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Music Shops - old and new


Martin Cooke
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There used to be the "Penwith Music Shop" just off the Greenmarket and "H M James" music shop in Market Jew Street, both in Penzance, Cornwall. Both long since closed, they were certainly trading into the 1980s. The PMusSh was a pretty small premises which, as I remember, sold mainly records and tapes (there could have been some sheet music on sale and if not orders could be placed). H M James was, I believe, the only authorised HMV outlet in Cornwall. Records and tapes, including all the latest 'pop' music, sheet music which included organ music, pianos, electric organs and other instruments were available. My grandfather bought my mother an upright, "Evestaff" piano from Marshall James when she was a girl: we still have it at home.

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On 24/01/2022 at 10:07, Vox Humana said:

Sadly, Blackwells is only the merest shadow of its former, awe-inspiring self. O tempora, o mores!

Blackwells' organ section was much reduced when they moved from the separate music shop into the main bookshop, and has since been reduced further. It's good for choral music and for obvious repertoire, but there are few pleasant surprises these days.

Antiques on High, a short walk away on the High Street, has an excellent second-hand music room run by Austin Sherlaw-Johnson - right at the back of the shop. Give yourself an hour to look through it. He had an outpost in the Malvern Bookshop a while back but I'm not sure if it's still going.

Hancock & Monks on Broad Street in Hay-on-Wye is good - I picked up a Music Sales sampler of about 20 evensong settings in one volume for £15 a couple of years ago, which I thought was an absolute bargain. Archive Bookstore in Marylebone is a real timewarp but absolutely full of treasures.

And you'd be surprised what you can find in an Oxfam bookshop sometimes...

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11 hours ago, Richard Fairhurst said:

.....

Antiques on High, a short walk away on the High Street, has an excellent second-hand music room run by Austin Sherlaw-Johnson - right at the back of the shop. Give yourself an hour to look through it. He had an outpost in the Malvern Bookshop a while back but I'm not sure if it's still going.

Hancock & Monks on Broad Street in Hay-on-Wye is good - I picked up a Music Sales sampler of about 20 evensong settings in one volume for £15 a couple of years ago, which I thought was an absolute bargain. Archive Bookstore in Marylebone is a real timewarp but absolutely full of treasures.

And you'd be surprised what you can find in an Oxfam bookshop sometimes...

Old fashioned second hand sheet music shops are almost essential if you are interested in getting items like light music from the 1920s or so which can be adapted for playing on theatre organs.  Often, you just can't get such things in any other way.  And as Richard said, real bargains can sometimes be picked up, such as a complete set of piano conductor scores in four hardbound volumes for The Mikado which I got for next to nothing.  The big problem, obviously, is that such places are now vanishing fast.

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I wouldn't forget charity shops, either.

I have stopped browsing in them since Covid, but recall seeing some surprising scores, books of music and what has been described above in a couple locally. 

Tangentially, I picked up for 50p each two King's CD transfers from the 1950s (conducted by Boris Ord) on an outside market stall.

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On 30/01/2022 at 20:54, Richard Fairhurst said:

Blackwells' organ section was much reduced when they moved from the separate music shop into the main bookshop, and has since been reduced further. It's good for choral music and for obvious repertoire, but there are few pleasant surprises these days.

There may be even fewer soon.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/feb/01/family-blackwells-bookshops-for-sale-sign-waterstones

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Most of the topic has been concerned with shops offering scores. My interest has been in places which might prove good sources of second- hand   books about the organ, its makers and its players (where have I seen that before?). I started to collect books of that kind about 50 years ago and was mainly concerned with acquiring a full run of "The Organ". This took me to different sources, including a farmer's barn which also had a selection of agricultural equipment. His stock had some books scattered about and, on my enquiring about organ books, he said "Do you mean those blue things?", and pointed to a small heap of that journal. Sadly, that establishment closed down after a violent robbery in which his dog was seriously injured .Another famous shop was Holleyman  & Treacher of Brighton.On my only visit I was dazzled by shelf on shelf of books on the organ(including a good run of my particular quarry).This shop has long since gone. Also on the South Coast was a wonderful shop in Hastings run by a retired librarian. When I asked the owner about books on the organ, I was led downstairs to a well-- stocked basement which yielded- up several treasures. Harrogate once had a second-hand bookshop which had some shelves laden with organ fodder. On my last visit, said shelves were empty: an enquiry led to the fact that "the gentleman from Paris had cleared the lot". I wondered who that might have been! The end of my book hunting came when I decided to sell my collection of a few hundred books and journals. A certain dealer in used organ music rather unkindly suggested that I would be best advised to give them to a charity shop!                    Happy to say , I sold most of them to private buyers and realised a few thousand quid. Yes, there was a remnant which I donated to a gentleman who was going to open a section of his shop which would be devoted to music. 

