Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records


Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on 78rpm records—those fragile, 10-inch shellac discs. While vinyl records have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, good 78s are exponentially harder to come by and play. A recent eBay auction for the only known copy of a particular record topped out at $37,100. Do Not Sell at Any Price explores the rarified world of the 78rpm record—from the format’s heyday to its near extinction—and how collectors and archivists are working frantically to preserve the music before it’s lost forever.

Through fascinating historical research and beguiling visits with the most prominent 78 preservers, Amanda Petrusich offers both a singular glimpse of the world of 78 collecting and the lost backwoods blues artists whose 78s from the 1920s and 1930s have yet to be found or heard by modern ears. We follow the author’s descent into the oddball fraternity of collectors—including adventures with Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, Pete Whelan, and more—who create and follow their own rules, vocabulary, and economics and explore the elemental genres of blues, folk, jazz, and gospel that gave seed to the rock, pop, country, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, Do Not Sell at Any Price is an untold, intriguing story of preservation, loss, obsession, art, and the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music.


This book was written in 2014 but I just came across it. Being a record collector I thought it would be interesting to read about the people who collect 78’s. Yes, I have them and just started collecting them just over the last few years. Mainly first because relatives were giving them to me, but also because of the history behind them. They are fragile and I do need to keep up with the condition, but they are hard to find. The ones that are being discussed in this book are extremely rare and I have also found that a lot of blues records are like that. The people that the author interviews are fantastic personalities, and they are not only interested in collecting but also the history of recorded music before LP’s, Cd's, and now MP's. I also found the chapter of her going scuba diving in Wisconsin looking for lost records hoping to find some of the 1940’s a very fun story. It went perfectly with the rest of the book and with how you can get caught up in wanting to find the one record. Overall for me, this was a very good book and full of fun and interesting people. I wish more people knew the history of music and had the passion of the author and the people she wrote about. To all still searching good luck. I gave this book 5 stars. Follow us at

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