Irish melody 78 rpm records

Irish melody 78 rpm records

So I recently inherited a lovely old Brooks Automatic Repeating Phonograph machine from my parents. It was around the house as long as I’ve been alive, to my knowledge. I put about 10 hours of work into cleaning it up, and getting it working again. As far as I remember, the turntable always worked, but the repeating function (where it detects the end of the record, lifts the arm, and places it back down at the beginning - assuming you have it set to repeat at least once) never worked. So I got that working. What a fantastic machine! It really makes you realize how ingenious people could design mechanical contraptions long before electricity ruled objects like that!

But the records that my folks had are mostly big band jazz or opera. So that got me thinking about the old Irish recordings. I did find a lot of about 80 Irish 78s on eBay and bought them, but they’re mostly songs - with just a few melody discs. I know that there were a plethora of Irish recordings of Coleman, Killoran, Morrison, Tom Ennis, etc., but looking around for them, I am not finding a lot. I did find some Coleman 78s that were selling at a minimum of about $100 each, which is pretty outrageous.

So a couple of questions. Why are they so expensive? Is it simply a supply and demand thing, where, in the big scheme of 78s produced, only a tiny percentage were Irish music? Or is it that they’re in demand more than other 78s of their age? (Or some combination of both).

And does anyone have any good sources for interesting Irish 78s that are for sale without needing to cash in my retirement savings? ;-)

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

A little google does occasionally find some results like:

http://www.oldtimerecords.com/index.php

(this may actually be from vinyl to cd but im not 100% sure, reading their site again)

http://www.offtherecord.ie/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=180_419_163&page=1&sort=4a

I am not old enough to know if any Vinyl is the same as 78s. I do know that lately Vinyl is getting more popular again and brought back so it wouldn’t suprise me if there is some "modern" trad recorded on vinyl as well.

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

Thanks Dutchie, regular LP Vinyl is more modern than the 78s, which become a thing back in the late 1800’s, and were the norm up until electric turntables appeared in the late 1920s, soon to be followed by advanced recording techniques and things like stereo vinyl records. So these earlier records are generally made from shellac or acetate, and were played on mechanical beasts that don’t use electricity at all.

Thomas Edison invented the first of these machines (using a cylinder instead of a disk) and Alexander Graham Bell modified the idea to use wax cylinders, if I remember correctly. Eventually the standard became to use disks instead of cylinders. There were several manufacturers, including Gramophone (where we get "the Grammys" from), Victrola (which was the genesis of RCA Victor records), and ultimately several other makers like the Brooks machine I have. Electric turntables didn’t appear until the late 1920s.

And it was even a bit later that they started using electronic amplification. The old mechanical machines take the vibrations from the needle (an actual steel needle that gets changed basically every time you play a record) and transmits them out through a horn to focus and amplify the sound.

But I appreciate the help!

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

You may be interested in a facebook group called ‘Irish Traditional Music at 78rpms’. A number of collectors post there.

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

Thanks for the info Reverend. Learnt something new today :)

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

Well you should (obviously) be checking out your local record and thrift stores as you never know what you might find! I have found some pretty good trad LPs at used records stores, things like 40 Years of Irish Piping, Paddy in the Smoke, Old Hag You’ve Killed Me (for $2.10 can you believe!?) to name a few and even some great ones that never got released on other formats like Sean Keane by Sean Keane (IMO one of the best solo fiddle albums I’ve ever heard) and Kornog by Kornog.

Alas, I have not stumbled onto any 78s though, still worth a look especially if you are set up for LPs and 45s, so if you find a source I would love to hear about it as well cause my turntable has a 78 setting. (I’d still need to get a 78 cartridge but that should be easy!)

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Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

Thanks for the Facebook suggestion, Brian! And it’s true, I haven’t started diving in to local record stores or antique stores, Avery. Good idea!

Re: Irish melody 78 rpm records

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