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Music fans wax lyrical for 120-year-old record

USA: A 120-year-old wax-covered cylinder containing the earliest known recording of a black US vocal group has been sold at auction.

Discovered in a private collection in Portland, Maine, the 1893 recording of ‘Mama’s Black Baby Boy’ by the New York-based Unique Quartet was one of only two known copies and sold for $1,100 (€810). The other is 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 New England auctioneers at Saco River Auction had no idea how much they might fetch. Before the auction, an appraiser suggested they were each worth $25,000 or more.

The cylinder recordings were played on an early-style phonograph that had the appearance of a Victrola-style player. However, the music was etched in wax on cylinders instead of in the grooves of vinyl records.

The wax was so fragile that auctioneers did not dare try to play them.


ENGLAND: His signature dishes include snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream, but a recipe has finally beaten celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal — savoury candyfloss.

The star, whose scientific approach to cooking has made his Fat Duck restaurant a huge success, said he tried to make it for years. He said: “I spent four years trying to make savoury candyfloss. I know a lot about candyfloss now, but even more about flogging a dead horse.”

Blumenthal said he was looking forward to cooking Christmas dinner but dreading the “downside” of shopping for it.


USA: A New York teacher could be in hot water after sending a note home with her pre-kindergarten students saying some of them were showing up to school so dirty she did not want to touch them.

Parents say the handwritten note was sent home by a teacher at the Buffalo School District’s Build Academy. The Nov 14 letter says several of the three- and four-year-old children “also give off unpleasant smells”. The letter also requested the signatures of both parent and child to confirm it was received.

The school board concluded the teacher should face disciplinary action. Kimberly Wells says she was shocked by the letter her granddaughter brought home. She says it made the girl ask if her teacher thinks she stinks.


SCOTLAND: Aberdeen will attempt an unusual record by gathering singers named David to perform the carol ‘Once In Royal David’s City’.

Anyone aged seven and older called David was invited to take part in the world record bid at the city’s Castlegate.

Tourist officials came up with the stunt to promote Aberdeen’s Christmas lights switch-on and winter festival. No singing experience is necessary, and Daves and Davies were also welcome to join the choir.


USA: Managers at a hotel in Atlanta are rewarding a homeless man who turned in a wallet stolen from one of its guests.

Omni Hotel managing director Scott Stuckey had been searching for the man seen in security camera footage turning the wallet in. The man heard about the search and went to the hotel. He is being given a week-long stay at the hotel and a cash reward.

A hotel guest from France told police a man grabbed her purse on Nov 7. Later that day, a man who said he was homeless came to the Omni Hotel and said he was looking in a rubbish bin for food when he found the wallet, which contained credit cards and identification. The hotel checked the woman’s name and found that she was a guest at the hotel.


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