February 9, 1964, marked a historic moment for America when The Beatles had their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was the start of Beatlemania. Today's collectors of Beatles memorabilia are diverse and span across all generations.
There are many online and brick and mortar resources; however, when you before you make a purchase, you should exercise caution. Do thorough research on the item and investigate the reputation of the seller. Serious collectors can find authentic Beatles items online, through auction houses or from private collectors. Some deal in specific categories such as albums or autographs and some specialize in a particular field like entertainment or Hollywood star merchandise. Note that many websites are British websites as the band originated in Great Britan.
- Fab 4 Collectibles emerged 15 years ago by Tom Vanghele, a die hard Beatles Fan who received his first Beatles LP on Christmas Day, 1964 and experienced his first concert the following year. Since then, he studied everything there is to know about the foursome, and has collected since that time. His love of the band turned a hobby into the launch of FAB 4 COLLECTIBLES, where you can find authentic, original Beatles memoribilia, or glean information.
Etsy is a source where individuals sell vintage items. One example is an original 1965 blue metal vintage lunchbox with a lithograph of the Beatles, pictured here.
- Hollywood Memorabilia has a nice selection of Beatles items from which to choose. Their merchandise is listed as 100% certified and authentic. One signed album page is listed for $21,821.99.
- Tracks, LTD is an England-based dealer of Beatles memorabilia has a variety of affordable products that are guaranteed authentic, and valuable links to other sites of interest.
BeatleBay is a great resource that carries reasonably priced vintage Beatles items like posters, greeting cards, even an empty box that held a Yellow Submarine alarm clock listed for $50. ca. 1968. On the higher-priced end, a 1968 original Art Animation Pre-Production STORYBOARD SCENE, ca. 1968, from The Beatles Yellow Submarine motion picture, was listed for $2,495.
- Ruby Lane has an assortment of pins, postcards and other memorabilia at any given time. For example, one is a 39-piece lot of Beatles scrapbook memorabilia listed around $90.
In addition to these resources, you can find more merchandise on Amazon, eBay, auction houses and through private collectors.
The Value of Fab 4 Memorabilia
The value of any collectible relies on the same variables; records have an additional authentication process in addition to the three listed below.
- Condition of items
- Clarity of markings/signatures
- History/ownership: This includes both how far back can it be traced and the name of previous or initial owner.
How to Determine Record Value and Authentication
This information will help you to determine the value of record and help you distinguish between a real or fake LP. Keep in mind, however, you should always seek expert advice.
Experienced music collectors can, with little effort, determine value. The worth of records is based on a variety of factors: The condition, date of release, the producer, the year released, coding, and pertinent signatures. The Beatles produced albums in America and Britain, and although they carried similar titles, some tracks may differ. The studio recordings are the most desirable.
RareBeatles.com gives an example of the several variations you may find for just one Beatles LP, Introducing the Beatles. If you want to know the value of any records, it's important that you first learn the discography of the collection.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines discography as "A descriptive list of recordings by category, composer, performer, or date of release". To learn about discography, you'll need to study resources like The Beatles Bible in depth. It contains a detailed discography on every record and edition recorded in America. You'll also need to know the differences in European discography. Both will help you understand this process.
How to Determine Authograph Value and Authentication
Autographs are also highly sought after.
Value of Autographs
Frank Caiazzo, founder and owner of The Beatles Autographs in New York, is a 29-year veteran signature expert who has published in Autograph Collector Magazine and Beatiology. On his website, he says that "signed albums are the most desirable pieces of Beatles signed memoribilia" are the most sought after, especially American versions released by Capitol Records after 1964 and signed by all four band members. He points out that one example of an extremely scarce album cover is With the Beatles, signed by all four artists, valued at $50,000, numbered SA8, ca. 1964.
Tom Fontaine from Autograph World, 40-year collector and recipient of the UACC Collector of the Year Award, says on his website that "Beatles autographs are probably the most widely forged signatures from the 20th century." He provides seven pages of examples of Beatles signatures listed in chronological order.
Frank Caiazzo agrees with Fontaine that the Beatles' signatures are heavily forged and says that the FAB 4 signatures went through changes, or "autographic identity" throughout their careers. He adds that although forgers are very good, because they manufacture forgeries in bulk, they seem to miss the characteristic differences mentioned above.
To determine authenticity, it's a good idea to seek expert advice and to read about the many changes in signature styles made through the years and to be familiar with the years in which there weren't any autographs when the Beatles were in the studio, or filming.
One website that provides help with determining authenticity and value is Just Collecting. This site focuses on the value of autographs, the hot autographs, and is another resource you can access to get values for Beatles autographs. Peruse through this section for examples of authentic signatures to compare against the item for which you are about to purchase or one that you may have.
- Autographs signed by all four Beatles are selling for £28,000.
- Most valuable living signature and best performing from 2000 and 2015: Paul McCartney: £2,500
- Best performing between 2000 and 2015: George Harrison: £3,750
- Beatles: All four signed £27,500
- Ringo Starr signed photo: £1,250
To find the worth of items other than any listed above, you can use a few different resources.
- Invaluable is a site that lists auction items, upcoming auctions, and list of international auction houses. A couple examples include a set of four 1964 Remco Beatles Dolls with Instruments with bids upwards of $130 and growing and a reel-to-reel film of a 1964 meet and greet on 16mm film with a starting price of $1,000.
- Kovels also lists hundreds of Beatles items and their corresponding values. You can sign up free to access the price guide. Merchandise listed here ranges from $11 to $995.
- The Beatles Yesterday and Today also has a variety of Beatles memorabilia along with estimated values.
Most Expensive Beatles Items Sold
Memoribilia can get expensive depending on condition and rarity.
- The New York Times reported that John Lennon's Rolls Royce sold at a Southeby's auction for a whopping $2 million.
- Julien's Auctions, in Los Angeles specializing in star memoribilia, made a history-breaking sale in 2015 in the amount of $2.41 million for John Lennon's original 1962 J-160E Gibson Acoustic guitar.
- Just one piece of a larger lot of Beatles items sold at a Christie's auction for $1,071,133 -- the legendary, hand-painted drum skin from the front cover of the 1967 top of the charts album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is painted in gold, red, blue, green, pink and magenta on hardboard with a diameter of 30.5". Other items that sold in the lot include a copy of the album, and an authenticating, hand-written letter from Sir Peter Blake.
- A 2013 Time Magazine article reported the sale of a Sgt. Pepper album, signed by all four of the Beatles that sold at Heritage Auctions for $290,500, which exceeded the estimated value of $30,000.
Catch and Collect Beatles Mania
Beatles fans come in all shapes and sizes and are from a multitude of generations. There are just a handful of musical artists who have been able to survive for decades, which makes collecting Beatles memorabilia popular and desirable. No matter what type of item you collect, you should still follow some basic rules: Do your homework, do research on the item and the dealer, website or auction house from which you will buy or sell, limit your collection to a certain category, seek an expert's advice and most importantly, have fun!