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VALUE MY ITEM
My name is Mark Naboshek and I own one of the largest collections of original Beatles
memorabilia in the United States. I live in North Dallas and have been a Dallas resident
since 1958 (when I was 6), and am an expert in concert tickets and programmes, as
well as collectable Beatles toys.
I am a first-generation Beatles fan and have been a Beatles collector since starting college in the fall of 1970. In the years since then, I’ve amassed a personal collection of over 6,000 vintage Beatles items which ranges from fan magazines, books and records to toy memorabilia, autographs and other one-of-a-kind pieces. I’ve written numerous feature articles for Beatlology magazine (a 4-color publication out of Toronto) and other publications and have also contributed to over a dozen books related to The Beatles and John Lennon. I wrote the booklet that accompanied “Beatles ‘64: Goin’ To Kansas City”, a CD set issued in 2005 which documented The Beatles’ 1964 visit to that city.
When Liverpool’s Beatle City exhibit traveled to Dallas for 5 months in August 1987, I was heavily involved in the museum, writing the exhibit brochures and signage as well as loaning numerous pieces from my collection. I also loaned a key piece from my collection to the Experience Music Project in Seattle for a period of 15 months in 2004-05. Additionally, I was a credited contributor to “The U.S. Vs. John Lennon” (a theatrical documentary film feature released by Lionsgate Films in 2006) as well as an October 2005 John Lennon segment on “Dateline: NBC”.
Over the years, I’ve been the local Dallas “Beatles expert” and have appeared on all the local stations through the years as well as on several local radio shows, most notably George Gimarc’s now-defunct “Lost Tapes” show on KRLD. I have been featured several times in the Dallas Morning News and the late Dallas Times Herald and have often been contacted by the local media whenever big Beatles news breaks.
Throughout the years, I’ve met or had personal mail contact with five original Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Pete Best. While I have items relating to sixth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, he passed away in 1962 when I was 10 so I had no contact with him.
Now about my collection:
It is housed in a room I built onto my home in 1990 and is set up much like a museum, with everything on display. My primary area of interest is pre-fame Beatles artifacts dating from their childhoods to their formative years as a group (1960-1962) just prior to their worldwide acclaim. The earliest Beatles-related pieces I have are two of John Lennon’s original school photos, one dating from 1946-47 (when John was 6) and one from 1951-52 (when he was 11). I obtained these from one of his classmates, Michael Hill (who also appears in both pictures). Michael was the man who turned John Lennon onto rock ‘n roll in the mid-1950s with his collection of rock ‘n roll 78’s (which were too expensive for most kids to buy). Lennon and a couple of other classmates used to go to Michael’s house several times a week during school lunch breaks and listen to Michael’s records. It was here that Lennon first heard many of the artists that would inspire him. I bought and now own the cream of Michael’s 78s — the very ones Lennon listened to as a teenager (1955-56).
I am also good friends with Paul McCartney’s best friend from his teen years, Ian James. It was Ian James who taught Paul how to play the guitar in 1956-57. Ian was a proficient guitar player and Paul McCartney didn’t know how to play, so Ian taught him his first chords on his (Ian’s) guitar. I helped Ian sell this guitar at auction last year and it fetched over a half-million dollars. In 1956-57, Paul and Ian used to wear matching outfits and bicycle around to traveling fairs in Liverpool with their guitars in an effort to pick up girls. They envisioned themselves as the British Everly Brothers. When they failed to attract attention, they’d get depressed and would go back to Ian’s house and put on an Elvis 78 r.p.m. Recording of “All Shook Up” (which was at the top of the British charts). To this day, McCartney still talks about playing Ian’s “All Shook Up” 78. For helping him sell his guitar last year, Ian gave me this record so I now have it in my collection.
I also have an original April 1956 panoramic school photo from the Liverpool Institute High School showing 13-year-olds Paul McCartney and George Harrison among 300 other students. Framed below this photo on my wall is an original panoramic class photo from May 1957 from Quarry Bank High School showing John Lennon just two months after he started his first group The Quarrymen. He’s standing with Michael Hill as well as members of the Quarrymen.
My prize artifact is the original John Lennon handwritten set list used onstage at The Beatles’ first-ever American concert in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1964 — two days after their live American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. This is essentially a piece of notepaper from the Shoreham Hotel (where they stayed in Washington) on which Lennon has written out all 12 songs they played at the concert. This was taken to the show from the hotel by Paul McCartney. In the film of the concert, McCartney can be clearly seen at the start of the show taking this list out of his pocket, unfolding it and placing it atop one of the two Vox amplifiers on stage. McCartney referred to this list throughout the show to remind himself (and the others) of the songs they were to play. It can be seen in the concert footage as well as in numerous still photos from the show. There are fewer than 10 known authentic Beatles set lists and mine is the most visually documented and historic of them all. In 2004-05, I loaned my set list to the Experience Music Project in Seattle for their 40th anniversary Beatles exhibit, the most successful exhibit in the museum’s history.
