Prior to the digital age, artifacts of popular culture sometimes simply disappeared. In her moving new book Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 rpm Records (Scribners), author Amanda Petrusich dives deep into the world of the insular obscurantists who adore the country blues and other misty musical stylings recorded on 78s in the 1920s and '30s.
While covetous of their fragile slabs of shellac, most collectors are happy to share the music they contain. These self-selected fan-curators serve as the preservationists and promoters of entire swaths of American vernacular folk music that might otherwise have been lost in a world where sometimes only one copy of a 78 is known to exist.
From pre-dawn flea market raids to scuba diving for drowned 78 masters, Petrusich projects the peculiar passions of men whose adoration of the past helps it survive to the future. -Brian Doherty