|Dealers and Collectors Questions Dealers Will Ask|
I have attempted to collect as much information about Used Rolls as I could. And while not complete, this page should answer many of the questions that I get asked repeatedly. Since I don't buy or sell used rolls, I'm not the best person to ask about value or rarity. I have located and provided 'mailto' links to the individuals who wrote the letters and articles below.
Questions Dealers Will Ask
These are the Basic Questions that Dealers, Collectors and Auctioneers need to have answered BEFORE they can adequately help you determine the value of your rolls. This excellent list was compiled by Paul A. Johnson.
In working with folks over the past years, I've come up with some questions that can help roll sellers understand the value and condition of the rolls they want to sell. Often times sellers feel they need to make a list of all the rolls they have. While this is nice, it's not really necessary and can be quite time consuming (I know because I'm doing this all the time for my roll auction business). What can be more helpful is to have the following questions answered before you contact a potential buyer:
1. How many rolls do you want to sell?
One of the problems with dealing with rolls is that they tend to hide their defects. Here's how you can check for edge condition. As the tab falls over the top of the roll, the flange on the left will usually twist off. Once you've removed it, check the left edge of the paper. Does the edge look clean and crisp or is it ragged and appear torn throughout or in places? Now reverse wind the roll, kind of like you're opening a jar, tilt the right edge up and let the paper fall to the left side (with the left flange still removed). Then check the condition of the right edge. If it looks okay after this inspection the roll is probably okay.
Try to have a sense of what you want for the rolls before contacting a buyer. Many times when I ask a seller what they want for their collection, they will tell me they have no idea. Then when I make an offer and they say "that's not really what I had in mind," it shows they had ideas to their value all along.
Also, beware of relying on antique store prices. Usually antique stores deal with rolls infrequently so the price they put on them can vary widely. Just because an antique store has a certain price on a roll, doesn't mean that that's what they're selling for (they may have been warming that shelf for an awfully long time).
DEALERS & COLLECTORS
Company Name: Ampico Music Rolls
Owner: Ray Smith
Explanation of rolls offered: Used Ampico Music Rolls
Web Address: http://www.ampicorolls.com
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ray@NJSurfer.net
Mailing Address: AmpicoRolls c/o Ray Smith
Street: 630 Broad St
City, State: Shrewsbury, New Jersey
Zip Code: 07702
Phone Number: 732-747-7900
FAX Number: 732-747-8885
Catalog Available: NO (Listings available from website)
Credit Cards Taken: YES
Minimum Purchase Requirement: NO
Player Piano Rolls by American Piano Company
Subject: Materials for Repairing Music Rolls
I'm interested in the rolls you mentioned in the 7-23 MMD, especially if they're Duo-Art. I can tell you if they're of any special value if you'll email me with some details, and I do collect rolls so I might be interested in buying. Value typically depends on rarity, roll type, condition, and quantities for sale at once. I live between Chicago and Milwaukee in Grayslake, IL. Drop me a line!
Bob has also written an article on Roll History that is very informative.
We run a roll punching machine which can make each roll which is known in the moment.
When you put together your web page for roll exchange, include us.
We do buy a few select 88 note and Duo-Art rolls, and occasionally
Right now our primary buying interest is Telelectric (65 note) and Telektra (88
For those interested in Nickelodeon rolls, contact Don Rand, Telephone 207-354-8033 in Thomaston, Maine.
Miner Mfg. Co., Inc. has one of the world's largest, if not the largest, inventory of 'A' and 'G' rolls and have been in business 13 years. Their extensive inventory is maintained to support their customers who purchase the Tangley Calliaphone calliope. Please contact:Dave Miner, President
Miner Mfg. Co., Inc.
2208 220th St.
Donnellson, IA 52625
Ph. 319-837-6484, Fax 319-837-6080
www.minermfgco.com email: email@example.com
Here's some new information about Roll Auctions:
Vendor: Jan Myers|
Rag Daddy's Music
6319 Willow Hill Street
San Antonio, TX, 78247-1116
phone (303) 885-5570
We have been doing roll auctions under the same name, continuously, longer than anyone else who is still in business!
We put out lists of 300 or more rolls, several times a year, allowing people to bid on just the rolls they want. People can get on our list by calling, mailing, or emailing their information. We can send printed copies in the mail, or by email.
To download the current listing (11/11/23), go to: Rag Daddy's Roll Auction #95 -click here.
To download the previous listing, go to: Rag Daddy's Roll Auction #94 -click here.
NOTE: Player-Care is in no way involved with this company. So, do not write to or call us for information.
