Biddeford, Maine • A 120-year-old wax-covered cylinder containing the earliest known recording of a black vocal group in the U.S. was sold at auction Saturday.
Discovered in a private collection in Portland, the 1893 recording of "Mama's Black Baby Boy" by the New York-based Unique Quartet was one of only two copies known to exist and sold for $1,100. The other resides in the Library of Congress.
A second Unique Quartet song, "Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?" from 1896, sold at the same auction for $1,900. Both pre-date vinyl records.
The recordings were so rare that auctioneers at Saco River Auction Co. had no idea how much they might fetch. An appraiser had suggested they were worth $25,000 or more each before the auction.