A rare Beatles-signed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album obtained by a young hotel porter sold for $175,698 via RR Auction of Amherst, N.H.
The U.K. first-issue mono pressing of the album on the Parlophone Records label was signed on the full-color gatefold in dark ballpoint ink by Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, and in black felt-tip pen by George Harrison.
This band-signed copy of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album brought more than $175,000 at auction Jan. 15, 2014. Photo courtesy RR Auctions.
A young porter at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay, U.K., where the band stayed from Sept. 12-15, 1967, obtained the signatures. The album had been released June 1, 1967.
His letter, written to a member of Sotheby’s auction house, reads, in part: “I got the LP signed when I met them in my hometown nearly 20 years ago. I’d just left school and my friend’s mum got me a steady summer job as a porter at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay. To my and everybody’s amazement, the Beatles stayed at the Atlantic for a few days while they were filming … The Sgt. Peppers LP had only just been released a few months prior. The manager told all the staff who worked at the hotel not to bother or ask them for their autograph … I thought it was a good idea to take something back and have it signed. I sneaked the album back into work up my top as I didn’t want the manager to see. The Beatles didn’t seem to mind anyway, as they signed a few items for staff and guests. I remember having to get George’s at a later day, as he wasn’t present when Paul, Ringo, and John signed.”
At the time of signing, the band’s members had become a bit more accessible to their fans—particularly during the filming of “Magical Mystery Tour,” during which they would occasionally stop and interact with fans, signing whatever was available on the spot, which was usually menus, autograph albums or postcards.
“Only a handful of authentic, complete band-signed ‘Sgt. Pepper’ albums are known to exist, and are very seldom offered for sale at public auction,” says Bobby Livingston, vice president at RR Auction. “This album—is arguably one of the most desirable pieces in the world of rock ’n’ roll collecting.”
Other notable Beatles-related lots sold at the auction include:
• An Itinerary for Halle Orchestra’s series of concerts which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between June 27 and July 3, 1966, one page, 8 x 13, boldly signed on the reverse in black ink by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. $10,540.80.
• Fantastic ballpoint signatures and inscription, “To Joan, love from the Beatles, George Harrison xxxx,” “Ringo Starr xx,” “John Lennon xxx,” and “Paul McCartney xxx,” on a beige 6.5 x 5 album page. Page is still housed in its original hardbound 6.5 x 5.5 autograph album. Tommy Roe has signed on the reverse of the page, Chris Montez on the preceding page, and The Terry Young Six on two other pages. In fine, clean condition. Signatures were acquired during the band’s March 24, 1963 show at the Empire Theatre in their hometown of Liverpool, as a supporting act for Chris Montez and Tommy Roe. $8,097.60.• Vintage ballpoint signatures and inscriptions, “Love to Sheila from John Lennon xxx,” “Love to Sheila from Pete Best xxx,” “To Sheila lots of love from George Harrison xxx,” and “Lots of love to Sheila from Paul McCartney xxx,” on three beige 5.5 x 4.5 album pages. Accompanied by the rest of the original hardcover autograph album (with George Harrison’s license plate number written on the inside back cover), as well as three ticket stubs to the Empire Liverpool, but none from a Beatles appearance. In fine condition, with some slight show-through from a signature on the reverse of McCartney’s page. $3,432.
• Vintage ballpoint signatures, “Beatles, Paul McCartney,” “George Harrison,” and “Ringo Starr,” on an off-white sheet; and a ballpoint signature, “John Lennon,” on an off-white slip. Both are double-matted and framed with a photo of the band looking out from behind a door to an overall size of 17 x 24. In very good condition, with folds and creases to multi-signed sheet, as well as a spot of toning over Starr’s signature, and some scattered surface loss around Lennon’s signature. $2,830.80.• Rare Maclen (Music) Ltd. business check, 8 x 4, filled out in another hand and boldly signed by Lennon, payable to Audiotek for £156-15-0, July 7, 1970. In fine condition, with punch and staple holes to top edge, a small red ink cancellation through a single letter of signature, and expected stamps, none detracting from the overall impressive size and crispness of the signature. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from noted Beatles expert Frank Caiazzo. Lennon had left the Beatles the previous September and was working on his debut solo album, which would be released in late 1970. Lennon checks are quite uncommon, particularly those drawn from his publishing company, with this one boasting a signature almost 4.5″ long. $5,148.• Original signed ballpoint self-portrait caricature on an off-white 3.5 x 2 card, signed “Love, John Lennon 76.” Encapsulated in a plastic PSA/DNA authentication holder. Scattered light wrinkling and creases, otherwise fine condition. $2,448.• Rare color vintage glossy 2.5 x 2.5 candid photo of Hendrix dressed in his famous flamboyant garb and walking with a little girl, signed on the reverse in purple ink, “Love always, Jimi Hendrix.” In fine condition, with subtle scattered surface creases and slight brushing and haloing to ink, not detracting from the overall appearance of the terrific photo and signature. $3,016.80