Blues Collector and longtime Rare Records dealer John Tefteller won a recent eBay auction which featured a previously unknown and potentially one of a kind Blues 45 rpm record produced by the Sun label back in 1953.” I think I stole it,” said Tefteller of the record when the auction ended with his winning bid of $10,323.00.
The record, “Lonesome Old Jail” and “Greyhound Blues,” features an outstanding old style acoustic Blues performance by Alabama Blues singer D. A. Hunt. It was Hunt’s first and only record and sold very, very few copies when first released by Sam Phillips’ now legendary Sun records label of Memphis, Tennessee. The Sun label is most famous for being the first to record Elvis Presley and is credited as being the label that started Rock and Roll, but the first couple dozen releases were almost exclusively Blues records.
This record was not previously known to exist on 45 rpm and even the 78 rpm version is one of the rarest and most expensive on the Sun label with several documented sales in excess of $10,000.00,” explained Tefteller.” To find a 45 is a discovery of monumental importance to the record collecting world and I just had to have it.”
Of course, the latest addition to Tefteller’s Blues collection, already referred to by many as the best in the world, means that all the history books, price guides and discographies have to be amended to now state unequivocally, that yes, there is indeed an original 45 rpm pressing of Sun # 183.
Tefteller goes on to explain that when the British record researchers first came to America in the late 1950’s, they went to Sun and, with assistance from Sam Phillips, documented everything. 78 rpm stampers were found for # 183, but NOT 45 rpm stampers and Phillips told the researchers that NO 45’s were made.”
This discovery proves otherwise,” says Tefteller, who speculates that they probably pressed a few hundred and that was it. “Sam must have just forgotten that he made a small amount of 45’s and, significantly, this is NOT a promotional copy, which means that they made some promos as well as regular copies for the stores.”
The copy of Sun 183 that Tefteller won on eBay from Minnesota seller Tim Schloe is not in the best of condition. “I would grade it at VG- which in the world of record collecting means it is pretty well used and abused,” Tefteller states. “There is some damage to the labels as well, but the record does indeed play all the way through and is not totally unpleasant to look at. But all that doesn’t really matter because it is so impossibly rare. No one, myself included, ever dreamed that this existed on 45. It is mind-boggling that since 1953 only one of these has ever surfaced and to surface in 2009 is unbelievable!”
Schloe says he got the record “as part of a large collection of used 45’sthat I bought from the estate of a Dallas, Texas collector who had left them to his brother.” Schloe knew the record was rare when he found it in the rubble of thousands of old 45’s but had “no idea” it would bring over $10,000.00. Tefteller is certain that the Texas collector could not have known it was so rare either or he would have told someone he had it or sold it while he was alive.
According to Tefteller, the world of Sun record collecting has just been turned on its head. “Guys who thought they had them all are now scrambling to find another legitimate copy. This will prove to be quite a challenge, however as no other copy has surfaced in over 50 years. There are hundreds of bootleg copies of this title out there on 45 rpm but so far, I now have the only legitimate one,” boasts Tefteller. “I’ve got it, and I have no plans to sell it. After all, I can’t say I have the top collection ofBlues records in the world if I let this one go.”
While some people may not understand why a collector would pay over $10,000.00 for a beat up old 45 rpm record when you can easily hear both sides of this one in top sound on a reissue CD or a 99 cent Internet download, Tefteller has a ready answer: “You can go to the Louvre and buya 99 cent postcard of the Mona Lisa too, but there is nothing that beats the history and importance of actually owning the original!”
Tefteller, 50, lives in Grants Pass, Oregon and has been buying, selling and collecting rare phonograph records for 35 years. He also produces a yearly Blues calendar and has a series of reissue CD’s on the market of extremely rare Blues performances from the 1920’s. His personal collection contains thousands of original Blues 78 rpm records including dozens of one-of-a-kind records by Blues singers. Tefteller also maintains the world’s most extensive collection of original Blues advertising art and photographs.