When the Beatles catalogue came out on Compact Disc for the first time back in 1987 it was a very big deal and the British record store chain HMV (which has close ties back to the Beatles record company EMI) released a series of limited edition 12” x 12″ box sets to mark the occasion. These boxes look just like those which contain 12″ LP’s so I guess there was a certain symbolism in releasing them in this way – the boxes containing CD’s indicating a move forward from the LP to the Compact Disc.
In all there were 12 individual box sets containing either individual or grouped CD’s, plus there was also a large (and expensive) HMV box housing every Beatle CD title then available.
The box numbered BEACD25 contained “Please Please Me”, “With The Beatles”, “Hard Days Night” and “For Sale” on CD, plus a 224-page book ‘The Book Of Beatle Lists’, plus a Beatles fact sheet.
BEACD25/2 contained “Help”, “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver”, plus a reprint of Beatles Monthly No. 12 and a Beatles fact sheet.
“Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” (BEACD25/3) had the album with a slipcase, an 8-page ‘behind the scenes’ booklet, the 12″ cut-outs sheet and a badge.
The “White Album” (BEACD25/4) featured an individually numbered double CD album, a 12-page glossy booklet and a badge.
BEACD25/5 was “Yellow Submarine” and came with an insert, a cut-out ‘Yellow Submarine’ model, and a fact-sheet, while “Magical Mystery Tour” (BEACD25/6) had a 12-page booklet, a large fold out colour poster and badge.
“Abbey Road” (BEACD25/7) comprised the 17-track CD album, two different posters, a badge and an 8-page booklet.
The “Let It Be” HMV box has a 12-page booklet and badge, and has the catalogue number BEACD25/8.
The “Past Masters Vol.1” and “Vol. 2” came in separate boxes – each with a badge and a 12-page booklet with pictures and track-by-track details. These were numbered BEACD25/9 and BEACD25/10.
Finally, when they were released in 1993 the “Beatles 1962-1966” Red Album and the “Beatles 1967-1970″ Blue Album also came in separate boxes containing the double CD sets, a 12-page colour booklet featuring song reviews, a 16″ x 24” colour poster and a badge. These were numbered BEACD25/11 and BEACD25/12 respectively.
I got a bargain the other day – I was able to get the “Sgt Pepper” HMV box and the “Beatles 1962 – 1966” – both practically mint copies. I’ll give you a close up look at the “Sgt Pepper” box set here, and post on the “62-66” red box next time.
You can see the front of the box above – and it features a different photograph from the one used on the CD. When you take the lid off this is what you first see:
This is an 8-page booklet with lots of photographs taken at the photo shoot for the famous cover of “Sgt Pepper”. There’s also some text about each song. Here are couple of pages from the booklet:
Underneath that there’s the same “Sgt Pepper” cardboard cut-out sheet which came with the original copies of the LP version:
Then comes the CD itself, held in place by a special cardboard holder with a slot just right for the CD and it’s outer cardboard sleeve. There’s a small thumb-slot at the bottom to help you get the CD out:
Also in the box is a small metal pin or badge:
The CD that comes with this is the original release with the cardboard sleeve, booklet with additional info, and an insert that has details of all the faces used in the famous Peter Blake photograph of the band standing with all their heroes:
Inside the lid of the HMV box there’s a limited edition stamped number:
Next post we’ll take a look at the “Beatles 1962-1966” HMV Limited Edition box set.
Thank you for telling me exactly what it was I missed out on due to the extreme high price these commanded back then. It is worth noting that the Abbey Road box featured an alternate cover picture which was also one of the included posters. Anyway, thanks for the effort this took. It is valuable info.
Hi – Do you know how many boxed sets were issued in each release. I was informed that the Black Box (3CD set) was only 1500? This does seem very low. The Red Box was 2500? and then the issues became larger as individual albums
I have a unique collection of boxed set editions that were acquired from a contact at HMV – All boxed sets are numbered 00005 – apparently lower numbered issues 00001 – 00004 went to surviving Beatles or their families ?
