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From lunch boxes to lighters, collectors love the Beatles

Beatles fans are a loyal group of collectors. They adore not only the music, but also the influence the band had on pop culture
A set of Beatles-themed Zippo lighters are among the collectibles catching collectors’ fancies at online auctions. Photo courtesy of eBay

A set of Beatles-themed Zippo lighters are among the collectibles catching collectors’ fancies at online auctions. Photo courtesy of eBay

By Susan Sliwicki

Beatles fans are a loyal group of collectors. They adore not only the music, but also the influence the band had on pop culture. As expected, there’s plenty of traffic in online sales of Beatles recordings (and you can see that in spades with this edition’s Market Watch feature on page 26), but Beatles’ collectibles that go, well, Beyond Vinyl, have a home, too.

Now, don’t blow your 401(k) on Remco Fab Four dolls (although, all things considered with the economy, this might not be the worst thing you could do). But auction action shows there’s still plenty of interest in Fab Four collectibles.

An authenticated, signed Beatles show program proved to be the hottest ticket as of late, seeing 28 bids before closing at $7,651.83. The program, rated in good condition, dates from the group’s fourth U.K. tour in November and December 1963, and all four Beatles signed it.

An original Parlophone signed Beatles publicity photo card from 1962, signed on the reverse by all four Beatles, drew 34 bids before selling for $5,350.03. The piece, which was authenticated, also included an inscription written by John Lennon “To Daphne Love From The Beatles.” According to the seller, Paul McCartney and George Harrison typically wrote most of the group’s autograph inscriptions. The seller rated the card in VG++ condition.

OK, so a 45 technically counts as vinyl. But it’s a different ballgame when it’s a 45 that was signed on the labels by John, Paul, George and Ringo. This Swedish version of “She Loves You” b/w/ “I’ll Get You” (Parlophone R-5055) was issued in 1963, the seller says. The vinyl was characterized as “scuffy” but described to be free of warps, chips, cracks and deep scratches. Final selling price: $5,101.

Anyone who’s ever enjoyed one Genesis Publications’ books will be the first to tell you how beautiful they are. A pair of Genesis’ collector tomes about The Beatles brought handsome prices. A signed copy of George Harrison’s autobiography, “I Me Mine,” sold for $3,000. The finished edition published in 1980 was the first Beatles-related book published by any members of the group. It was printed in a limited edition of 2,000 copies (of which this numbers 1,199), each and every one of which was hand-signed by Harrison.

A mint-in-box deluxe version of Genesis’ “Now These Days Are Gone” sold for $1,100. This leather-bound book offers nearly 300 rare and unpublished images of the Fab Four taken by Michael Peto during the making of “Help!”

If you love Paul McCartney and violin-style Hofner bass guitars, you’ll find plenty on the pages of eBay. But many are simply McCartney-style pieces, and not all of them carry autographs. However, a pair of McCartney-autographed, left-handed Hofners made a splash in online auctions. The first one, whose Sharpie-penned signature was authenticated by Frank Caizzo, sold for $6,500 and came with a nice hardshell case. The second guitar (and we can tell they are two different basses, because there are differences in the images), came with a letter of authentication. It sold for $2,800 after attracting 18 bids.

An obscure flyer from The Beatles’ June 25, 1962, performance at Plaza Ballroom at St. Helens, Lancashire, U.K., attracted 25 bids before closing at $1,808.51. According to the seller, the flyer was from the personal collection of Sir George Martin, which was originally sold at the Music Legends Auction held at The Abbey Road Studios in London in July 2006. Martin had sold 20 rarities from his collection to aid his charitable music foundation, the seller said. Measuring 7-1/2” x 10”, the flyer was described in overall Fine condition, with a professionally restored horizontal tear.

A pair of Beatles posters attracted plenty of attention, too. A “very good condition” original “Let It Be” quad film poster from 1970 printed by Leonard Ripley & Co. sold for $1,275, while a 1966 Candlestick Park concert poster drew $1,242.17.

Two different sellers offered up sets of four Esco Beatles statues recently, in varying condition and for varying results. The first set, described in Near Mint to Mint condition, sold for $1,650. Each statue stands roughly 18 inches tall and weighs about eight pounds, according to the seller. The second set, which sold for $1,575, was described as “absolute mint mint mint” by the seller. The pieces were free of nicks and flaking paint, and even came with their original plain brown boxes, the seller said.

A little less common find was a 28-piece Beatles Zippo lighter collection that brought $825 at auction. The lighters came with three Zippo collector display boxes, red seals intact and never struck.

And nothing says pop-culture phenomenon like getting your mug on a lunch box, right? Well, Beatles fans had two versions to choose from at recent online auctions. A blue vinyl lunch box free of splits and tears sold for $803, which is a bargain considering its Mint-Minus condition. A near-mint specimen of the Beatles’ metal lunch box trailed right behind at $800 — a bargain considering it is mostly free of rust and comes with a Thermos with the original paperwork!

For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• Download our Goldmine Seminar Series: "Learn How to Condition Grade Your Records" (WMV file)
• Get a book on the complicated world of auctions: "The Everything® Online Auctions Book, All you need to buy and sell with success - on eBay and beyond!"
• Check out a download of the Top 50 Vinyl Records