With 90% of the Beatles autographs on the market known to be forgeries, I’m proud to say I have four genuine Beatles autograph sets, each with all four Beatles autographs:
1) Set from April 5, 1962 signed by John, Paul, George and Pete Best (the drummer before Ringo) at the famous Cavern Club on the back of the free handout given that night to attendees at the Cavern.
2) A piece of notepaper from the Cabana Motor Hotel in Dallas, signed for Stephanie Pinter, the Dallas fan club president. She was in their Cabana hotel room for 3 hours the night they arrived in Dallas. Manager Brian Epstein had arranged the meeting and he gave Stephanie his pen and the notepad (with the Cabana logo on it) and told her to get their autographs. She got all four to sign and then went to Brian and asked him to sign it. So the notepaper has all five on it — signed right here in my hometown of Dallas on September 18, 1964! There’s even a photo of Stephanie standing with the Beatles in that room and in the photo, Stephanie’s holding the autographs!
3) A BOAC flight menu with “Beatles Bahamas Special” on the front with a gold embossed crest for BOAC. Inside is the food menu. All 4 Beatles signed the cover for a flight steward on March 10, 1965 on the flight from the Bahamas back to England after filming for HELP! Two days later, they flew to the Alps for more filming.
4) Set of four Beatles autographs signed in 1969 on the title page of the Hunter Davies biography (1968), the most famous book published on them in the 1960s. It was signed for Carol Bedford, the American Apple Scruff who happened to be from Dallas. It’s one of very few known sets from 1969. Carol got George to sign it at Easter in ‘69 at his home in Esher and she got the other three on the steps of Abbey Road as they were leaving the studio following sessions for the Abbey Road LP. Next to the set list, this is probably my most valuable piece.
In addition to these vintage Beatles autograph sets, I have a collection of items relating to Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles’ original bass player (1960-61) who tragically died at age 21 in 1962 months before the Beatles gained any fame in Britain. His life and days with the Beatles were the subject of “Backbeat”, a theatrical film release from 1994. I own two handwritten letters he wrote home from their tenure in Hamburg in the fall of 1960 as well as two sketches he did in Art School. (Stuart was a promising young artist.) Items from Stuart are very rare.
I also have numerous authentic signatures of the solo Beatles from various times throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Most of these were obtained through the mail or in person. I even sent out individual Q & A sheets posing questions to John, George, Ringo and their producer George Martin. They each answered my questions by hand and signed the page.
My autograph collection also includes signed first editions of John Lennon’s two books “In His Own Write” (1964) and “A Spaniard In The Works” (1965) as well as signed books from Paul, George, Ringo and first drummer Pete Best.
My “pre-fame” Beatles collection includes a number of items from the Beatles’ fledgling days in Liverpool — when they were no more than a local band. This includes programs, handbills and tickets for shows at local Liverpool clubs and church halls as well as a very early Beatles business card dating to 1960. I also have several issues of Mersey Beat, a publication that concentrated on the local Liverpool music scene in the early 1960s. These newspapers are dated from 1961-1962 and include the second-ever issue. This June 1961 issue features the first-ever cover story on The Beatles (about their signing to Polydor records) and a photo of all five original members of the group (including Stu Sutcliffe).
I also own the original of one of the earliest photos ever taken of the group after they changed their name to The Beatles -- an one-of-a-kind Polaroid showing John Lennon (age 19), Paul McCartney (age 18), George Harrison (age 17), Pete Best (age 18) and Stuart Sutcliffe (age 20) at a bar in Hamburg on September 28, 1960. It has been captioned on the reverse side by Stuart himself.
One of my latest acquisitions is an original photo booth picture that John Lennon took of himself in 1959 or 1960 in which he looks much like a 1950s rock ‘n roller with slicked back hair. On the back, John has handwritten a short description of his appearance in the photo: “Me Cross-Eyed”.
Another early Beatles-related item I have is an original EXIT sign from St. Peter’s Church Hall in Woolton, Liverpool, the site of the first meeting of Lennon and McCartney on July 6, 1957. This EXIT sign (which dates back to the 1920s) was within 15 feet of the two at the moment they met on that historic day.
The vast majority of my Beatles collection consists of hundreds of vintage pieces, including a large assortment of vintage toy memorabilia from 1963-68 (which takes up a large U-shaped section of shelves); a collection of very rare concert programs that pre-date their first trip to America (1962-63); a collection of nearly 40 Beatles North America concert tickets (1964-66); assorted concert tickets and programs from England, Australia, the Philippines and Japan (1964-66); a Beatles record collection consisting of 500-600 LPs and over 200 45s; original promotional posters for their LPs and movies; original national magazines and fan magazines devoted to the group; awards; and original promotional retail displays.
My collection also includes a case which features memorabilia from their visit to Dallas on September 18, 1964 — concert tickets, press conference press pass, newspapers, photos, KLIF radio “Beatle Brigade” sweatshirt and pennant, autographs, carpet piece from their hotel room, etc.).
My Beatles collection is wide and varied and runs the gamut from truly one-of-a-kind historic pieces to more common mass-produced items like fan magazines. While I have a few newly-produced items, the vast majority of what I have dates back to the 1960s and is original memorabilia from the era when they were still an active band.