My name is Paul Manganaro and I've been buying piano rolls since 1973. I also host a site: "BuyMusic Machine.com" where I'm also looking for piano rolls.


I don't buy piano rolls for resale. I want to add rolls to my existing collection. I'll be glad to evaluate your collection to help you sell your rolls yourself. There is no charge for this service. In the process, I'll make offers on any rolls I'd like to buy for myself.





When in doubt - just send pictures!

If you're not sure if your rolls are collectible or not, just send photos. I always enjoy looking at roll labels and I'll be glad to place a value on your collection at no cost to you. It gives me the chance to make offers on rolls I'd like to own. Old rolls are found in many different color boxes with dozens of different brand names. I buy and evaluate any kind you may have.

Just take photos like the example below on the right and I'll write back ASAP.

Email photos to Paul at: Newmatics@gmail.com

Want to know what your rolls are worth? Here's what to do.

First, read through this page to find out what some of your rolls might be worth.

Next, send photos of the box labels. There's no need to sort rolls. You can even send pictures of rolls I don't buy. I'll be glad to look over any rolls you have.

Not clear enough.

This photo is blurry. I need to be able to read all the label information. If your photos turn out like this, you need to set your camera on a higher resolution OR use your cell phone camera. These days, cell phone cameras usually take great pictrues!

Great photo. Send pictures like this!

Taking clear photos like this with about 30 box labels in each picture is the best way for me to look over your collection. 


I always enjoy seeing photos of piano roll labels, so send as many as you like.


Send photos like this by email to Paul at: newmatics@gmail.com

What makes a piano roll valuable? Why isn't there a price guide?

Tens of thousands of different rolls were produced for player pianos. Most people bought the same type of popular music. Popular music on rolls still exists in great numbers, so most rolls are worth very little.  In groups, most piano rolls sell for less than a dollar each. Some popular music is still enjoyed today, so it's possible to sell some individual popular songs for about five dollars each. 


There is no guide for the value of collectible rolls because, for a roll to be collectible, it takes a combination of roll brand, composer, and roll artist to make a roll worth more than five dollars.  In most groups of rolls there will be some rolls worth ten to thirty dollars each. Rolls worth a hundred dollars or more are truly rare. 


Among the most valuable rolls are Vocalstyle brand rolls played by Fred (Jelly Roll) Morton. Some of these Morton rolls can sell for $100 to $500 each for original copies. Rare rolls have been copied. Photos of the box labels helps me determine if you have an original roll worth a lot, or a ten dollar copy. 


Old paper rolls are brittle, but 100 year old piano rolls can still be played with care. Ripped rolls should never be thrown away. The music on ripped rolls can be made into a computer file with a machine I've built, saving the music forever. 


Don't put clear tape over the box labels to hold the box together, and don't tape up damaged rolls. It's best to sell them as they are.



Pin-end Rolls

Pin-end roll (top) regular 88 note roll (bottom).

 SIXTY FIVE NOTE ROLLS
     The earliest rolls have metal pin ends on either side of the spool. On the inside of the box for the pin-end rolls, there are wooden blocks to support the roll. All player pianos manufactured before 1909 only used 65 of the playing notes for the player mechanism. Sixty five note rolls continued to be made after 1909 for people who needed music for these older pianos. Few people own 65 note player pianos today. 


In 1909, all player piano manufacturers agreed to use 88 note rolls, as the one kind of roll for every brand of player piano.


 Piano rolls produced from 1909 through the early teens usually had an indication on the label telling the buyer they were 88 note rolls. Many rolls simply had the number 88 on the label, whereas others had: EIGHTY-EIGHT NOTE or FULL SCALE.

     

There are other types of pin-end rolls used on unusual music machines such as player organs. Some pin-end rolls can be valuable.  If you have a group of pin-end rolls, all with the same type of label, they might be special rolls. 

Typical group of 65 note pin-end player piano rolls.

Here is what one end of a pin-end roll looks like. 

Rolls that are not old enough to be collectible

Rolls made after WWII (about 1940) are almost never collectilbe.

Brown-box QRS brand rolls sell for about a dollar each when offered in groups on Ebay.  Individual rolls can sell for $5+ if offered individually.  There is no way to tell what songs will sell for $5+ each - it all depends on what songs buyers are looking for at the time.


I don't buy brown-box QRS rolls, but you're welcome to send photos with these rolls mixed in with other types of rolls.

Four examples of brown-box QRS rolls

Numbers in small print indicate the age of these rolls 757 = July 1957, 1154 = November 1954, 1144 = November 1944. One label has no date. Different colors of "brown" coverings were used on these rolls. 


They were manufactured from about 1940 through the 1960s.

Four different box coverings for brown-box QRS rolls

The roll in the front has no box covering. It was made during WWII when materials were scarce. Look to see tape holding the cardboard box together. That's what's under the coverings under the three other brown-box QRS rolls in this photo.

