1943 Irving Berlin Signed Manuscript

Value (2014) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

This is a hand-written piece of music by Irving Berlin that my mother found while rifling through some old family photographs. It was nestled in with the family of my great-grandfather, who is Ted Wallerstein. He was the president of Columbia Records for a while in the 1940s. And I guess we just kind of had it lying in one of our drawers of family albums.

And how long ago did she find it?

I think she said about ten years ago, something along those lines. We've had it tucked away inside one of our drawers, you know, where someone wouldn't be able to find it, trying to keep it safe. My mother and I haven't been able to find if the song was ever recorded anywhere. All we really know is that it was written by Irving Berlin.

Your great-grandfather, he was the chairman of the board at Columbia Records, and he was responsible for signing Frank Sinatra.

Was he really?

So the chairman of the board discovered the Chairman of the Board.

That's incredible. That is absolutely incredible.

Well, the first thing we look at when a piece of music comes in like this is for the handwritten versus a printed piece of sheet music, and we do see here that it's handwritten. We also see that Irving Berlin has signed it at the top, as well as signing it here at the bottom. And the lyrics do appear to be in his hand. And it took a lot of research for us to really find out the background on this particular song. This song was called "This Time," as we see at the top. The song was in the 1943 movie This Is the Army, and clips can be seen online as well, and it's performed just as it's written in that movie. From 1943, a wartime movie, it's a patriotic song with all the lyrics in reference to the war effort.

Wow, that's absolutely incredible.

Well, the big key is that we did identify the movie that this song was recorded in.


And that makes a big difference compared to if it was an unpublished or unrecorded piece of music. So at auction, we place a value between $10,000 and $15,000.

Oh, my God! That's really great news. Wow. (laughs) I think my family's going to be really happy with that.

Appraisal Details

Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Davenport, WA
Appraised value (2014)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
New York, NY (August 09, 2014)

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