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Without a doubt, the Beatles were one of the most significant bands in the history of rock and roll music. Credited with launching what was known as the "British Invasion" in late 1963, the Beatles took the United States by storm and paved the way for other British groups to garner loyal followings among American teenagers. Throughout the 1960’s, the Beatles gained fans around the world and continued to command a large following even after their 1970 breakup. It is those enduring fans that fuel continuing interest in several different kinds of Beatles memorabilia.
Perhaps the single most important of all Beatles collectibles is the infamous "Butcher Cover," the original album cover for the 1966 Capitol Records release Yesterday and Today. The cover depicted the four Beatles dressed in butcher smocks and draped with sections of raw meat and various body parts from plastic babies. Due to immediate public outcry, the roughly 750,000 LPs distributed with the cover were immediately recalled and an alternative cover was pasted over many of the recalled covers. Collectors today compete to own a copy of one of the original unblemished covers that were sent to disc jockeys around the United States, or one of the album covers where it is possible to faintly see elements of the butcher cover under the alternative cover.
Another rarity in Beatles records is the series of Christmas music released throughout the 1960’s to members of the Beatles’ official fan club. For several years during that decade, members were treated to special recordings that were not released to the public. At the time of the group’s 1970 breakup, these annual recordings were collected into a long playing record offering that also was released only to members of the official fan club. Both the original annual acetates as well as the 1970 compilation are considered extremely to be valuable Beatles memorabilia.
The large teenage following of the Beatles made them the darlings of teen magazines for several years. During that time, 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat and a host of other fan magazines offered a number of Beatles products, including photo albums, lapel buttons, and other interesting items. Many of these items were priced so that teens could easily afford them, usually no more than $1.00 in United States dollars. Other lesser-known publications also offered items that are considered collectibles today.
Two other key items in Beatles memorabilia have to do with two very significant concerts. One is the 1965 appearance of the Beatles at Shea Stadium in the United States. This concert is notable as being one of the largest concerts of the day, with the Beatles filling the stadium to capacity. The other is the Beatles’ last concert appearance in 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Posters from both these concerts are extremely rare and are highly prized. A few original editions feature the autograph of one or more of the band members, increasing the value of these collectibles.
A number of manufacturers offered a wide range of 1960’s toys, games, and even dolls and puppets based on the group. Some of these examples of Beatles memorabilia are still in existence today and sell briskly among collectors. Bootleg copies of unreleased takes of some of their most famous songs also circulate from time to time, along with Beatles clothing, Beatles wigs, and even Beatles guitars.
Without a doubt, there is still a great deal of Beatles memorabilia available today. However, the competition among collectors and fans is often fierce and the prices for these valuable items are often extravagant. However, there are still instances when some type of memorabilia is found in attics, junk shops and other unlikely venues and can be purchased for very little.
@Vincenzo -- Agreed, and let's not forget that the original, U.S. versions of Beatles albums can be worth quite a bit, too. All of those early Beatles albums came in very different versions -- ones in Great Britain and ones in the United States.
I won't go into detail here (the U.S. versions had singles mixed in and etc.), but the important thing is that the British versions were used for most of the CD remasters. That means the U.S. versions are a bit more rare and those often contained different mastering and such.
The interesting thing is the American versions are often considered inferior due to the sometimes weird remastering, but that has made them a bit more rare than their British counterpoints.
A butcher cover copy of "Yesterday and Today" might be quite valuable, but any of the original Beatles albums should be worth some decent money if they are in good shape. Even some of the somewhat odd collections and reprints are worth quite a bit (I have a Beatles compilation pressed on red vinyl and it is quite a valuable album).
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