Category Archives: Collecting

A Matter of Time

Cover illustration by Fabien Loris
‘How Many Times?’ by Irving Berlin (Francis-Day, Paris, 1926), illustrated by Fabien Loris.

After all the stories, we take a few moments to wish you all the best for the New Year. Serve yourself and select which time you’d like to spend in 2018.

A Good Time‘ by J. Aerts. Sheet music published by Louis Aerts, Paris, 1922. Unknown illustrator.
Summertime‘ by Harry Von Tilzer & Jack Mahoney (Von Tilzer, New York, 1908). Illustrated by Gene Buck.
Tulip Time‘ by Dave Stamper & Gene Buck, Editions Maillochon, Paris, 1919. Left illustrated by M. Labbé, right illustrated by H. Pidot.
Mister ragtime‘ by Maurice Yvain, Editions Francis Salabert (Paris, 1920) illustrated by Atelier Salabert. Right: ‘Gentleman Ragtime‘ by Adalbert Ernst Geyer, published by Musikverlag A.P. (Leipzig, s.d.), unknown illustrator.
Moonlight Saving Time‘ by Irving Kahal & Harry Richman (Francis, Day & Hunter, London, s.d.).  Unknown illustrator.
Moontime‘ by Walter R. Collins (Editions Francis Salabert, Paris, 1919). Cover by Roger de Valerio.
Nesting Time‘ by Mort Dixon & James V. Monaco (Publications Francis-Day, Paris, 1927). Cover illustrated by Fabien Loris.
LEFT: ‘Flirting Time‘ by Charles Ewart (Editions Francis Salabert, Paris, 1927), illustrated by de Valerio  —  RIGHT: ‘Ev’ry Time’ by Gordon Jenkins (ABC Music Corporation, New York, 1944), unknown illustrator.
Modern Times‘ by E. Bilbao, published by Manuel Villar (Valencia, 1916). Cover illustration by Arturo Ballester.
Killing Time‘ by Lionel Renieu, published by Edmond Possoz (Brussels, s.d.) illustrated by V. Valéry.
LEFT: ‘Piccaninnies Bed-Time Dance‘ by Theo Bonheur (W. Paxton, London, s.d.) , unknown illustrator — RIGHT: ‘Many’s the Time‘ by Fred Fisher (Harms Incorporated, New York, s.d.), illustrated by Gene Buck.
LEFT: ‘She’s Dixie all the Time‘ by Harry Tierney & Alfred Bryan (Jerome H. Remick, Detroit, 1916), signed N.E. — RIGHT: ‘May Time  Charming Fox Trot Song’ by Vincent Rose & B. G. De Sylva (Publications Francis-Day, Paris, 1924), illustrated by J V R.
Dancing Time‘ by Jerome Kern with French lyrics by Louis Lemarchand (Max Eschig & Cie, Paris, 1922). Illustration Robert Laroche.
LEFT: ‘In Vacation Time‘ by Harry Von Tilzer & Andrew B. Sterling (Von Tilzer, New York, 1905), ill. Jenkins — RIGHT: ‘Sometime‘ by Anatol Friedland &  A. Seymour Brown (Jerome H. Remick, Detroit, 1914). Illustration by Starmer.
Sometimes‘ by Fred Elizalde & Philip Seeley (Francis-Day, Paris, 1929). Illustration by Würth.

See you soon with a new sheet music story! Meanwhile, enliven your gray and cold winter days with Irving Berlin’s song How Many Times?

Sobre the Vagues – Sur las Wellen – Uber le Olas

Sheet music 'Sobre las Olas' by Juventino Rosas
Sobre las Olas‘ by Juventino Rosas. Published by Friedrich Hofmeister (Leipzig, s.d.)

It is not our collector’s goal, but we have many duplicates of the sheet music ‘Over the Waves’ (Sobre las Olas in Spanish, Über den Wellen in German, Sur les Vagues in French, Sopra le Onde in Italian).

Not surprisingly the waltz, Sobre las olas, has sometimes been incorrectly attributed to Johann Strauss. But is was composed by a Mexican, Juventino Rosas (1868-1894). His life has been documented and filmed. Beware though, because many lies and fantasies have been written about him.  What is true —and sad—  is that he died too young at the age of 26.

Juventino Rosas in 1894 (source: wikipedia:en)

We want to concentrate on the iconic representation of Sobre las Olas on all the above covers. Where does it come from? Why did the music publishers all over Europe apparently follow the convention to represent a young nymph, fairy or woman floating above foaming water, always with bare arms, twirling and undulating, wrapped in lots of light fabric? Send us a postcard if you know the answer, please.

At that time Art Nouveau is in full bloom, and the flowing gowns echo the characteristic whiplash curves employed by many fin-de-siècle artists.

Sopra le Onde‘ by Juventino Rosas. Published by Carisch & Jänichen (Milano, s.d.)

What strikes us, is the graphical similarity with the representation of the famous Serpentine Dance created by Loïe Fuller at the Folies Bergère, as seen on posters around 1900.

Loïe Fuller, left: by PAL (Jean de Paleologue); middle: by BAC (Ferdinand Sigismond Bach),1892; right: by Jules Chéret, 1897.

