Frequently Asked Questions



  • What are 78 rpm records?
  • Between which years were them produced?
  • Which singers have recorded?
  • What purpose does it serve to collect them?
  • Where can I find them now?
  • How should I clean them?
  • How can they be reproduced?
  • Which is the best way to preserve them?
  • How much are they worth?
  • Does carlosmb buy 78 rpm records?
  • What about phonograph cylinders?
  • Does carlosmb buy or sell phonograph cylinders?


    What are 78 rpm records?
    Generally speaking, the “78 rpm records” term refers to those recordings that generally play at 78 rpm and that were produced between the end of XIX century and the first half of XX century. After saying this, it is necessary to point out that many different speeds were used and that in some countries, 78 rpm records were still produced many years after that (for economic reasons). They are also known as “shellac records”, “gramophone records”, “bakelite records”...

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    Between which years were them produced?
    As said before, the first recordings were made in Spain in 1899 and finally this format was abandoned in the early 1960s. In some countries, 78 rpm records were sold some years before that date. Likewise, they remained in catalogues for many years.

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    Which singers have recorded?
    The companies recorded the musical genres that grew up in that period as well as the previous ones, therefore there is a wide selection of recordings of many different styles, some of them in his most interesting period.
    If our main interest is focused in ópera or zarzuela, we will find names like Enrico Caruso, Miguel Fleta, Tito Schipa, Beniamino Gigli, Rosa Ponselle, Riccardo Stracciari, Claudia Muzio, Mattia Battistini, Conchita Supervía, Aureliano Pertile, Feodor Chaliapin, Fernando de Lucia, José Mardones, Francisco Viñas, Titta Rufo…
    Likewise, among the classical instrumental players, some of the most well known are Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Pablo de Sarasate, David Oistrakh, Arthur Rubinstein, Claudio Arrau, Arthur Schnabel, Pablo Casals…
    If our favourite music is flamenco or spanish song, we will enjoy Conchita Piquer, Juanita Reina, Estrellita Castro, Gracia de Triana, La Niña de los Peines, Antonio Chacón, Manuel Torres, Niño de Marchena, Manuel Vallejo, Juanito Mojama, Manolo Caracol, Juanito Valderrama, Tomás Pavón, Cojo de Málaga, El Gloria, Niño de Cabra, Ramón Montoya, Niño Ricardo, Melchor de Marchena, Sabicas, etc.
    An so on…

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    What purpose does it serve to collect them?
    Basically, there are two reasons to collect 78 rpm records. Firstly, it is the attractive of the record as a physical object. We will find gorgeous labels, where we will appreciate the changes on the design and the different influences of the artistic movements throughout the XX century.
    Obviously the musical content is the most important reason. Because of the wide lifetime of this format, we will find many recordings in every single musical genre. Likewise, many of these recordings have not been reproduced in modern formats yet (micro-groove, vynil or CD) so if we are interested in a particular recording, we will need to find the original 78 rpm records. It should be pointed out that many of the reproduced recordings do not achieve a good audio quality. Fortunately, there are some record labels that have released many interesting recordings of the past with very high audio quality.

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    Where can I find them now?
    Appart from carlosmb, there are no shops specialized in 78 rpm records in Spain. You will find 78 rpm records from time to time at flea markets, garage sales or some internet sites.

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    How should I clean them?
    As a general rule, we should clean every record with much care. If there is some superficial dust, just clean it with a soft towel. If it is dirtier, you can use some distilled water and neutral soap. Apply this in circular motions for a few seconds with a moistened cloth, and dry out quickly. Finally, I always recommend to wait a few hours before playing the record or placing it inside a sleeve.
    Do not wet the label, or damages could be irreparable. If you need to remove a sticker, you should use a special solvent like the ones used in restoration processes.
    Do not immerse records in water, the internal damages could be severe, specially with laminated records.

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    How can they be reproduced?
    78 rpm records can be reproduced with vintage phonographs or with electric turntables.
    In the first case, each time that we play a record will be a special moment: we will turn up the crank, put a new steele needle and finally we will enjoy the recording through the horn. But this practice will have negative consequences: the audio quality will be quite deficient, the speed variations will be very limited, the grooves will be damaged by the diaphragm weight and the steele needle, etc.
    For many reasons, I always recommend to play 78s with electric turntables: it could be played at the correct speed, the stylus weight will be very light, there can be used stylus of very different sizes, the signal could be digitally processed, etc.

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    Which is the best way to preserve them?
    Records should be kept in a cool and dry place, out of direct heat and sunlight. Always store records cleaned and vertically, in individual sleeves or albums (see our SUPPLIES section). Considering the balance between the ideal requirements and the practical requirements, a temperature of 60-70 ºF and a 50% humidity will be fine.

