I was tempted to buy a piece of music history.
A listing appeared on Ebay for Just Gone/Canal Street Blues, Gennett # 5133, recorded in Richmond, Indiana, in April 1923 by King Oliver and His Creole Jazz band.
This was the first of several 78 rpm disks recorded by a hot jazz band with a second cornet player named Louis Armstrong. If you appreciate traditional jazz, a true collector's item.
Of course I own versions of that recording on LP and CD, but here was a chance to acquire the original—a fragile shellac disk pressed in a factory a few blocks from where the music was recorded.
I resisted the temptation. Bidding for the disk, even with badly worn labels, climbed to $112. Out of my budget.
Besides, I already have some pieces of publishing history.
A friend I met at a writers conference founded a group that collects the books of adventure writer Clive Cussler. I'd read all of Clive's books, so I joined the group.
Soon I found myself hunting not simply for first editions, but for book club editions, large print editions, UK editions, and especially advance reading copies.
Many remain out of my price range, as I was reminded this week by another Ebay posting. Someone listed for only $995 an autographed ex-library copy, with original dust jacket, of the 1975 novel Iceberg, Cussler's first hardcover. Some 5,000 copies were printed, but relatively few sold, mostly to libraries.
“Why pay $5,000 for a pristine signed copy?” the seller asked. A valid question.
Thanks to friends in the collectors group, I own a battered ex-library copy of Iceberg, rebound and without dust jacket, but still one of those 5,000. It cost me less than $10. And now it's signed.
As is my copy of Cussler's The Mediterranean Caper, a mass paperback from 1973 by the then-unknown author. I'm happy to have those pieces of writing history.
What's special on your shelf?