[ See "Roll Mail Auctions" at http://www.mmdigest.com/Links
[ The folks who sell the old rolls must buy them somewhere! -- Robbie
...Back to Top|
ROLLS RIP WHEN REWINDING
Jackie in Indiana writes:
How do you care for the storage of music rolls?
What about dampness? bugs?
In a nutshell, keep them in a moderate environment where they aren't exposed to sunlight or changes in temperature and humidity. The best place in the average home is a closet in the central part of the house -away from outside walls and doors.
That said, any excess in heat, humidity, cold, etc., is bad for paper. And, if you have bugs, call an exterminator!
John A Tuttle
...Back to Top|
REPAIR THE ROLL
Repairing Wrinkled Rolls
By John Phillips
"Repairing Wrinkled Rolls" -- what a fine example of alliteration that is, Jim Canavan; it rolls off the tongue beautifully! And I'm pleased that someone has brought the problem up.
It's really disappointing to acquire a desirable roll in apparently excellent condition but which plays a few unwanted notes in the treble or bass. This usually happens right at the end of the roll, just as you are letting out the breath that you've been holding all through the roll's first playing. Sometimes the extra notes (ciphers?) occur right at the start of the roll. Then you are disappointed immediately.
I think that the problem occurs because the roll paper has been stretched on the side where the ciphers are. My guess is that the damage is caused by the roll not being wound up properly, and left that way for many years. In my limited experience, ironing a roll improves creases and wrinkles considerably, but won't help fix problems due to stretched paper.
I spent a lot of time on one classical roll with some ciphers at the start that I badly wanted to cure. I ironed the roll, hung a heavy weight on the tag for some days to try to stretch the rest of the paper, and tried cutting a tiny wedge-shaped piece of paper out of the middle of the stretched section of the roll before drawing the cut edges together again with repair tape. (Rather like taking in a seam in a garment, I suppose.)
None of this helped. In desperation I cut the stretched sections out and replaced them with paper salvaged from another roll, but by now the section of music had been so abused that the ciphers _still_ sounded.
So far, it's all bad news, but I don't think the situation is hopeless. I've been mulling 'round the following scenario in my mind for a long time; maybe Jim's note will be the necessary spur to get it started. I would try this:
1) Let the section of roll with stretched edges hang vertically, and clamp it firmly at the top.
2) Clamp a heavy weight to the roll at the bottom of the stretched section. I envisage two pieces of wood with felt glued to them that clamp right across the width of the roll. This should produce a uniform tension in the roll paper everywhere except where the roll is stretched. The tension there should be close to zero.
3) Increase the humidity until the roll paper begins to relax and stretch. It should stretch permanently where the tension is high but not where there is no tension. You might end up with a slightly longer roll but one with no ciphers in it.
No doubt everybody can see boundless possibilities for disasters here, like ripping the roll apart. Obviously the tension would have to be chosen carefully, probably after a few accidents. The hanging weight would need to have supports a few millimeters below it to stop the paper stretching too far.
Several years ago I exchanged letters with a paper conservator and I got the impression from her that one could actually wet the roll paper without permanent damage; I think she suggested spraying it with an atomiser. This sounded so alarming that I wasn't game to try it. But I'll get back to her.
I must make it absolutely clear that I'm not suggesting that anybody else tries the above idea before I do; it is very much untried! But if anybody has got any comments or thinks it's just crazy I'd be glad to hear from them.
...Back to Top
Paper buckles, not when moistened, but when the moistened area has dried again. Why? It's as though moistening the paper releases internal forces, allowing the surface area to grow. Then it bulges slightly, and causes ciphers at the tracker bar.
I've used a steam-iron cautiously to "tame the music", and it seemed to help, perhaps because the water vapor permeates the region equally, bad and good areas alike. I've not ironed the dampened paper with a dry iron, but this seems logical to try, too. A surfactant, such as Kodak "Photo Flo", might aid even-penetration of the moisture.
John Phillips proposes applying tension to the hanging web of paper, to force it to become flat again. That seems a good idea; more than 50 pounds tension should be possible without rupture if the edges are good. Try introducing the moisture with the steam iron, too. Don't worry about overall-stretch in the roll.
. Here is a link to a listing of companies and individuals who sell new, used, and re-cut rolls. Those who sell used rolls have to get them someplace. So, you might want to contact those concerns before using eBay or CraigsList to sell your rolls. While they might not offer you as much as you could possibly make, it would certainly save you a lot of time. Here's the link.
