British Columbia Values

this page first published by John Wright, 3 Dec 1997
last update 14 Mar

Note: values quoted are typical prices paid at a record fair stall where the stall-holder knows the demand for music and records.

A commonly found record label in a 78rpm collection, Columbia sold millions of records. Many favourite bands or artistes made their best records on Columbia.
The Columbia label has been around for over 95 years and on it you can find just about any kind of music. In Britain you'll find mostly 10" records. From the 1900's to 1930 popular music was found on the black/dark blue label series numbered 1000 to over 5700, changing to the CB- and DB- series, and a magenta FB series also started in 1935. The vast majority of these discs are not valuable, but a lot of the recorded music is collectable and it turns out there are a few very rare discs.

Regarding types of popular music, among collectors jazzy tunes are more popular than waltzes or strings-only dance music. Similarly with singers, the popular film and show tunes are sought after more than the ballads. Some dance bands on Columbia are favourites with many collectors, particularly the early Savoy Orpheans and Savoy Havana Band, and many American 20's dance bands like Ted Lewis, Harry Reser, California Ramblers, Paul Whiteman. Jazz is not often found on early Columbia but many hot dance band records are easy to find, including many issued under pseudonyms like Denza Dance band, Hannan Dance Band.

Most Columbias are worth 1 or less, certain bands and singers may be sought after.

For example:

(Slide the frame left in order to see the table better)

Cat. No.Band or
3151Savoy Havana Band19220.50uninteresting titles
3155Ted Lewis Band19220.50uninteresting titles
3432Savoy Orpheans19245.00a hot dance title, quite scarce
3784Ted Lewis Band19252.00hot dance, but common
4206Denza Dance Band19262.00actually two American 20's bands
4610Piccadilly Revels Band19275.00hot dance from a band popular with collectors
4896Debroy Somers Band19280.50dull
5457Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys19293.00this singing group included Bing Crosby
5544Paul Whiteman Orch19293.00Bing also on these titles
CB-248Jack Payne BBC Orch19312.00popular with collectors
CB-435Masqueraders193220.00a sought-after rarity featuring Al Bowlly vocals
FB-1005Henry Hall BBC Orch19350.50popular, more common

These records are only examples of what kind of values are put on some of Columbia's popular vocal and dance and records. There will be some records by the same artistes worth more or less, depends on the quality of the music and on how many copies of the records were sold.

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