Bursting onto the scene in 1962 and changing pop music forever, the Beatles have continued to dominate the music memorabilia league today in the same way that they topped the charts in the Swinging Sixties. The popularity of anything related to the ‘Fab Four’ meant that it was no surprise that, when the first rock memorabilia auction was held in 1981, it was John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s pianos that were the main attraction.
As ‘Beatlemania’ swept across the world, young fans were overwhelmed with merchandise. Beatles enthusiasts today can choose from a huge array of memorabilia, from items related to live performances, such as programmes, to everyday objects emblazoned with Beatles imagery, such as tea towels, cosmetics and even stockings. Despite the exciting range of objects on offer, prices are surprisingly high. Practical and throwaway items that have survived in small numbers are usually the most desirable, particularly if related to a significant moment in the bands career. A handbill for “The Beatles at City Hall Sheffield in 1963” could be worth £800-1,200 ($1,500-2,500), while a promotional flyer for “A Hard Day’s Night” from the Daily Express could be valued at £120-180. Visual appeal is also important. An early talcum powder tin decorated with the face of John, Paul, George and Ringo could fetch a substantial £150-200 ($300-400), while a brightly colored ‘Yellow Submarine’ lunch box could be worth a staggering £800-1,200 ($1,500-2,500).
A signature from one or more of the band members usually increases an object’s appeal: a signed copy of “She Loves You” recently fetched £1,500 ($3,000), while a Christmas card and eight page letter from Lennon to his first wife, sold for around £8,000 ($15,000) at auction. Be wary of fake signatures, or objects signed on behalf of the band by their office staff. By far the most valuable items tend to be objects owned by the band, such as instruments, documents and clothing. Conversely, many Beatles records can be worth very little, unless they have rare variations in wording on the sleeve, were produced in small runs, or were withdrawn from sale.
Find out more...
'Miller's Rock & Pop Memorabilia', by Stephen Maycock, published by Miller's, 1994