Recently Player-Care started listing various Player Piano Roll Makers (click here), and some of them will occasionally express a desire to find a particular old roll. It probably wouldn't hurt to write to some of them and send them a list of all your old rolls. They just might be interested..... JT---------------------------------------------------------------
Old piano rolls nowadays typically sell at 3 to 5 dollars at mail auctions. Check also at eBay: http://pages.ebay.com/index.html Search for "piano rolls". The best marketplace is eBay. Look for "music rolls". Sell them in sets of no greater than five (5) rolls. Provide a picture that shows the first foot or so of the rolls, so people can see their condition. Have an opening bid of $0.99. Ship them via USPS MEDIA MAIL (within the US only.
You can find a list of firms who deal in old music rolls at http://www.mmdigest.com/Links
Also Bennett Leedy, dba "Piano Roll Center":
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Hutchinson)
Subject: Piano Roll Identification & Label Service
[ Ref. 051011 MMDigest, Universal Medley Roll 303477
MMDers, I have an answer for Earl Hennagir. The Universal Themodist medley roll no. 303477 is
"Greenwich Village Follies, Selection"
This is the complete listing in a copy of the Universal Music-Rolls Catalog in my collection. I was not so lucky with John Phillips' request for the identity of the Perfection Roll.
I possess an extensive collection of research materials concerning piano rolls consisting of the Billings Rollographies, the "Complete Ampico Catalog" by Obenchain and photocopies of virtually every piano roll catalog from the early 1900's to the present. Secondly, I have the piano roll box label making program by John Miller.
I would like to offer a service to MMD members. If you have an unknown roll for example with the leader and box label missing, if you can supply the number which is often stenciled at the end of the roll or occasionally right in the beginning and pick out the title from the words we can usually figure out what company made it and produce a correct label for your box and or for the leader. Of course the more information supplied the more likely we will be to come up with a correct label. Ideally if you can send box ends or leader labels we can produce new totally authentic labels.
The offer: You supply the most information you are able, the height and width you wish your label to be and for $2.50 we will attempt to identify your roll and produce three (3) authentic labels, one for each end of the box and one for the leader. We will mail these back to you in a first class envelope. If you want more than one set of labels reduce the price to $2.00 for each set. I can accept PayPal at email@example.com or you may mail me the funds and the info to Tom Hutchinson, 15361 Hopper Rd, Sturgeon MO, 65284.
Subject: Collectors Seek Favorite Old Piano Rolls
Hi MMD, It has been pointed out that the more bedraggled an old roll looks, it is probably a good indication that it was played a lot. I have been restoring piano rolls and selling them on eBay for several years. I've usually stayed with the more recent rolls because I felt there would be more interest in them and they took less effort and time to restore. However I've recently noted there have been a significant number of sales to collector type individuals and most of these have been quite old rolls.
I have a couple boxes containing over 500+ rolls of this type, i.e., no boxes, torn leaders, etc. I've started restoring these and putting them on eBay at the rate of about 10 or 12 per day. There are some great titles showing up. Since I don't collect 88-note rolls these are all going on eBay. If you want to see what I've been restoring look for user ID 9653819. I usually have from 40 to 60 listings on eBay most of the time.
Thanks for looking,
...Back to Top|
Mechanical Music Digest (visit them)
They are the Source for Information about Mechanical Musical Devices
And maintain an Extensive Archive of Related Information
And may not be used commercially without the Express permission of
the Editor, Jody Kravitz or Associate Editor, Robbie Rhodes.
...Back to Top
This page was last revised on November 11, 2023 by John A. Tuttle.
That way I'll notice it as soon as I open my E-mail program.
Since "Player-Care" is an internet business, I prefer that we correspond via E-Mail (click here to fill out the 'Request Form'). However, if I'm not in the middle of some other activity, you can reach me at 732-840-8787. But please understand that during the hours from 8AM-5PM EST (Mon-Sat), I'm generally quite busy. So, I probably won't answer the phone. If you get the answering machine, please leave a detailed message stating the reason for your call. Also, repeat your name and phone number clearly and distinctly. By necessity, I prioritize everything in my life. And, if you call and just leave your name and number, and ask me to call you back, it might be a day or two before I return your call. Why? Because I don't know why you want me to call and I might not be prepared to assist you in an effective and efficient manner. If you leave me an E-Mail address (which I prefer), spell it out phonetically. The more you do to help me, the more I can help you in return. Don't rush. You have four minutes to record your message.
407 19th Ave, Brick, NJ, 08724
Phone Number 732-840-8787
(Voicemail Only, No Texts)