Christmas Music Albums, Sheet Music Offer Great Holiday Collectibles

By Barbara Sutton-Smith

Bah Humbug! That was Ebenezer Scrooge’s iconic attitude to Christmas, and Christmas carols were definitely not music to his ears. But if Scrooge would have known what kinds of profits were to be found in holiday music, he’d be sound asleep on Christmas Eve with visions of dollar signs dancing in his head. Christmas music is a huge moneymaker and yet another opportunity for collectors looking for something new to collect.

Bing Crosby, one of the iconic crooners who version of “White Christmas” is considered to be the “only” version, put out this album, “Merry Christmas.”

Bing Crosby, one of the iconic crooners who version of “White Christmas” is considered to be the “only” version, put out this album, “Merry Christmas.”

Music sales soar prior to the Christmas season, as parents try to keep up with their teenager’s tastes. While stores stock CDs now, and you can get digital recordings from the Internet, Christmas record albums, cassettes, and yes, even eight-track tapes being responsible for much of the surge over the last 60-plus years. Songs of Christmas have proven popular material for virtually every major singer and performing group.

The late 1940s to late 1960s is considered the Golden Age of the Christmas Album. Numerous large manufacturing companies, and in particular automobile companies, gave away Christmas albums as premiums. The popular top singers of the time such as Elvis, Perry Como, Dinah Shore, Gene Autry and Bing Crosby all got into the act.

Although many singers were recorded singing the same song, each in their own inimitable way, it is impossible to recall some songs without identifying it with a particular singer: Bing Crosby with “White Christmas,” Spike Jones and his City Slickers for “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Gene Autry for his rendering of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and Burl Ives “Frosty the Snowman” and “Holly Jolly Christmas.” Of course, there are others. People still love to hear these secular songs during the Christmas holidays. They are part of the Christmas festivities and a nostalgic link to the past.

The albums of that Golden Era are highly collectible, and very affordable due to the large quantity available. When buying as a collector it is worth noting that greater value rests more with the album cover than the record. The key is to buy as near mint condition as you can find. When you come to sell in the far distant future you could find yourself with a very Merry Christmas.

Irving Berlin’s Always sheet music

Irving Berlin’s “Always” sheet music from the 1944 movie “Christmas Holiday” and autographed by actress Deanna Durbin.

Autographed sheet music for Stan Freberg’s "Nuttin For Christmas," published in 1955.

Autographed sheet music for Stan Freberg’s “Nuttin For Christmas,” published in 1955.

Autographed sheet music for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans "A Christmas Prayer," published in 1967.

Autographed sheet music for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans “A Christmas Prayer,” published in 1967.

Most of what has been written so far also applies to Christmas sheet music. Collectors in this field fall into several different categories; those who buy based on title alone; covers showing a performer’s image; or cover art that features images of toys, Christmas trees, especially those decorated with identifiable ornaments; and sleighs and sleds. This latter category falls into a collector’s cross over topic.

Sheet music for traditional carols is usually found in carol books or plain text sheets and the number of collectors for this type is extremely small.

Nevertheless, carols go with a gaily decorated Christmas tree with gifts below, Yule logs glowing in the fireplace, a dining table set with festive food, and outside lightly falling snow and carolers singing as they trudge from house to house or stand below a lamp light—a tradition that goes back to the 19th century.

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