One of the reasons I got into this Beatles collecting caper, apart from a love of the music, was that I became fascinated by the band setting up their very own record label – Apple Records.
The Beatles were amongst the first, if not the first, band to do so and (apart from themselves) they signed up an eclectic range of artists to the label.
Their very first releases were marked by the issuing of a limited edition press kit of the first four 45rpm vinyl singles to come out on Apple – which they called “Our First Four”.
In the UK there seems to have been two versions of this.
One was in a stronger, hard plastic outer case. Examples of this version were very limited, and these were hand-delivered to dignitaries like Stanley Gortikov, President of Capitol Records in 1968; to Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace; to her sister Princess Margaret at Kensington Palace; to the Queen Mother at St James’s Palace; and to the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Number 10 Downing Street, London. The plastic box set looked like this:
The other, lower cost version was posted to radio disc jockeys, music journalists and critics. It was in a cheaper, thin black cardboard box.
Both versions contained four singles: The Beatles “Hey Jude/Revolution” (R 5722); Mary Hopkin “Those Were the Days” (APPLE 2); Jackie Lomax “Sour Milk Sea” (APPLE 3); and The Black Dyke Mills Band “Thingumybob” (APPLE 4).
Each single was accompanied by a press release printed on the outside of a coloured folder containing an artist photo and a plastic sleeve to hold the record.
The reason for this post is that a copy of the cardboard “Our First Four” has just sold on Ebay for an impressive AU$6,199 (that’s US$5,700, or £3,643 UK Pounds).
The price it fetched is testament to it’s rarity. And as it is not often seen (and because the listing had such a good selection of photos of the item – showing in detail how the box worked and what was inside), I couldn’t resist reproducing a selection of them here:The Beatles official site has reproduced a nice press advertisement for “Our First Four”.
In the United States the press kit mailed to DJ’s and music journos was perhaps a little less colourful and extravagant, but its contents were definitely as interesting (and collectable). Respected Beatle writer and discographer Bruce Spizer has a great article on the background to this one:
If you had a lazy six grand lying around would you purchase one of these?
Gosh – had no idea this was worth that much. I lived though when no one would even take used vinyl…I worked at ABC TV in LA in the mid 60’s to late 60’s and we were sent every press kit and demo to use for fade from and to commercial breaks. …that was a ‘new’ thing then esp going and coming from talk shows (which were not talk shows – more entertainment and semi scripted – and also we were going the same direction with the local news that we did out of the same studio lot. I walked off the lot home with so many clipped corner LP s – the good ones I would take back and have someone in audio make what then was called a cart – like an 8 track sort of…a cartridge – that’s what was needed in the booth to get the audio into the TV feed. So then back home with me went the vinyl. I also bought maybe 20 LPs a week – they were all of maybe $1.95 to $2.12 each.
I still have all the original first day Beatle Capitol releases…like many, I was in Sears usually to get the new LP the first day it came out. My vinyl got thinned out when CDs came out and I had a few major moves I did. What I kept (maybe 200) LPs I am thrilled I kept and wish I had not tossed some of the ones I did like all the first releases of The Beach Boys and so many that never made it even to CD ever…only place some of them can be found are once in a blue moon on YouTube.
I then after ABC worked at a recording studio in LaLa land…so I had still for all the 70’s and into 80’s more free vinyl then anyone could store in a house….except maybe George with all of Friar Park to use for ‘cold’ (literally) storage!
Anyhow…this little baby is still in my ‘stash.’ I am not sure why as it never fit into the LP storage and I had not collected nor bought singles since the late 50’s…I moved into LPs soon as I got a nice (early) portable (sort of – they called it that but it was a monster and weight a ton)….stereo. From then on it was only LPs I bought..and unlike today, you listened to the whole LP.
Guess I need to hang on to this little number here.
Thanks for the post!
I have an Our First Four set although not in nearly as good condition and minus the Mary Hopkins disc, It was given to me by a boyfriend back in the 60s who worked at Apple. Do you know how I should go about selling it? I would be so grateful for any suggestions.
Hi there, I was wondering if you would have any idea how much one of the single folders would be worth. I have the green one from the coloured set. Just found out it is probably pretty rare but don’t know if there needs to be all four for it to be worth anything! Any info would be great! Thanks!
A single folder, disc and press release would still be a collectable item. Obviously not as valuable as the full set and the packaging it came in (which sell for a LOT of money), but still a valuable item for sure.