Mono Vs. Stereo
Stereo 2nd state versions are said to have been produced in far smaller quantities than the mono counterparts (pictured on the home page). A ratio of 1 to 5 (one stereo version produced to every five mono versions) has been reported. Although Mono would eventually be completely phased out, The Beatles would produce three more lp's (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour) in mono before completely abandoning the format. England was even slower than the US in facilitating the demise of the mono format. Mono collectors still seek out the legendary powerful mono mix found on the original UK pressings of the White Album.
There were those who quickly and openly resisted the inevitable demise of mono and subsequent format change from Mono to Stereo.
Legendary Producer Phil Spector was one of the first to publicly thumb his nose at the format by starting his own "Back To Mono" campaign complete with bright red campaign buttons which he continued to wear for decades !
Brian Wilson, who was heavily influenced by Phil Spector's trademark production style and self proclaimed symphonic "Wall of Sound", was another famous artist and producer who also championed the cause for Mono. His mono mix of the legendary Beach Boys LP "Pet Sounds" is another true gem in the mono treasury.
Even today, the mono format refuses to die as evidenced by the many countless quantities of classic 60's lp's that are continuously reissued on compact disc with both Mono and Stereo versions on one cd.
So what does all this have to do with the Butcher Cover ? Well, for one thing, the stereo version is more valuable than the mono, Depending on what price guide you adhere to, the price difference can be $500.00 or more. Keep in mind that counterfeit stereo versions far exceed mono counterfeits !
For some collectors, the colorful dark banner at the top of a stereo butcher cover that exclaims "Full Dimensional Stereo" is very appealing. Perhaps, this very banner in addition to the official Capitol Records logo (which lies just beneath it in the top left hand corner) juxtaposed against the outrageously grotesque cover makes the whole package just that much more absurd. In other words it's as if they are saying: " your bloody meat is now available in FULL DIMENSIONAL STEREO ! " Not unlike a horror show billboard !
Makes one wonder what was in the water at the Capitol Tower on the day the artwork was presented for the final production ok. Then again this is THE BEATLES we're talking about !
Variations In Printing
Not a whole lot has been written over the years about the significant variations in the printing and cropping of the original butcher covers other than the well known color variations between west coast and east coast pressings. The most obvious differences are that the west coast stereo versions have a gray stereo banner and the east coast have a purplish top stereo banner. Additionally,there has been some prior discussion regarding the fact that flesh tones on the east coast versions have a more pronounced reddish tint than the west coast versions.
What hasn’t been discussed as much is how the colors and cropping on different copies can vary dramatically.The differences that we’ve seen are occasionally far more pronounced. We’ve seen overly reddish east coast mono examples as well as mono versions that clearly show a top section of the bench underneath John Lennon which we believe was supposed to be cropped out of the photo. Obviously, less of the butcher image was used on the stereo versions due to the incorporation of the stereo banner at the top of the jacket so this is largely a mono phenomenon. Many collectors may assume that some of these wilder variations appear to be counterfeit copies, but they are not.
On the subject of printing variations, it should be noted that the actually printing paper used in the printing process was a unique paper that was never used on any other Beatles album. Evidently, it was Capitol artist George Osaki who decided to combine this special textured paper with a high dot matrix printing of the photo to give the cover the look of a painting on a canvas. When we refer to a high dot matrix printing we mean that the various dots which make up the photo are of a larger and more obvious size which gives the photo a much different look. We’ve been contacted by many collectors who are alarmed when they see a butcher cover in their hands with the high dot matrix. It is not unlike the look of a counterfeit sports card under a 10x magnification, however the high dot matrix is not indicative of a counterfeit butcher cover. The combination of the two elements of textured paper and high dot matrix printing seemed to work well in the end.
Scams and Fakes
In this age of high tech scanners and color copiers, there has been a huge increase in butcher related reproductions and counterfeits. While some of these items are strictly produced and sold as "fantasy" items, others are produced and distributed strictly to take advantage of unsophisticated buyers. This is not unlike any of the other well known Beatle related counterfeits such as the fake Decca My Bonnie 45's or phony Vee Jay Portrait Covers.
The Butcher Cover itself has been reproduced for several decades and the most legendary quality reproductions came out of Japan in the 1990's. While these reproductions may look great to the average record collector, they are fairly easy to identify to anyone who has had any experience examining genuine butcher covers. For example, some of these came with reproduction stereo #5 lp's which have obvious label variations. The weight, feel and overall look of the cardboard jackets is also not quite right. While most legitimate dealers sold these for a premium price and correctly specified them as reproductions, there were some folks who have tried to pass these off as genuine 3rd or even 1st state butcher covers. They may just remove the plastic inner sleeve and reproduction record and insert a legitimate west coast pressing and inner sleeve in its place. This is not to say that there are some inexperienced sellers that might have obtained one of these and mistakenly tried to get big bucks while actually believing it is the real deal. The sad truth is that unfortunately, there are plenty of people who won't think twice about trying to take advantage of you in this type of situation. The best defense is to be educated before you buy. Hopefully, some if the information on this page will help in avoiding such scams and fakes.
