Why I Paid $37,100 for One Record

John Tefteller just paid the highest price ever for a single 78 rpm record. The record collector and blues fanatic explains why he actually got a good deal


t's fitting that when I first try to reach John Tefteller, he was negotiating a rare record deal and asked to call me back. I called Tefteller, an Oregon-based record dealer whose collection numbers more than 400,000 45s, 78s and LPs, after hearing of his astounding purchase of bluesman Tommy Johnson's "Alcohol and Jake Blues" for $37,100. It's the most anyone has ever spent on a 78 rpm record and one of the highest prices paid for any record.

Tefteller, who makes his living buying and selling recordsand dealing blues memorabilia, has been collecting records for more than 40 years, but even he couldn't believe his luck upon discovering a near-perfect copy of "Alcohol and Jake Blues." The record is considered a Holy Grail among blues record collectors and stands as a vital historical document of the genre. 

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