I just cleaned a disc from the soundtrack to The Bells Of St. Mary’s and spun it with the new 78 cartridge and stylus I ordered from Japan. It played perfectly — a few pops and clicks which I expect a more thorough cleaning will mostly eliminate.
These 78s are more than 68 years old. They’re made of one-third shellac and two-thirds finely pulverized rock, with a bit of cotton fiber added for tensile strength. Their surfaces are super-hard but the discs will snap in two like flatbread if bent even slightly.
The fact that they’ve survived in this condition between 1946 and today really is a kind of miracle.
Click on the image to enlarge.