Red-box QRS rolls are not old enough to be collectible.

Red-box QRS brand rolls were made starting in the late sixties, and are still being made today. Rolls like these usually sell for a dollar or two  each when offered in groups on Ebay.  Individual rolls can sell for $5+ if offered individually.  There is no way to tell what songs will sell for $5+ each - it all depends on what songs buyers are looking for at the time. Some large format QRS rolls with the prefix XP (extra play) can sell for about $10 each if  offered individually.


I don't buy red-box QRS rolls, but you're welcome to send photos with these rolls mixed in with other types of rolls.

Four kinds of "red-box" QRS rolls.

Four kinds of "red-box" QRS rolls.

Here are four different kinds of QRS rolls made after the late 1960 to the present time.


1. Gold box is a Celebrity series roll. The serial numbers start with the prefix CEL. These were played by well known piano players of the day.


2. Green box is a Christmas roll.


3. Later style red-box made form the 1980s to today.


4. The most common red-box roll made from the late 1960s through the 1980s.

Aeolian Brand rolls

I sometimes buy individual Aeolian brand rolls for $5 each plus shipping.

Aeolian brand rolls like these are from the 1960s and 1970s.


Rolls like these usually sell for a dollar or two  each when offered in groups on Ebay.  Individual rolls can sell for $5+ if offered individually.  There is no way to tell what songs will sell for $5+ each - it all depends on what songs buyers are looking for at the time. 


I do not buy these rolls in groups, but I may offer $5 per roll plus shipping for songs on this brand that I do not already have.

Four different kinds of Aeolian brand boxes.

These rolls are from the 1960s and 1970s.

A few of the many colored boxes on the Aeolian brand.

There are dozens of box and label colors for the Aeolian brand rolls. Here are just a few.

Rolls I sometimes buy.

Reproducing rolls

Reproducing pianos played music that sounded like a live pianist. They "reproduced" the artist's touch on the keyboard. 

Mostly found in grand pianos, but sometimes in uprights, reproducing pianos were made in the early part of the 1900s starting in 1906 and continued to be made until the end of the Great Depression.


    There were a dozen or more reproducing systems but the most popular reproducing roll brands are: Ampico, Duo-Art, Welte and Deluxe.


Electric reproducing pianos regulated the vacuum levels by way of several extra holes at the edges of the paper. They regulated vacuum along with a few extra functions, producing piano music with human interpretation. In short, they reproduced the artist touch upon the keyboard. 


   The Welte reproducing piano was introduced in Europe in 1906. American versions of the Welte were later manufactured here. Piano rolls for the American Welte are sometimes called Deluxe. The U.S. produced two competing systems in the early teens; the Ampico and the Duo-Art. 


A number of roll manufacturers made copies of reproducing rolls. I buy copies of Ampico, Duo-Art and Welte rolls made after the 1950s.

  



Duo-Art reproducing rolls

I buy these sometimes. 


Some are worth more than others. I'll be glad to value your rolls for you and make offers on ones I want to buy. 

Ampico reproducing rolls

I buy these sometimes.


Some are worth more than others. 

The roll on the right, second from the bottom has "Ampico" in bold Art-Deco print. These were made after 1929 and are generally worth more than the others.


I'll be glad to value your rolls for you and make offers on ones I want to buy.

Welte reproducing rolls

Here are two of the most common Welte reproducing box labels. Black & white Deluxe, and gold and brown Welte-Mignon. There is a purple label that's usually worth more than these. 


I buy these sometimes. 


I'll be glad to value your rolls for you and make offers on ones I want to buy. 

What do I do with all the rolls I buy?

All collectible piano rolls are recorded as computer MIDI files.

I built this machine in the year 2000. It takes all the information found on piano rolls and saves it as a MIDI file. Not a true sound recording, but a digital map containing all the information found on the roll. 


Today, many rolls are getting too brittle to play. Someday the acid in the paper will make all the old rolls impossible to use. 


Once a MIDI file has been created, the music on a piano roll is saved for future generations.

Piano roll MIDI recording unit

As the 100 year old piano roll plays on the right, a computer MIDI file is being created on the screen on the left.


Everything involved is digital. Even though you can hear the music on the piano roll, there is no piano. The sound is digital too.


When the roll comes to the end and I click on "save", the digital MIDI file saves the information on the roll for future generations. 


I've recorded thousands of songs onto MIDI files.

New MIDI machine is in the works!

I hope to have this new MIDI machine working sometime in 2019.

MIDI recordings are not music recordings for listening in their raw form. With this new machine I'll be able to add expression to each of the notes. Then, each song will sound as if it were being played by a human being instead of a machine.  If this machine works, I plan on sharing the finished music files with the public.