I'm using "popular classics" in the traditional sense--i.e., concert "Pops," except not Michael Jackson. I just VinylStudio-restored two 1926 concert "Pops," and you'll have to put up with a little distortion during the loud part on the second--the wider grooves fell victim to a bad needle at some point in the disc's history.
Now, this is something I should be, but am not, clear about--namely, why was it mostly the wider grooves that got damaged by worn 78 needles? Because the needle rests more deeply in the groove? Or, maybe the culprit wasn't needle wear but tonearm mis-tracking. You know, that could explain it. If the needle isn't riding properly in the groove, then its greatest variations would happen in the wider areas. Sections of the groove wall would take serious hits from the needle as it bounced around, whereas in the quieter, thinner grooves, the needle would be likely to mostly stay the course.
Remember that record damage is more often an issue of bad tonearm tracking/alignment than wear. Or so I've been assured by people who know more than I do.
It's amazing what engineers could accomplish in 1926. Hear the proof:
Pomp and Circumstance--Chicago Symph. Orch. and Grand Organ, Dir. Frederick Stock, 1926
William Tell--Overture (The Storm)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1926.
(Above) My copy, when it was an eBay orphan....