Butcher Cover Controversy and Value Today

The Beatles have been famous to the extent that they were adulated by the masses. However, released in June 1966, the Yesterday and Today album’s cover lead to a controversy and The Beatles judgement was for the first time heavily criticised by the media and the masses alike. However, the same image today has become one of the most sought-after pieces of Beatles memorabilia.

The Controversy Behind

The cover snap had The Beatles group dressed up in white coats and they were draped with pieces of raw meat, false teeth and nude dismembered parts from plastic baby dolls. The snap was not meant for the album cover, but the group submitted their shoot photographs from this session for promotional materials and the photo was chosen.

A small amount of the original covers were sent as advanced copies to the disc jockeys and store managers for evaluation. Their reactions have been instantaneous. There were complaints from the dealers that the image is conceived as sick and offending by the people. The image was objected and the artwork was badly received by the people.

Immediately, the records were withdrawn from the market and all promotional material was destroyed. The 750,000 copies with ‘butcher cover’ were pasted over with a new cover of The Beatles around a trunk, since then known as the ‘trunk’ cover.

Butcher worth Millions

Once this manoeuvre was out in public that the copies of the ‘butcher cover’ were ordered back by the record label, the people tried to peel off their ‘trunk’ covers to reveal the butcher cover. The original cover is now a rarity among collectors. It is very popular and in-demand and can fetch you a great price in the market.

The copies that were not pasted over and are still intact are known as ‘first state’ covers. These are very rare and can fetch a very high price. Pasted over covers intact on the butcher cover (unpeeled) are ‘second state’ covers and are very valuable too. Covers that have been peeled to reveal the butcher image are ‘third state’ covers; these are common and not as valuable.

In 1987, the then-president of Capitol records, Alan Livingston offered 24 ‘first state’ butcher covers for sale from his personal collection. These are the rarest specimen of the Butcher cover in existence and command premium prices among collectors.

In 2006, a single sealed mono version butcher cover was auctioned in Dallas for about $39,000. You can imagine the craze by this figure.

Thus, the butcher cover that was initially in such controversies is now among the most sought-after possessions around the globe.



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  1. chris
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I think ive got a 1st state butcher cover in mint cond. Unsealed… how can i tell for sure

  2. colleen
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I have in my possession…both of the albums..then and now….butchers cover and the trunk cover….both are separated at seams and a few scuff marks on them…how would i and where and who would i take them to to have them appraised. They belonged to my late husband who has been gone for 23 years now…. need some help here

  3. colleen
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    what does unsealed mean

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