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    How much are they worth?
    The economic value is very controversial, there are some records with a very limited production and highly sought after, but there are also many others with thousands of copies out there and a very limited demand. The reputation of an artist does not mean that his records will be valuable, I usually receive phone calls from people saying that they own “some valuable records, including a few of Caruso”.
    Despite the risk of giving a general valuation formula, prices for the following records will be between a few euros and a few hundreds (in some special cases):
    - Opera and Zarzuela. Mainly acoustic pressings, although there are some electric records quite demanded.
    - Spanish regional music. Records with asturian or galician songs, jotas, flamenco (see ABOUT CARLOS MARTÍN BALLESTER section).
    - Spoken word, politicians, speeches, publicity…
    On the other hand, those records with very little or almost no value are:
    - Symphonic records, but there are exceptions.
    - Language courses.
    - And finally, those records with the most popular tunes: there were pressed many thousands, plenty of them are still available, and the demand is very limited.

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    Does carlosmb buy 78 rpm records?
    Yes, of course, we do buy many thousands records each year, carlosmb stock over 50000 78 rpm records. This is the largest archive of records recorded and pressed in Spain. Consequently, we are proud to offer a very assorted catalogue with almost 1000 78 rpm records every three months.
    Please contact us if you would like to receive a valuation of your 78 rpm records collection, even if there are just a few items. We will ask for a few details and in a short period of time, you will receive an answer. We usually make excellent offers when a collection is of our interest.
    After saying this, behind this brand there is Carlos Martín Ballester, a noted collector of flamenco 78 rpm records and phonograph cylinders. To know more about him, including the records that he is still searching for, please visit the ABOUT CARLOS MARTÍN BALLESTER section.

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    What about phonograph cylinders?
    Using a basic terminology, the phonograph cylinder was the earliest medium for recording and reproducing sound, immediately previous to the 78 rpm record, although they coexisted for a few years. When the phonograph cylinder appeared in the market the recording industry started as well.
    They are also known as “wax cylinders”, “edison cylinders”, “cylinder records”, etc. When the tin foil medium was overcome by the wax cylinders, by the end of XIX century many cylinder makers started producing and selling phonograph cylinders in Spain.
    Let´s point out some of the most representative labels in Spain.
    Madrid was the most important phonograph center in Spain. The Hugens y Acosta had the richest catalogue, with many interesting cylinders, machines and parts. There were also other makers like A. Hugens, Viuda de Aramburo, Álvaro Ureña, Sociedad Anónima Fonográfica, Antonio G. Escobar El Graphos, José Navarro, La Primitiva Fonográfica, Julián Sola, Gabinete Fonográfico Villasante, Fábrica de Grafófonos, Fono-Reyna, Comisariato Internacional Comercio, La Fonográfica Madrileña, Bazar de La Unión, J. Oliva…
    The most known producers in Barcelona were Centro Fonográfico Comercial de Manuel Moreno Cases, Corrons, Grandes Almacenes de El Siglo, Sociedad Artístico Fonográfica, El Fonógrafo, Depósito General Fotográfico y Fonográfico, Roselló…
    There were some interesting labels in Valencia: Gabinete Fonográfico Hijos de Blas Cuesta, Gabinete Fonográfico Pallás, Hércules Hermanos, Gabinete Fonográfico de Puerto y Novella, A. Molina…
    We are aware of the existence of the following producers in the Basque Country: Centro Fonográfico Universal Enrique García, Casa Erviti, Viuda de Ablanedo e Hijo…
    In Zaragoza these two laboratorios produced cylinders: Gabinete Fonográfico La Oriental, Lacaze Óptico…
    Likewise, there were two labels in Asturias: Societé Edison de Eladio Carreño and the Gabinete de Emilio Zurita.
    As far as we know, there was one cylinder seller in Salamanca: Prudencio Santos Benito.
    In Granada there was a very interesting store: Casares.

    Outside Spain, the main phonograph makers were: Edison, Pathé, Columbia, Lioret, Lambert, Albany, Edison Bell, Sterling, Clarion, Maison de la Bonne Presse, Efraín Band, Phrynis, etc.

    In this cylinder photo gallery you will find a few nice phonograph cylinders that were recorded in Spain, with their respective boxes. Please note that these photos are just for informative purposes only, as there could be some people who haven´t seen any cylinder before. Therefore, they are not available for sale.

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    Does carlosmb buy or sell phonograph cylinders?
    Yes, if you inherited a collection or if you own just a few cylinders and you are considering to sell them, please contact us to receive an excellent price offer.

     


 





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Aspectos Legales  /  Legal Aspects

 
Carlos Martín Ballester, propietario de carlosmb,
es socio de AEDOM
(Asociación Española de Documentación Musical)



Carlos Martín Ballester, owner of carlosmb,
is member of the AEDOM
(Asociación Española de Documentación Musical)
 
Carlos Martín Ballester, propietario de carlosmb,
es Socio Mantenedor de la ARSC
(Association for Recorded Sound Collections)



Carlos Martín Ballester, owner of carlosmb,
is a Sustaining Member of the ARSC
(Association for Recorded Sound Collections)