Nov 25, 2013

By Scott Walker

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The earliest-known recording by a black quartet was sold at auction on the weekend for a relatively modest price.

My Mama’s Black Baby Boy was recorded by the Unique Quartet from New York in 1893.

It was one of only two copies in existence. The other is in the Library of Congress. And one appraiser suggested the cylinder recording might go for up to $25,000. But, in the end, it fetched only $1,100.

It might have to do with the fragility of the cylinder. It was in such poor shape that the auctioneers were afraid to play it for the bidders.

You can listen to the Library of Congress recording here.

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