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Keffer Collection of Sheet Music

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The Keffer Collection of Sheet Music contains 2,531 scores ranging in date from ca. 1790 to 1895. The great majority of the items were published in the United States and approximately 1,150 items were produced by publishers in Philadelphia. The musical content of the collection consists largely of American popular songs and piano music, but also includes works by famous European composers published in the United States.

  • Collection description
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    American sheet music of the nineteenth century provides a fascinating historical record of contemporary social concerns, issues, events, celebrities, and tastes. This record is further enhanced by the prevalent use of illustrations for title pages, including portraits, landscapes, and scenes of battles or local sites of interest. Many of the most significant American lithographic artists of the nineteenth century provided illustrations for sheet music and a substantial number of their works are included in this collection.

    The collection was compiled by Edward Iungerich Keffer, a Philadelphia dentist and noted amateur musician. 

Collection description and highlights

American sheet music of the nineteenth century provides a fascinating historical record of contemporary social concerns, issues, events, celebrities, and tastes. This record is further enhanced by the prevalent use of illustrations for title pages, including portraits, landscapes, and scenes of battles or local sites of interest. Many of the most significant American lithographic artists of the nineteenth century provided illustrations for sheet music and a substantial number of their works are included in this collection.

Works by prominent Philadelphia composers, such as Benjamin Carr, Benjamin Cross, William Henry Fry, Francis Johnson, Alexander Reinagle, and Septimus Winner are to be found here. The collection also contains items for which Philadelphia served as the subject of either the music or illustration. 

About the collector

The collection was compiled by Edward Iungerich Keffer, a Philadelphia dentist and noted amateur musician. Dr. Keffer's affection for the city is reflected in the holdings of his collection with its strong representation of the arts in Philadelphia.

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