 

 

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I was one of the purchasers of Denis’s organ book collection mentioned here. Dr David Shuker at Sign of the Pipe has issued his tenth catalogue of organ books - he deserves to better known since there has been no reference yet in this discussion board as far as I can remember.

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Hi

Memories from Denis' post.  I remember Holleyman's in Brighton & Hove, but not specifically for music or books about organs.  Back in the day I was friendly with Mr Holleryman's son.  I bought my copy of Sumner's "The Organ" from there.

I don't remember a good secondhand bookshop in Hastings, despite living near there for a number of years.  Maybe it had gone before then?  I'm still trying to complete my set of "The Organ".

As to secondhand bookshops, Badger Books in Worthing often have a small selection of organ books in their music section.  There was another s/h bookshop in the town, just up the road from the Salvation Army Citadel that had a good range of sheet music as well as books, but they closed or moved elsewhere.  I've not been to Worthing for about 6 years, but I found Badger books on the web just now.  Another place that might be worth a look if you're in the area is the secondhand section of Carnforth Bookshop.  I've not found any books about organs there (plenty of other books that I've bought though), and they had a small selection of sheet music.

I've bought quite a few books from David Shuker since I came across his web site a few years ago.  There's usually a good selection - I'm running out of shelf space!  Sadly, I can't afford some of the rarer titles he sometimes lists.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I wonder if anyone else remembers Frasers's Music shop in Bedford?  As a teenager in the 1960s my parents opened an account there, and I was able to call in and "purchase" organ music whenever I liked, receiving an invoice with no price on it. That would be added later, I was told.   Months went by and my parents received nothing by way of a statement, and they asked what was happening.  They received a bill (which they paid) for about half of what I had actually had!  I must have told the shop assistant in the sheet music dept. (Mr Neville) that I was having problems finding somewhere to practice in the holidays (no problem in term time because I was a boarder and had access to the school chapel) He must have told his boss, and the rather formidable Miss (Mrs?) Fraser then contacted me to say that in their store was a "Malkin" piano pedalboard, which I could have.  I jumped at that idea, and rigged it up on our second-best home piano.   We never received an invoice for that, despite requesting one. Sadly the shop is no longer there.  If they weren't very good at collecting  money that might explain it.    

Electronic organs have now rendered pedal pianos a thing of the past, but my (or perhaps, Frasers's) Malkin board was donated to the St Giles International Organ School for use in pedalling classes on the summer course.

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There was Nicholson's on Parliament Street in Harrogate. A few pianos and school recorders at ground floor level and then the ascent to the nicotine-fugged first floor, where Joe N himself presided, going for the record for the longest fag-ash! Lots of sheet music, manuscript books, a huge range of everything, including the latest top 40 hits, instrument spares etc. For some time one of Francis Jackson's sons worked there, too. Long gone, but not forgotten.

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  • 1 month later...

I've replied to this thread already about the Kent and Cooper music emporium in Nottingham in the mid-20th century, but was reminded of another one in the same city when I bought a copy of S S Wesley's Larghetto in F# minor recently from an ebay seller.  Its front cover is embossed with the name 'Nequest, Sherwood Street' and belonged to one by the name of Churchill, though the initials are not readable.  It's a Novello edition dated 1947 and the cover price was 3/- (3 shillings, or 15 pence today).

It brought back memories of the place which I had quite forgotten.  I used to browse around it as a schoolboy and my piano and organ teachers sometimes used to source their music  from there (the latter was the late Russell Missin, then at St Mary's Nottingham before the old Walker was replaced by the Marcussen).  The shop can be seen in this link:

https://picturenottingham.co.uk/image-library/image-details/poster/ntgm002646/posterid/ntgm002646.html

The shop was founded by Peter Nequest, perhaps going back as far as the Victorian era.  He and his wife had a son, also Peter, who was killed in the first world war at the age of eighteen.  Genealogical details expanding on this sad story can be seen here:

https://secure.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/RollOfHonour/People/Details/1029

 

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