George Harrison fans and Beatles music memorabilia collectors won't want to miss Bonhams' upcoming Thursday December 15 sale in Knightsbridge, London.
Among the rare memorabilia items for sale is none other than George Harrison's rare Vox UL730 amplifier and cabinet used for the Beatles 'Revolver' and 'Sgt. Pepper' LP recording sessions. It will be one of the highlights of Bonhams' Entertainment Memorabilia auction on Thursday.
The amp, only recently discovered to have been used by The Beatles, is estimated to sell for £50,000-70,000.
"Very few amps used by the Beatles have come to auction before, and to find one that was used on two such significant albums is truly rare and exciting," said Stephan Maycock, Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia consultant.
"Beatles fans all over the world will be eager to own such an important piece of music history."
Peter Hook, former bassist of UK post-punk bands Joy Division and New Order, borrowed the amplifier from the current vendor in February 2011. The guitarist for Hook's then band needed a vintage amp for a recording session at Blueprint Studios in Salford, UK.
The amplifier developed a fault at the recording session's end. It was subsequently taken to a specialist engineer for repairs. It was as this point that the specialist, upon removing the amp chassis from its case, noticed the name of Beatle 'George Harrison' scratched on the amplifier's chassis.
Further inspection revealed a label on the inside of the speaker cabinet.
Later research unearthed a photograph of both George and The Beatles pictured in the studio with a UL730. The amplifier in Bonhams' music memorabilia sale has similar chalk markings to those seen in the cabinet photographed with George and The Beatles.
Before it's auctioned before collectors on Thursday 15, this amplifier's provenance has been further verified by a member of The Merseybeats who not only used to write the 'Beatles Gear' pages for the monthly magazine 'Beatles Book', but also attended many Abbey Road Beatles' sessions as a guest.
He has also identified this as George Harrison's UL730, as used in The Beatles' sessions.
The UL730 was developed by JMI Vox lead amp engineer Dick Denney and introduced in 1966. The UL730 represented a revolutionary new design at the time, featuring a solid state pre-amp section with a tube output amplifier.
The initial '7 series' models were given to the Beatles in 1966. They were 730s, intended to replace their Vox AC30 amps. It is thought about six of these went to the band in early-1966.
Fellow Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney moved to higher-powered models in the series later that year. Yet George continued using the preferred 730, playing it for both the 'Revolver' and 'Sgt. Pepper' sessions.
Consequently, this rare Vox UL730 amplifier is not only a great piece of memorabilia but also provides a fascinating insight into George Harrison's working practices; whose writing and playing contributions to classic Beatles tunes like 'Taxman' were so vital to the group's mid-'60s era.
Other Beatles items in Bonhams' music memorabilia sale include an autographed black/gold label pressing of the Beatles' debut album, 'Please Please Me' (1963). That will sell estimated at £8,000-10,000.
Interestingly, George Harrison's autograph has risen in value at a higher rate than Beatles group autographs in the past 11 years - presumably due to reappraisals of the guitarist's influence and legacy following his death in 2001.
According to the industry's PFC40 Autograph Index, the average value of a Harrison signed photo rose from £195 to £2,500 in that time (up 1,182.1%) compared to £5,500 to £24,000 for a Beatles group signed photograph (up 336.4%).
Signed records don't always sell for such astronomical amounts, but still bring healthy prices on the private collectors' markets.
A 7" vinyl copy of the group's second single, Please Please Me, taken from the same-titled LP and released in 1963 sold for £9,000 ($14,744) at the Paul McCartney Auditorium in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, earlier this year.
That example was double-signed by all four Beatles, including George.
Other fascinating autograph examples we've encountered here at Paul Fraser Collectibles include this 1963 piece taken from an autograph album. It is signed by three of The Beatles: Harrison, Lennon and McCartney.
Alongside a forgery of Ringo Starr's signature - possibly written by McCartney - Lennon has additionally signed his name as "Benny Higgins (juggler)". It's a singular piece, and we have it for sale priced at just £9,950 - a bargain in comparison to the £24,000 average value of a group autograph signed by all four Beatles.
Meanwhile, Bonhams sale will also offer an unpublished colour film of the Beatles during production of the film 'Help!' (for sale at £7,000-9,000) and a collection of photographs of John Lennon at radio station WFIL, May 1975 (for sale at £6,000-8,000) will also appear.
Watch this space for more news on Bonhams' Beatles music memorabilia sale.