [MINSTREL SHOWS]. Wanted Raw Recruits. To Si...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$800 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. Group of 53 Lithographed Nineteenth-Century ...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. Group of 53 Lithographed Nineteenth-Century ...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [NATIVE AMERICANS]. [RUNNING]. LEWIS, W. Dee...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [NATIVE AMERICANS]. [RUNNING]. LEWIS, W. Dee...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [NATIVE AMERICANS]. JACOBUS, J. S. To Miss M...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [NATIVE AMERICANS]. JACOBUS, J. S. To Miss M...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$800 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [SUFFRAGETTES]. DRESSLER, William (1826-1914...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [SUFFRAGETTES]. DRESSLER, William (1826-1914...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$800 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. [UNCLE TOM’S CABIN]. HOWARD, George C. (1818...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. [UNCLE TOM’S CABIN]. HOWARD, George C. (1818...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Pair of Nineteenth-Century Bound Volumes o...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[SHEET MUSIC]. A Pair of Nineteenth-Century Bound Volumes o...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $80- $100
$400 Bids
Lot of 11 Vintage Framed Sheet Music
Mar 10, 10:00 AM EST
Lot of 11 Vintage Framed Sheet Music
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $50- $100
$200 Bids
Original "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" Handwritten Sheet Music
Mar 03, 10:00 AM CST
Original "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" Handwritten Sheet Music
by Rivich Auction
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
1846 The Indian's Prayer Sheet Music by I.B. Woodbury
Mar 18, 6:00 PM EDT
1846 The Indian's Prayer Sheet Music by I.B. Woodbury
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$150 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Sheet Music


Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Converse Auctions

Converse Auctions

One Source Auctions

One Source Auctions