Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Beatles - No. 0000etc.

I have a relatively low-numbered American Apple release of the Beatles' self-titled album, nick-named The White Album due to its iconic all-white sleeve. The double LP is, of course, a monumental rock LP and one of the best-loved albums of all time. But what about your copy? Valuable? Of course; it's nearly 80 minutes of The Beatles – but cash? Depends.

Examine the sleeve. The sleeve for the original U.K. only pressings of the White Album is a gatefold with the openings on top of the sleeve, not on the sides (called "Open Top"). Later pressings have the openings on the sides (the American, Capitol manufactured release has the outlets on the sides). The text, "The Beatles," is embossed, not printed, on the front cover; this holds true for both versions. The sleeve has a number stamped in the lower right quadrant. Generally speaking, copies with lower numbers are more valuable. If the number is absent, it's a reissue.

Take both disks out of the sleeve and examine the labels. The original pressing of the LP uses the original Apple Records logo. The outside of a green apple on the A side of each disk and an apple cut in half on the B side. The Apple Records label for the original pressing should also have the Capitol Records logo on the outside edge of the b-side label. Other labels indicate later or foreign pressings.

Find the catalog number on the right-hand side of the label. The catalog number for the first U.K. pressing is PMC 7067/8 for the mono edition and PCS 7067/8 for stereo, with all black inner sleeves. The first American pressing has the catalog number SWBO 101. The record was not released in mono in the United States. The inner sleeves of the American release are white.

The mystery is just how many copies were printed of each number. Nobody seems to have a definitive answer to this question. The first two million copies of the LP (approx.) had an edition number that was not necessarily unique. Copies were numbered utilizing the same system used at all 12 pressing plants (so there are 12 No. 1s, 12 No. 2s, etc. - maybe). Also, due to a dispute over banding (where the space between songs is visible on the record disc), some copies are banded and some are not – even between copies pressed at the same plant. The consensus is that those LPs printed in the U.K. were numbered and had "No." as a prefix, while American pressings eliminated the "No." but added an "A." Lennon got copy No. 0000001 "because he shouted the loudest," at least according to Paul. 

Any Guesses What This is Worth?
The music publisher's name for George's and Ringo's songs was printed "Apple Publishing Ltd." on the first printing and was changed afterward to "Harrisongs Ltd." and "Startling Mus." The albums design and art direction are officially credited to Richard Hamilton, Gordon House and Jeremy Banks, with photography by John Kelly. Paul asked Hamilton to create something that directly contrasted the flamboyancy of Pepper.

While AM has tried to simplify the releases, the numerous presses, as well as versions made and released in countries other than the U.K. and the U.S., make it impossible to provide a definitive clarification. With this kind of mystery involved, it's no wonder that a version marked as No. 0000001, initially owned by John and then Ringo, sold at auction in 2016 for more than $60,000. Your copy? A U.S. release numbered in the millions, $15 - $30. As with all LPs, condition of the cover and vinyl is essential, but any White Album in any condition is worth $5.00 easy - probably $10. 

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