One of the most common issues is the constant listing on internet auction sites of stock mono and stereo trunk covers that are listed incorrectly as "2nd state butcher covers". Most of these listings are probably made by inexperienced people just listing their records who don't know what to look for or how to correctly identify a genuine 2nd state butcher cover. How to correctly identify a 2nd state butcher cover is explained in detail in the FAQ page of this website. Again, while most may be innocent of intentional fraud, there are plenty out there who intentionally try to put this type of scam over on unsuspecting buyers.
The other thing we have frequently seen is the selling or misrepresentation of 3rd state (peeled) covers as 1st states. Believe it or not, I once witnessed a dealer at a record show try sell a customer a "1st state" which was an obvious LA #6 3rd state (peeled). This particular seller was not a beginner and someone who really should have known better. While I gently tried to explain the truth, the dealer was unconcerned and there was not much more I could do. Fortunately, the interested buyer also knew better and was only trying to uncover the obvious misrepresentation. This particular piece was an obvious amateur peel with tears to the cover and the telltale #6 glue rings visible on the side of the lp cover near the mouth opening. Once again, if you are unsure how to tell the difference between a genuine 3rd state and 1st state, this is explained in detail in the FAQ page of this website.
Another unbelievable situation personally encountered and verified by an independent and qualified expert was the internet sale of a phony second state comprised of genuine Capitol parts. Sound unbelievable ? Well read on….
Here’s the scam and how it probably came about. Somebody purchases a decent 2nd state butcher cover and tries their hand at peeling it….It doesn’t go so well and it looks pretty bad when they are done. Now they are pretty troubled at the fact that they just flushed 95% of their investment down the drain. Then they get a brilliant idea to buy one of those butcher covers from thebutchercover.com with the trunk slick removed in one piece. Once they get the nicely peeled butcher with the nice removed trunk slick, they simply glue the nice trunk slick over their horrible peel job and sell it on the internet as an unmolested 2nd state butcher. Until the piece gets peeled (if it ever does) no one is the wiser. Does this sound far fetched ? Well yet again, this has been personally witness and verified.
While some of these examples are really treacherous, most people (even amateur sellers) are honest and have good intentions and these examples are exceptions more than the rule. The most common issue on internet auction sites is the instance of common trunk covers being sold as 2nd state Butcher Covers. This happens frequently and one has to be very careful when purchasing a 2nd state from an unknown source.
Just like any other investment, there are risks involved and it pays to be informed before you purchase. When it comes to purchasing high priced investment grade records, it really pays to deal with experienced dealers who have a great track record.
Which Came First ? The Trunk or Butcher Cover Photos ?
Ever since the release of Yesterday and Today, there has never been a clear story regarding the relationship and timeline between the Butcher Cover and the Trunk Cover photo sessions and which came first.
Bruce Spizer’s exhaustively researched book: The Beatles Story On Capitol Records has shed a great deal of light on the subject and provides credible evidence that the trunk cover was not hastily photographed, as many folks thought, immediately after the Butcher Cover production run and subsequent test market fiasco. The book goes on to hypothesize that the Butcher photos were taken after the trunk session. Contrary to this hypothesis, there is now clear photographic evidence that the Butcher photo session actually took place prior to the Trunk Cover photo shoot. While Spizer’s book explains that according to Tony Barrow, the trunk cover photo session took place at Brian Epstein’s office, the theory that the Trunk Cover session took place before the Butcher Cover session is simply impossible. There are several genuine outtakes of the trunk cover photo session floating around and one photo in particular clearly shows Ringo and George eagerly examining several enlargements of various shots from the Butcher session. Ringo has what appears to be several photos in his right hand and one visible Butcher photo in his left while George clearly has one large Butcher photo in his left hand and the right hand open obviously waiting for Ringo to pass him another.
This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Trunk Cover session took place after the Butcher Cover session. It also proves that the two sessions were probably taken fairly close to one another and most likely before any decision was made to use the Butcher photos for anything.
Grading and Value
In order to determine the value of any Butcher Cover, proper grading is essential.
It seems nearly every week, an internet auction appears that screams : " Beatles Butcher Cover Mint". More often than not, the purchaser of such an item will be disappointed.
As with sports cards fresh from a factory pack, mint doesn't really exist. There are always flaws that exist from factory handling or machine errors that cause an item to be in less than mint condition even when coming fresh off of the factory line. This is why most price guides only go as high as Near Mint in the grading columns.