I have no proof of that – only what I was told. I personally do not doubt the information , but maybe someone knows otherwise?
Thanks for your question. I don’t have any info at all on the numbers issued for each limited edition title. It would be interesting to know – so if anyone has the details please let us all know.
Those sets with the 00005 numbers sound fantastic. They’d really be worth a lot and great to have in any collection.
Black box had an issue of 2500, yellow sub and the red box 3000.m.m.t 8000 and the rest had a run of 10000 i believe
Thank you for passing on that that information. Really helpful. Cheers.
I have a complete set (all 12 box sets) and 2 of them are numbered over 10,000 (Sgt. Pepper at 010878 and the red 1962-1966 at 12379). All the others fall within the range you mentioned. I just put them all together (now) up for sale on eBay. All the best!
That’s a bit odd because the sources I’ve checked on say that Sgt Pepper had only 10,000 copies printed – but clearly yours is over that mark! The red 1962-1966 (and the blue 1967-1970) are both listed as having 15,000 copies, so I guess that makes sense. Can you send through a link to your Ebay listing?
I had the pleasure to meet and become friends with the late CEO of HMV – Mr Stuart McAllister who was something of a musician himself and had a sixties band based in Essex called Lee Scott & The Roulettes.
He realised what a collector I was and although I had some of the 1987 box sets, He kindly gave me the whole set from his collection all numbered 00005. They are my most treasured items that I have and I believe HMV presented the Beatles, or their surviving partners, with the first 4 of each edition.
As regards the quantities in each edition – I have the following snippet – I cannot remember the source and have no idea if it is accurate:
The first box is the most elusive to track down. Known as the Black Box, it contained the first four albums by the Beatles (all in mono!): Please Please Me, With the Beatles, Hard Days Night, and Beatles for Sale. It was released on February 26th, 1987 and was limited to just 2,500 copies, and it sold for £49.99 which was a small fortune back then.
Following the Black Box came the Red Box which was released on April 30th, 1987 and contained three albums: Help, Rubber Soul, and Revolver. They were all in stereo this time and only 5,000 copies were made.
After that the releases were a single album at a time (always stereo), as follows:
Sgt Pepper: June 1st, 1987 – 12,500
The White Album: August 24th, 1987 – 7,000 copies
Yellow Submarine: August 24th, 1987 – 3,000 copies
Magical Mystery Tour: September 21st, 1987- 8,000 copies
Abbey Road: October 19th, 1987 – 10,000 copies
Let It Be: October 19th, 1987 – 10,000 copies
Past Masters Volume One: March 9th, 1988 – limited edition, numbers unknown
Past Masters Volume Two: March 9th, 1988 – limited edition, numbers unknown
1962-1966: September 1993 – limited edition, numbers unknown
1967-1970: September 1993 – limited edition, numbers unknown
Hi Dave, Thank you so much for sending this information through. Stuart McAllister must have been a very generous person. And to think- having the entire set and numbered 00005! The release number figures you have provided clear up a number of questions for us about how many of each set was released. Clearly Sgt Pepper was 12,500, not 10,000 as previously indicated. An Abbey Road was not 12,500 but 10,000. Thanks again for giving us this story and the additional information.
What an interesting story. Stuart was the best man at my wedding . Eventually we lost touch and I was shocked to hear that he had passed away. Please have you any idea where his family is now as it would be great to get in touch again. I played football with Stuart who was a great guy!
Regards John Parish
Hi John – Stuart’s widow Lynne stayed in the marital home for several years – I don’t know if she still lives there – he also had a son (James) and daughter (Laura) who have I think both married and got children.
I cannot print his former address here on the blog – but if you email me – I am happy to provide it, Regards Dave Keyte firstname.lastname@example.org
Just been digging out my box sets and notice that pepper has number 13649 so a greater run than the suggested 12500
Thanks Hendry. Interesting to have that info. Seems more likely the Sgt Pepper may have been a run of 15,000.
Seems very much like it. Thanks for the reply