Value of old sheet music is judged by its cover

Q: I inherited music from my father, an organist who came over from Germany in 1910. He brought over quite a bit of classical and Gregorian music. He also passed down some sheet music from the 1920s and '30s. How might I find a reliable estimator of their value? I do not own a computer and live on Long Island, N.Y.
W.J.J., Rockville Center, N.Y.

A: Schiffer Publishing, (610-593-1777), prints books on collectibles including sheet music (titles include "Covers of Gold" and "The Gold in Your Piano Bench"). Collector Books, of Paducah, Ky., (800-626-5420), also might be of some assistance.

David Beane, of Beane Antiques in Benton, Maine, suggests asking a friend who uses the Internet to help you get a feel for the size of the market and what's selling. He recommends or

A buyer and seller of sheet music for the past 20 years, Mr. Beane says collectors seem to favor cover art more than the song inside the cover. "Anything that has an impact on your eye," he says. They'll pay extra for covers done by well-known artists such as E.P. Paul, or featuring famous performers such as singer Al Jolson, he adds.

Q: In 2002, I had excellent credit. Then I started a divorce action and my finances went south along with my credit rating. The past three months have been very bad for me. I usually don't have much long-term debt with the exception of a student loan and/or a mortgage. I just sold all my stock to help clear off a major credit-card debt. How long will it take to clear up my poor risk credit rating?
G.R., via e-mail

A: The first step you should take is to make absolutely sure that your credit rating and that of your former spouse are completely separated, says Jordan Goodman, author of "Everyone's Money Book on Credit." Many ex-spouses have run up credit-card bills or taken on other debts that could sink their former partner's finances, he says. So make sure you remove your name from any joint credit cards, bank accounts, etc.

Unfortunately, your credit score will not rebound right away after paying back this debt. It's based on many factors, including how much debt you have outstanding and your payment history, Mr. Goodman says.

To see your complete credit record and score, Goodman recommends visiting, which connects you to the Equifax credit-monitoring service.

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