the Beatles' "Butcher Cover"

The Beatles ‘Yesterday & Today’ LP – the infamous “butcher cover.”

The Beatles
Yesterday & Today



The Vintage Vinyl Revival butchers its way onto Ebay!

The Beatles’ butcher cover is a perfect example of rare, collectible, vintage vinyl, and you can bet I’m proud to currently have it in my hands, and to offer it as my very first item for sale on Ebay. The Beatles are a genre of music and topic of study all their own. In fact, there are entire price guides dedicated not just to the Beatles, but to this album! See:

Here’s the full scoop from Wikipedia:

In early 1966, photographer Robert Whitaker had The Beatles in the studio for a conceptual art piece entitled “A Somnambulant Adventure.” For the shoot, Whitaker took a series of pictures of the group dressed in butcher smocks and draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group played along as they were tired of the usual photo shoots and the concept was compatible with their own “black humour”. Although not originally intended as an album cover, The Beatles submitted photographs from the session for their promotional materials. In particular, John Lennon pushed to use it as an album cover. A photograph of the band smiling amid the mock carnage was used as promotional advertisements for the British release of the “Paperback Writer” single. Also, a similar photograph from this shoot was used for the cover of the 11 June 1966 edition of the British music magazine Disc.

In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of Yesterday and Today with the same photograph as “Paperback Writer”. [...] A small fraction of the original covers were shipped to disc jockeys and store managers as advance copies. Reaction was immediate. The record was immediately recalled. All copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its collectability. It has been substantiated that the record was indeed for sale in some stores, including Wallich’s Music City in Hollywood and some Sears stores, in limited areas and probably for only one day.

Capitol initially ordered plant managers to destroy the covers, and the Jacksonville plant delivered most of its copies to an area landfill. However, faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol quickly changed course and decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old one. This new cover, showing the group posed around an open steamer trunk, had to be trimmed on the open end of the album jacket by about 1/8 inch to address problems where the new sheet, known as a “slick”, was not placed exactly “square” on top of the original cover. Tens of thousands of these so-called “Trunk” covers were sent out. As word of this manoeuvre made the rounds, people attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to peel off the pasted-over cover of their copy of the album, hoping to reveal the original image hidden below. Eventually, the soaring prices of Butcher covers spurred the development of intricate and complex techniques for peeling the Trunk cover off in such a way that only faint horizontal glue lines remained on the butcher cover beneath.

Copies that have never had the white cover pasted onto them, known as “first state” covers, are very rare and command the highest prices. Copies with the pasted-on cover intact above the butcher image are known as “second state” or “pasteovers”; today, pasteover covers that have remained unpeeled are also becoming increasingly rare and valuable. Covers that have had the Trunk cover steamed or peeled off to reveal the underlying butcher image are known as “third state” covers; these are now the most common (and least valuable, although their value varies depending on how well the cover is removed) as people continue to peel second state covers to reveal the butcher image underneath. The most valuable and highly prized First and Second State Butcher Covers are those that were never opened and remain still sealed in their original shrink wrap. In December 2005 a “first state” copy of the album was sold for $10,500.

In 1987, then-president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston released for sale twenty-four “first state” butcher covers from his private collection. When the original cover was scrapped in June 1966, Livingston took a case of already-sealed “Butcher” albums from the warehouse before they were to be pasted over with the new covers, and kept them in a closet at his home. These albums were first offered for sale at a Beatles convention at the Marriott Hotel near LAX on Thanksgiving weekend 1987 by Livingston’s son Peter. These still-sealed pristine items, which included nineteen mono and five stereo versions, are the very rarest “pedigree” specimen “Butcher Covers” in existence. These so-called “Livingston Butchers” today command prices of $40,000 and up among collectors, the five stereo versions being the most rare and valuable of these.

2 Responses to
“Beatles, the : Yesterday & Today "Butcher Cover"”

  1. Timmy Toogood
    Timmy Toogood Says:


  2. Charlie Essmeier
    Charlie Essmeier Says:

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    I noticed that your page linked to this article: Wikipedia Yesterday and Today

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    Charlie Essmeier

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