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  • 1963 - a classic year in collecting 50 years on
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • -1963aclassic

1963 - a classic year in collecting 50 years on

1963 was a special year. With the world fast recovering from the depths of the second world war, human kind had not long embarked on one of the most tumultuous decades of the 20th century.

It was a year of upheaval and unrest, yet also one of innovation and creation. In 12 short months, art and design flourished, while the world was beset with political crises. Iconic moments abound. 1963 was a year of firsts, many of which would define the remainder of the decade.

50 years have passed since then, and as we all know, anniversaries can mean big business for collectors. As the world is once again reminded of those standout moments that have become cemented in world history, the market for related collectibles thrives.

Politically, the world - especially the US - was rocked by two major "happenings" of the 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement, both in America and globally, had reached its zenith, and the ultimate expression of the cause came on August 28, 1963, when between 200,000 and 300,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

March on Washington
The view Martin Luther King Jr would have seen as he delivered his famous speech


The march was nothing short of monumental, with Martin Luther King Jr standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech - one of the landmark moments in the history of race relations, and oratory.

The world of collecting commemorated the event with several auctions this year, most notably the sale of Martin Luther King Jr's correspondence, which appeared at Heritage Auctions on October 17, led by a set of cue cards outlining his Dexter Avenue Church farewell address, which sold for $31,250.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is offering a fantastic signed programme from Martin Luther King Jr.

JFK Assassination photographs
In the bottom shot, Kennedy holds his neck just one-sixth of a second after the bullet hit

On November 22, tragedy stuck. US president John F Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as he passed through Dallas.  

The youngest president ever elected in the US, his short-lived tenure had seen some of the defining moments of both American and international politics in the 20th century - the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the early stages of the Vietnam war and beginning of the space race.

Kennedy's memorabilia is among the most sought after of any US president, and auction houses have consigned some remarkable items to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. The wedding ring of Lee Harvey Oswald sold for $108,000 at RR Auction's dedicated sale, while the president's personal rocking chair is to sell at Heritage Auctions on November 23.

Further auction highlights include the last sketch that JFK ever drew, as well as the only known photograph to capture the exact moment of his assassination.

We have a superb range of JFK memorabilia for sale.

Angus McBean photo auction
The Beatles' Please Please Me - released in 1963


As is so often the case in times of turmoil, the music world thrived in 1963. The Beatles hit the scene with the release of their debut album Please Please Me, while the Rolling Stones received their first recording contract from Decca. That's not to mention the release of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the now-legendary musician's second and most influential studio album.

On June 20, RR Auction sold a fully signed copy of Please Please Me for $26,785 in one of many auctions held to mark the 50th year since the album's release. Perhaps the greatest item of Bob Dylan memorabilia, the guitar he played at the Newport Folk Festival, will be offered by Christie's on December 6.

We specialise in Beatles memorabilia. Also see our Rolling Stones items, and this excellent signed set list from Bob Dylan.

Not only did music flourish in 1963, but also film and television. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Elizabeth Taylor's role in the lavish Cleopatra, as well as the very first episode of Doctor Who - both hugely popular among collectors.

Bulgari Cleopatra earring Elizabeth Taylor
The earrings are inspired by Taylor's 1963 role in Cleopatra, one of the most lavish movies ever made


Christie's will celebrate Taylor's defining role with a custom-made pair of Bulgari earrings inspired by Cleopatra, which are selling to benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Buy an authentic strand of hair from Elizabeth Taylor.  

Doctor Who collectors provided strong bids for an Auton mask from the 1970s on eBay, while writer Russell T Davies offered a signed script from the show for charity.

Design was graced with the arrival of the iconic Porsche 911, one of the most recognisable sports cars in the world and a collector's favourite - values for the car were up 7% at the start of this year.

Also appearing was Rolex's classic Daytona watch, a true monument of horological design. Christie's will mark the release of "the world's most celebrated chronograph wristwatch" with a dedicated auction on November 10.

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman prototype
This Rolex Daytona Paul Newman bears a very low serial number with a prototype lemon yellow dial


Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering actor and driver Paul Newman's racing jacket - a superb item from the man who famously had a Rolex Daytona model named after him.

Much of the 50th anniversary celebrations and commemorations in 2013 are now over, resulting in a remarkable year for auction houses and dealers across the world. Collectors will now be looking towards the big anniversaries in 2014 - 100 years since the start of the first world war, 50 years since the Beatles rocked America, the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison - don't say we didn't warn you!

  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • -1963aclassic