1893 recording of black vocal group auctioned off

by The Associated Press
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(Earliest known recording of a black vocal group from 1893, AP Photo)

(Earliest known recording of a black vocal group from 1893, AP Photo)

BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) — A 120-year-old wax-covered cylinder containing the earliest known recording of a black vocal group in the U.S. has been sold at an auction in Maine.

The recording discovered in a private collection in Portland is one of only two copies known to exist and sold for $1,100 on Saturday. The other is in the Library of Congress.

The 1893 recording of “Mama’s Black Baby Boy” by the Unique Quartet was made before vinyl records. Instead, the music is etched on a wax-covered cylinder using technology invented by Thomas Edison.

A second Unique Quartet song, “Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?” sold for $1,900 at the auction. It was recorded in 1896.

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