Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1939)

For this week's bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, I decided to post this somewhat scarce set of three twelve-inch 78s...the Victor album (M-591) of Scenes From Abe Lincoln in Illinois.

The play ran for 472 performances from 1938-9 (, and featured Raymond Massey in the title role.

Abe also won the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Robert E. Sherwood.

Massey was in the 1940 film version of the play, and was also in several radio and television versions as well.

Here's the track listing:

NYC, 14 July 1939: Raymond Massey with supporting cast (unlisted)

1. Lincoln's Proposal to Anne Rutledge

2. Lincoln's Law Office

3. Lincoln's Prayer

4. Lincoln's Reply To Stephen A. Douglas, part 1

5. Lincoln's Reply To Stephen A. Douglas, part 2

6. Lincoln's Farewell To Springfield

One thing about this album that does perplex me a bit...the cover illustration is approximately the size of a ten-inch record, hastily pasted onto a twelve-inch album. Perhaps this album was originally planned to be a ten-incher...and was expanded to the larger format only after the cover slicks were made? Or maybe the printing orders were misread?

Then again, in 1939, most twelve-inch albums had very plain covers...Victor's classical sets had front covers that consisted of colored heavy cardboard, often with a wavy texture (with a large flat lozenge that contained the album's title printed in gold). Columbia's sets were similarly plain-Jane at the time...the fancier illustrated covers of Victor and Columbia (by Decker, Steinweiss and friends) came into general use a year or two later.

I italicized most because an earlier non-clssical Victor twelve-inch album had a special printed cover, and it took the entire 12-inch space (not just a ten-inch slick pasted in)...I'm thinking of their A Symposium of Swing album, which featured (among others) the original issues of Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing, Sing (aka A Jail And A Half, according to some wag) and the famous I Can't Get Started by Bunny Berigan. (I can't call the Victor version of Started original...Bunny recorded it once before under his own name for Vocalion. And he's on a version on Decca too, but that's really a Red McKenzie record. Someday I'll get around to posting those rather obscure versions too.).

More music coming up in a few days...


Shadow said...

My sister and I inherited this boxed set (along with many other record albums) from my father, and in his memory and in honor of Lincoln's 200th birthday, we donated it to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I wonder if you know the value of this set. The library is prohibited by law from setting a value because they were the recipient of the donation. Please respond if you know the value of the set.

ZorchMan said...

Hi Shadow!

It's a nice set, a bit on the scarce side, but apparently it's not all that valuable (spoken word records are hard to get serious cash for unless it's a particularly rare or desirable item. This album seems to have sold moderately well.). Any copy that shows up on eBay hovers around $10 to $20.

I'm glad to see that someone has donated as copy of the album to the Presidential Library.

Thanks for writing in...and enjoy the rest of the blog!

Samantha said...

I am interested in your comment about the Edison Bell Record. Is it the record/title itself that is rare or the fact that it is an Edison Bell Record that is rare. I have just inherited a collection of my great grandfathers Edison Bell Radio records in an album and was wondering if they might be valuable or collectable at all??? Would be most interested to hear what you havve to say....Thanks, Samantha in NZ

ZorchMan said...

Hi Samantha...

The Edison Bell Winner label is somewhat scarce here in the US...that label wasn't carried here. I've had a few over the years, but don't run into them too often. And it's harder to find anything I (as a jazz collector) would be interested in on that label too.

I do see a lot of HMVs here, though. Many have little stickers indicating that they were sold here in the US by RCA.

I don't know too much about what was available in Australia or New Zealand...whether your EBWs were imported from Britain or were made closer to your home.

As far as the collectability of your pieces, again, I don't know. I'd imagine that certain performers bring premium prices (that's true of any label).

Good luck, and enjoy the records.

Samantha said...

Hi...thanks for your comments..guess I'll continue my search for more information - thanks for taking the time to respond to my query though :)