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1 November 2006

Los Angeles, CA…



“Lost Decca Recordings” Found at Bonhams & Butterfields


After 70-years, Judy Garland’s First Recording Session and Never-before Heard Renditions Come to Auction


Fan websites and Internet blogs devoted to the legendary Judy Garland have been buzzing as of late – chat about existence of what insiders call “The Lost Decca Recordings” is now being confirmed as auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields announce the pending sale of a remarkable pair of 1935 acetate (or shellac) discs from the first-ever recording session of a then-12-year-old who would become a world famous superstar.

The two records, created in a recording studio in Hollywood in March of 1935, feature never-released renditions of songs sung by Judy Garland in her early Vaudeville shows – including the torch song, Bill, from the Broadway musical Showboat.  Garland’s Vaudeville era spanned from 1924 to 1935, and her dramatic rendition of Bill, was memorable as it presented the then little Frances Gumm perched on a piano with just a tight spotlight on her face.  Cheers would follow the performance after the spotlight broadened to reveal that a child had sung the song and not an adult woman.  No known childhood recording of Bill by Judy Garland exists outside of the recordings to be offered on December 17 at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles. 

Margaret Barrett, director of Bonhams & Butterfields’ Entertainment Memorabilia Dept., places a value of $30,000 to $40,000 on the pair of records and said, “they were thought to have been destroyed or erased; the versions of the particular songs on these discs have never-before been heard by the public.”

According to Scott Schechter's book, Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend [2002/2006], that March 1935 session marked the first time Garland was ever in a recording studio in Hollywood - quite an historic day.  She was accompanied to the studio by her mother, Ethel Gumm, who also played the piano as Judy sang.  It is believed that Garland made a third recording on that day, Moonglow, with her sisters (professionally known as The Gumm Sisters), but only these two discs have surfaced; the other recording is still thought to be lost (as these were until now).  Schechter has heard the discs and notes that "it is obvious that even at the age of 12, Judy Garland was magical all on her own -- before MGM.  'Bill' is especially thrilling, and the experience of hearing this performance is something the listener will keep with them forever.  These first-ever Garland records are pure, priceless, and true show business history."

It is also unclear if these particular discs are the original records pressed that day, or if they were pressed later for Garland's own personal library.  The records were discovered in material destined for the trash bins as a family cleared out a Beverly Hills home they’d bought, formerly inhabited years before by Garland herself.  The woman who, as a young girl, found them in 1960, has held on to the discs for more than 40-years, understanding that Judy Garland records might have some value.

The first disc has a green label inscribed "Recordings Incorporated / Studio / 5505 Melrose, Hollywood, Calif." with handwritten notations in black ink which read "Bill / Just My Bill [crossed out] / Judy Garland / at 11 yrs" [though she was actually 12 years old at the time].  The second disc has a similar green label with handwritten notations in black ink reading "Good Ship Lollypop / Object of My Affections / Dinah / by / Judy Garland; this disc records Garland singing a medley of the three songs noted on the label.

These rare Garland records will be offered to bidders during the Entertainment Memorabilia auction to be held in the Sunset Blvd salesrooms of Bonhams & Butterfields, the world’s third largest fine arts auctioneers.  The sale will include TV, film and stage collectibles and memorabilia, vintage film posters and rock & roll material.  The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at in the weeks preceding the sale.  The property will be exhibited for the public during the preview days beginning Friday, Dec. 15, continuing daily from 10am-5pm until Dec 17 and the 10am start of the auction. 


Press Contact:  Jannelle Grigsby  323-436-5458

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies.  Today, Bonhams is the third largest and fastest growing auction house in the world with a global network of offices and regional representatives providing sales advice and valuation services in 20 countries. It offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further 10 throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, Monaco, and Australia. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of more than 40 Bonhams specialist departments, go to  For other press releases, go to