Of course, seeing Loïe Fuller in action is another thing. Here she is, metamorphosing from a bat, in an original silent film by Segundo de Chomon. He was a brilliant Spanish film pioneer who worked in Paris and is often compared to Georges Méliès, due to his frequent camera tricks and optical illusions. The film is from 1902 (and not 1905 as indicated on YouTube). Although Segundo de Chomon hand painted some copies, this one is recently stencil-coloured.

In another Segundo de Chomon film The creation of the Serpentine (1908) Mephistopheles interrupts a peaceful evening of dancing in a French salon. Showing his real face, the demon creates a woman who multiplies in numerous Serpentine dancers, all twisting their robes until they finally explode into flames. Wow!

And here is an excerpt from La Danseuse a 2017 biopic of Loïe Fuller, played and danced by none other than I’ll Kill Her Soko. Perhaps not really a must-see, but it gives a good impression of the colour effects that were originally used and designed by Fuller herself.

Now back to our Sobre las Olas with an Uzbek interpretation. It surely beats kittens on Facebook.

Table of six ‘Sobre las Olas’ sheet music above: (clockwise starting top left) (1) published by Ernst & Paul Fischer (Berlin, s.d.); (2)published by Alfred Michow (Berlin, s.d.); (3) published by Adolf Kunz (Berlin, s.d.); (4) published by Otto June, Leipzig, s.d., illustration signed G.B; (5) published by Anton J. Benjamin (Hamburg, s.d.); (6) unknown publication.

Amusing Duplicates

'Das ist der Bimini...' sheet music cover by Dely
Das ist der Bimini…‘ by Stephan Weiss and Beda. Cover illustrated by Vertès for publisher Wiener Bohème Verlag (Wien, 1925).

Amusing double items, over the years we have grown to cherish these lucky finds. All of the graceful flavours of print and design become apparent: subtle similitudes, minor mistakes, lost details, delicate varieties in shade, colour or contrasts. However sometimes a duplicate is nothing but a gross replication. Take for instance the small Czech songbook, that would like to be an exact copy of the over-the-top incorrect but oh so cute Vertès illustration. A mediocre but bleak reproduction if you ask me.

Das ist der Bimini, song book published in
Das ist der Bimini, Accord-Sammlung für Gesang’, published by Accord in Prague (1925?).

Here is another example of how an ingenious and expressive design of Marcel Vertès is muddled, wasted and ruined. It is obvious that in the French version of the Passion waltz the red and green colour plates have ineptly been aligned…

Passion‘ a boston waltz by Otto Weber (1920). The cover illustrated by Marcel Vertès was published by Drei Masken Verlag in Vienna (on the left) and Smyth in Paris (right).

Have a look at a similar debacle, this one from the workshop of Hawkes in London. What happened, was the red ink too thick or too thin? Shouldn’t the gold have been printed  first? It may be that the red ‘Gold and Silver’ waltz was an ordinary printing press reject. Which we now ironically give the status of ‘collection item’. Anyway what a shame for the beautiful drawing by W. George.

On the left ‘L’Or et l’Argent‘ from Franz Lehar, published by Edouard Salabert (Paris, 1903). Right: ‘Gold and Silver‘, the washout from Hawkes & Son, London, s.d. Illustration by W. George.

Some ‘duplicate’ sheet music are just different. Having both versions in the collection is worthwhile, and brings on a few moments of delight. As does the gliding sound of the great-grandmother of all waltzes ‘Sobre las Olas’ (Uber den Wellen, Sur les vagues, Over the Waves) composed by Mexican Juventino Rosas in 1888.

Sobre las Ollas‘ by Juventino Rosas. Published by Otto June (Leipzig, s.d.). Illustration signed G.B.
Sobre las Ollas‘, waltz composed by by Juventino Rosas. Publisher: Schott Frères (Bruxelles, s.d.). Unknown illustrator.

Time now for a musical intermezzo: float and twirl over the ocean  waves!

All the duplicates above show essentially the same drawing. It is more fun when the same theme is drawn differently, as with this chucklesome waiter.

Im Hotel zur Grünen Wiese‘ by Edvard Brink, illustrated by Otto Dely and published by Wiener Bohème Verlag (Wien, 1922).
A l’Hôtel de la Prairie Verte (Théodor)’ by Edvard Brink, illustrated by Robert Laroche (published by Smyth, Paris, 1922).

A last surprising duplicate which brings joy is The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

The Teddy Bears Picnic‘ by John W. Bratton. Illustrator unknown. Published by Feldman & Co (London, s.d.).

The UK branch of American publisher Witmark resolutely chose  for an extra row of bears.

The Teddy Bears Picnic‘ by John W. Bratton (Witmark & Sons, London, 1907). Unknown illustrator.

German publisher Roehr on the other hand preferred chubby Teddies for its Baby-Bären Parade.

Baby-Bären Parade – The Teddy Bears Picnic‘ by John W. Bratton. Cover of the sheet music published by C. M. Roehr (Berlin, 1907).

Strangely The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, copyrighted in 1907 by American composer John Bratton, was for many years just an instrumental number. Twenty-five years later,  in 1932, Irishmen Jimmy Kennedy wrote the lyrics that beautifully accompany the two-step rhythm:

If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You’d better go in disguise!
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain,
Because today’s the day the
Teddy Bears have their picnic.


Now comes the special moment: a scene from the Eighty’s serial drama The Singing Detective, wherein Michael Gambon plays crooner, detective, and psoriatic patient. Thank you Dennis Potter.

Previous posts on duplicate sheet music covers: