Sheet Music Size
Over the past 225 or so years there have been many different types of sheet music published in the US. However, there have been only a few differences in size in that sheet music published in the US. These types are discribed below and illustrated with images. I really do hope this will help potential buyers and sellers of sheet music.
Large Format - This is music from mostly before 1920 (although some examples of large format sheets from later dates do exist) and is approximately 10" by 13" in size with up to about 1/2" to 1" or slightly more size variation in either direction.
Shown above here is a typical Large Format Sheet, "Dear Heart" from 1908. In the image one can see "Happy Days In Dixie", F. A. Mills, Publisher, from 1898. As typical of some sheets from the late 1800's and early 1900's published by F. A. Mills and also Jos. W. Stern Co., it is slightly larger, about 3/8" wider.
Shown above is the same "Dear Heart" with a Sunday Supplement. This example from The New York American and Journal, Sunday, June 29, 1902, "Just A Gentle Touch". These supplements came into vogue about 1895 and lasted until about 1908. Most are very close to Large Format size, although there is great variation, some were in smaller papers or came as part of a larger page. I have seen these in bound volumes as well, and thus trimmed up to 1/2" on each of the edges.
Here is the same "Dear Heart" shown with a heavily lithographed sheet from 1892. Once again, "Sleighbell Chimes" is a typical large format size.
Here is another 19th Century Sheet, "Passion Flower Caprice", 1887, shown with "Dear Heart". Again the same Large Format size.
Even sheets which came with a counter cover, as the one shown here next to "Dear Heart", they were the same Large Format size. This example "Etude de Concert" ca late 1870's has the exact same cover (without the yellow paper) as a part of the actual sheet.
Even sheets from earlier years were the same Large Format size, as this Wm. Vincent Walllace sheet, "Woodland Sketches" from 1851 is. An important note to add here is that many times extant sheets from this period come from bound volumes. Many well-to-do homes had their favorite sheets bound into hardcover volumes. This sometimes required slight trimming along the edges to get uniform sizing. Thus, we can see that this sheet is slightly smaller [the old store stamp at the bottom has been partially cut away]. Most collectors do not think this affects the value or desirability of the sheet since many of them are truly scarce.
Small Format - This size was phased in beginning around 1918 (although there are several earlier examples) and is approximately 9" by 12" with some small variation in any direction.
Above one can see the "Dear Heart" sheet from 1908 next to a typical Small Format sheet, "Victor Herbert's Masterpiece - Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life", which has a copyright date of 1910 but is actually from a later date, 1925.
That typical Small Format size continue until the late 1950's - early 1960's. Here is "Dear Heart" with a 1940 Disney sheet, "Give A Little Whistle" from Pincocchio.
Modern Size - After approximately 1960 most companies started publishing even smaller sheet, about 8" X 10" in size - with variation of up to 1/2" or more in either direction.
Here is our "Dear Heart" sheet with the 1963 Mary Poppins Movie song, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". This one is actually closer to 8 1/2" X 11" in size.
War Editions - WW I - No discussion would be complete without mention of the so-called small folio size originally produced during World War I to conserve paper. The sheet typically measure between 6" and 8" side-to-side by 8" to 10" top-to-bottom. Sizes varied by publisher (and sometimes within the same publishing house). There are some later examples of this size with small local publishing houses. The most prolific publisher of these sheets was Leo Feist. Inc. of New York.
The "Freckles" sheet shown here with "Dear Heart" is actually about 7 3/4" x 10 1/2". It was published by Leo Feist, Inc.
The far right sheet in this image, "How Are You Going To Wet Your Whistle When The Whole Darn World Goes Dry?" is another Feist published song. It is the more typical size of Feist songs, 7 1/4 X 10 1/2".