10 Most Valuable 78 RPM Records (Extremely Rare)

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This article examines some of the most valuable 78 RPM records in the world today.

In the early days of vinyl, records were played at many speeds, with 78 RPM and 10” having their heyday in the 1920s.

Following the Second World War, the use of 10” 78 RPMs began to decline as 7” singles (33 1⁄3 RPM) and 12” LPs (45 RPM) became the industry standard.

In particular, rare 1920s and 1930s blues records on labels such as Vocalion and Paramount along with Gennett and Okeh, in original ‘like new’ condition have become highly desirable to collectors.

His Master’s Voice (HMV) is another major record label who produced 78s.

Due to the relatively steep decline of 78 RPM records – many of which are now nearly a century old – these antique records have become increasingly rare and incredibly valuable to collectors.

Let’s find out more about the rare 78 RPM records that are worth a fortune today.

10. Robert Johnson, ‘Sweet Home Chicago / Walking Blues’ (1937)

Estimated value: $10,100

Released in August 1937 on record label Vocalion, Blues artist Robert Johnson’s vinyl of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ is paired with the track ‘Walking Blues.’

Both works were written and performed by Johnson. The tracks were recorded at Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ appears on Side A. This three minute song has a blues groove with Johnson’s powerful and soulful voice on top.

Side B number ‘Walking Blues’ has fantastic moments of acoustic magic and grizzly lead vocals roaring from the speaker.

Rare copies of this vinyl can be worth in the region of $10,000.

9. Tommy Johnson, ‘Bye Bye Blues / Maggie Campbell Blues’ (1928)

Estimated value: $14,200

Tommy Johnson’s ‘Bye Bye Blues’ was recorded and released in 1928 on the Victor label and also featured the song ‘Maggie Campbell Blues.’

The two tracks were composed by Johnson with his own vocals and guitar playing. ‘Bye Bye Blues’ features intricate acoustic guitar work beneath Johnson’s full bodied blues melody.

‘Maggie Campbell Blues’ on Side B sees Johnson in full voice and crafts a beautiful acoustic track to compliment his words.

The estimated value of a copy is over $14,000.

8. Charley Patton, ‘High Water Everywhere Part 1 / High Water Everywhere Part 2’ (1929)

Estimated value: $16,200

‘High Water Everywhere’ is a two part Delta blues song recorded in 1929 by legendary blues singer Charley Patton.

The song is inspired by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, and how it affected residents of the Mississippi Delta, highlighting the mistreatment of African Americans.

Patton recorded the song during his second session with Paramount in late 1929, with recordings from this particular session considered his best work.

Copies of this rare 78 RPM record hold an estimated value of over $16,200.

7. Charley Patton, ‘Hang It On The Wall / Revenue Man Blues’ (1934)

Estimated value: $16,300

Recorded throughout January into February 1934 in New York City, Charley Patton’s song ‘Hang It On The Wall’ joins forces with ‘Revenue Man Blues’ on Side B.

Released on label Vocalion, ‘Hang It On The Wall’ is a catchy, melancholy filled number with a playful and slightly clumsy vocal performance from Patton.

The flipside features ‘Revenue Man Blues’ which delivers a sleazy and muddy performance.

A copy of this record is likely to set the buyer back around as much as $16,300.

6. Long “Cleve” Reed & Little Harvey Hull, ‘Gang Of Brown Skin Women / Don’t You Leave Me Here’ (1927)

Estimated value: $16,800

Released in 1927 on the Black Patti label, Delta Blues and Ragtime tune ‘Gang Of The Brown Skin Women’ plods along with the plucking of guitar strings and Reed’s Southern delivery.

On side B ‘Don’t Leave Me Here’ follows a similar vibe to its lead song and sounds epic accompanied by the classic crackling vinyl sound.

Both tracks are written by Long “Cleve” Reed and Sunny Wilson.

A single copy of this valuable 78 RPM record has previously fetched up to $16,800.

5. Charley Patton, ‘Poor Me / 34 Blues’ (1934)

Estimated value: $17,200

The pairing of ‘Poor Me’ and ’34 Blues’ was recorded during Patton’s final sessions before his death in April 1934.

’34 Blues’ is thought to be one of Patton’s best recordings. It sways and swaggers with the blues artist meandering through his heavy vocals.

Typically, Patton’s works can be dark in tone and ‘Poor Me ‘ is certainly no exception. The narrative of the song reflects upon life as he looks down on his wife Bertha Lee from beyond the grave.

The record has been known to command $17,200 for a single rare copy.

4. Charley Patton, ‘Pony Blues / Banty Rooster Blues’ (1929)

Estimated value: $19,600

Paramount records released Charley Patton’s ‘Pony Blues’ accompanied by ‘Banty Rooster Blues’ in August 1929. Patton features on both tracks whilst contributing vocals and guitar work.

The recordings were produced in June 1929 in Richmond, Indiana, at Gennett Studios. Side A sees ‘Pony Blues’ burst into life with energy and a passionate performance from Patton.

On the reverse is the gritty and darker tones of ‘Banty Rooster Blues.’

The vinyl is worth in the region of $19,600.

3. Charley Patton, ‘Love My Stuff / Jersey Bull Blues’ (1934)

Estimated value: $23,800

‘Love My Stuff’ and ‘Jersey Bull Blues’ appear on this 1934 double-sided vinyl which sees Charley Patton in fine form.

Released on record label Vocalion, ‘Love My Stuff’ shows Patton’s vocal versatility as he rips through lyrics over solemn guitar licks.

The oddly lighter tones of ‘Jersey Bull Blues’ feature on the B-side.

One of these vinyl records would likely set a buyer back around $23,800.

2. Robert Johnson, ‘Cross Road Blues / Ramblin’ On My Mind’ (1937)

Estimated value: $26,000

Robert Johnson appears on this two track 78 from 1937 as an accomplished guitar player and vocalist.

The energetic ‘Cross Road Blues’ is a fantastic A-side, full of pulsating acoustic strumming and soaring vocal stylings.

The vinyl’s flipside sees a complete change of pace in ‘Ramblin’ On My Mind’ and its classic blues pacing.

This rare Robert Johnson record is worth in the region of $26,000.

1. Tommy Johnson, ‘Alcohol And Jake Blues / Ridin’ Horse’ (1930)

Estimated value: $37,000

Released on Paramount in 1930, Tommy Johnson recorded two songs at their studio in Grafton Wisconsin around April 1930.

‘Alcohol And Jake’s Blues’ is paired with B-side ‘Ridin’ Horse’ on a vinyl known to have only two remaining brittle discs still in circulation.

It is considered one of the genre’s lost masterpieces and a “holy grail” for blues collectors around the world.

One of just two surviving copies recently sold for over $37,000.

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