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First edition sheet music of Jingle Bells published in 1859 expected to sell for £8,000 at auction

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What a score! Rare first edition sheet music of Jingle Bells published in 1859 is expected to sell for £8,000 at auction

  • The eight page document published in 1859 was found in a private collection 
  • Originally there was no mention of Christmas in the tune by James Pierpont 
  • However it became associated with Christmas due to drawings of bells on sheet 
  • Auctioneers in Wiltshire expect the rare document to sell for around £8,000  

A rare first edition of sheet music of popular Christmas tune Jingle Bells is expected to sell for £8,000 at auction. 

The eight page document published in 1859 has been unearthed 162 years after it was written having belonged to a private collector for decades. 

Originally, there was no mention of the festive season in the song written by James Pierpont, who called it ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’ associated with the practice of sleigh riding in north America. 

A rare first edition of sheet music of popular Christmas tune Jingle Bells is expected to sell for £8,000 at auction

Originally, there was no mention of the festive season in the song written by James Pierpont, who called it 'The One Horse Open Sleigh'

Originally, there was no mention of the festive season in the song written by James Pierpont, who called it ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’

The document is expected to fetch £8,000 at the auction at Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneers on December 17 in Devizes, Wiltshire

The document is expected to fetch £8,000 at the auction at Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneers on December 17 in Devizes, Wiltshire

But when he added a drawing of sleigh bells to the cover of the sheet music around the new title it is now known by, it became associated with Christmas.  

Thirty years later it was turned into a record and became the very first Christmas song which remains a classic to this day. The song was the first associated with the festive season to be played in space. 

In December 1965, astronauts in the Gemini VI spacecraft played a rendition of it on the radio to Mission Control.  

Only one other first edition copy of the tune exists today, which is held in a museum in New York. 

The second, which has now been unearthed, is being sold at Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneers on December 17 in Devizes, Wiltshire with a pre-sale estimate of £8,000. 

The title on the front cover of the sheet music is ‘Jingle Bells or the One Horse Open Sleigh’. It states the song and chorus was written by J. Pierpont and that the sheet music was published by Oliver Ditson & Co of Boston, Massachusetts. 

The eight page document published in 1859 has been unearthed 162 years after it was written having belonged to a private collector for decades

The eight page document published in 1859 has been unearthed 162 years after it was written having belonged to a private collector for decades

The song was initially called 'The One Horse Open Sleigh' and was associated with the practice of sleigh riding in north America

The song was initially called ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’ and was associated with the practice of sleigh riding in north America

Only one other first edition copy of the tune exists today, which is held in a museum in New York

Only one other first edition copy of the tune exists today, which is held in a museum in New York

The title on the front cover of the sheet music is 'Jingle Bells or the One Horse Open Sleigh'

The title on the front cover of the sheet music is ‘Jingle Bells or the One Horse Open Sleigh’

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: ‘It is the song that everyone associates with Christmas and has done for over a century. It must be up there with Slade and Mariah Carey as the most played Christmas song today.

‘This sheet music is at the genesis of the commercial behemoth that is Christmas, especially from a musical point of view.

‘It is eight pages and apart from a small water stain it is in good condition which is quite remarkable considering it is over 160 years old.’

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