Condition is a major factor when considering value and unfortunately the practice of overgrading is far more prevalent than undergrading in the world of record collecting. The reason is simply that most folks want the most out of their items and may just relax their grading standard in order to maximize profit. Regardless, it is often obvious to the naked eye when overgrading occurs on album jackets when clear photos are provided.
A Near Mint album jacket should not have any major staining, writing, tears etc. It may have a minute bit of wear or marking but nothing serious. Once staining, seam splits, wear or tear appears, the record jacket jumps down to the VG+ to VG- category. Grading within the VG range really depends of the severity and quantity of the flaws involved. Too may severe problems and the grading drops down to the Fair to Good range.
Additionally, when grading a peeled or 3rd state cover, there is an additional grading consideration, which is the actual grading of the peel job. As we have discussed before, this can range anywhere from fantastic to tragic ! The good news is that even the crummiest butcher covers seem to be worth at least $100. The reason seems to be that many folks are just so fascinated by the album and are willing to pay for even the most butchered of butcher covers.
When grading a peeled butcher cover, the grading is largely determined by the success of the removal of the trunk cover. Touch up and factory glue residue should be minimal even though some butcher covers may present a challenge for even the most skilled professional peeler. There is often damage to the cover that has occurred at the factory level from the actual application of the adhesives and trunk cover. This may be seen on #6 butcher covers as faint round vertical rings running down the right side of the jacket near the mouth opening. On #2, #3 or #5 covers, this may be seen as horizontal lines running across the jacket. The more professional the peel, the less one will see of these markings. Unfortunately, some of these near flawless peels are attempted to be sold as 1st state covers. Be aware of this and what to look for before even seriously considering purchasing a 1st state butcher.
Almost everybody has heard the phrase : "a collectible is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it". While this may be true to a certain extent, in relation to the Butcher Cover, the demand has remained constant and strong for over 40 years. Additionally, the demand for top quality or blue chip examples is only rising as such examples become more scarce. A blue chip example might be a sealed or near mint 2nd state Butcher Cover or near mint 3rd state Butcher Cover.
As in the real estate market, the phrase: "condition,condition,condition" is just as important when considering the sale or purchase of any butcher cover. We highly recommend the purchase of a reliable price guide such as : "Price Guide For The Beatles American Records" by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels at the very least to get a baseline idea of values when considering the purchase or sale of any Beatles record.
To Peel Or Not To Peel
That is the question...Many record collectors have strong feelings one way or another on this particular subject.
When one considers the overwhelming amount of peeling that has been done to the remaining finite supply of 2nd state butcher covers over even just the last 10 years, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the amount of peeled butcher covers will soon significantly outnumber the unpeeled butcher covers if that isn't already the case.
From a wide and voluminous sampling of auction site offerings over the last decade, it appears to be clear that the badly peeled butchers seem to far outweigh the professionally peeled butchers. There is certainly no shortage of butcher covers that have been damaged by amateur peeling. Unfortunately, 2nd state or pasteover butcher covers continue to be butchered everyday. Our response is always the same: Don't butcher your Butcher !!
With all that in mind, yes, it is always better to preserve a 2nd state than
damage a butcher cover with an amateur peel. Of course, our opinion about true NM 2nd states with original shrink-wrap intact has never changed : "when in shrink.. you've got to think". This can differ in cases when the shrink is broken and perhaps there are some light stains etc. In general, really choice, white , clean 2nd states don't show up all that often and we agree that it is often wise to keep these as is. Also, one has to be careful, as many 2nd state butchers have been re-shrink wrapped at some point.The good news is that this is often obvious by visible ring wear and other marks and dirt that appears under the shrink. The trouble usually is, that with pictures on the Internet, one can't always see this, so it pays to ask questions first.
The trunk cover in comparison to many of the other great Beatles album covers cannot be considered anywhere near their greatest album cover. In fact, many folks over the years have commented that it is a rather mundane photo to say the least. From all the known information and photographs relating to the trunk cover shoot , it was a hastily assembled off the cuff session that took place in an office setting prior to any final approval of use for the butcher photos.One of the reasons this is known is because there are outakes of the trunk photo session where the Beatles are photographed examining enlargements of some of the butcher shots.
With that being said, why all the interest and fascination in a 2nd state butcher cover when all you can see is the trunk cover and perhaps the upside down black triangle of Ringo's black shirt peeking through? Perhaps it's the hidden treasure concept. Still, our general feeling is that especially with those who don't own a butcher cover, given a choice between a 2nd state and a professionally peeled 3rd state, a majority of folks will purchase the professionally peeled butcher. If you really want to look at the trunk cover, you can always purchase a trunk cover as there are millions of them out there ! It all comes down to a matter of personal preference and not everybody likes the same thing.
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