FAQ (Frequently asked questions)
Q: What is the "Butcher Cover"?
A : Arguably the most controversial album cover of all time,The Beatles "Butcher Cover" is the infamous original album cover for the 1966 US LP record titled "Yesterday and Today" that was initially authorized and manufactured for release but quickly banned by Capitol records prior to commercial distribution in 1966 due to immediate public outcry and negative response to the outrageous cover art.
The grotesque album artwork featured The Beatles dressed in butcher smocks surrounded by raw meat and decapitated baby doll parts. The butcher scene was deemed far too gruesome and bizarre for general consumption. And this was decades before the term "politically correct" would ever come into existence. Even today, it is extremely difficult to comprehend how even The Beatles were able to get the green light for such controversial album cover art. This very question has fueled countless theories and speculations concerning the reasons and ideas behind the creation and production of the cover. These theories range from a carefully planned publicity stunt, to a political statement on the Vietnam war, to the band's answer to the American record company's policy of shorting the buying public by selling lp's with a few less songs than the British counterparts in order to be able to compile an extra lp every year or so.
The official explanation from the session photographer Bob Whitaker was that the butcher photo was to be part of a series of photos titled " A Somnambulant Adventure". This series was to represent and address various themes of life as well as some of the more abstract notions regarding fame and fortune. These themes were to be developed and expressed through a surrealistic approach using the Fab Four largely as props. Whitaker has stated that not only was the butcher photo supposed to be used in context with the other photos from the series, but that the butcher photo in particular was going to be much smaller and adorned and dressed up in a much different way. Whatever the case, his explanation sounds perfect for a modern art exhibit, but not very feasible for commercial pop album cover artwork in 1966. In a recall letter from Capitol Records dated June 14, 1966, Ron Tepper explained that the album artwork was intended as "pop art" satire and was recalled as a result of possible misinterpretation.
Although the album's distribution was quickly terminated prior to official public release by Capitol, it has been widely reported that some copies of the original album with the offending artwork were sold in stores and purchased by consumers. Estimates of quantities of such commercial sales are nearly impossible to nail down and most likely only amount to several hundred copies here and there at the most. Most of the initial copies of the record with the offending jacket were sent as samples to disk jockeys and record distributors prior to release and the negative response was so swift that a decision was made by Capitol to quickly pull the plug. These initial versions of the album are highly prized by collectors and continue to fetch thousands of dollars in the few instances that they are offered for sale. These are referred to as "First State Butcher Covers".
Even Capitol Records President Alan Livingston personally saved several sealed mono and stereo first state copies of the lp for two decades before giving them to his son Peter who eventually sold them to record dealers at a Beatles Fan Convention in the mid 1980's. These are known as Livingston Butchers and have sold for as much as $40,000 each within in the last decade. Peter Livingston didn't have a crystal ball at the time he hastily sold these, and only reportedly received what top quality investment grade peeled versions sell for these days.
Rather than take a financial bath by destroying hundreds of thousands of copies of the albums in question and starting from scratch by manufacturing completely new cardboard jackets and corresponding cover slicks, Capitol records devised a clever scheme to take the existing jackets and cover just the front of the jacket with the more familiar and socially acceptable cover slick now commonly referred to as the "trunk cover". It is called the trunk cover due to the fact that the Beatles are pictured surrounding a steamer trunk which was used as a spur of the moment photographic prop. Initially, Capitol destroyed a great quantity of the original first state butcher covers prior to implementing the plan to cover the remaining offending jackets with the now more familiar trunk cover as an economical solution to a seriously grim situation. First state butcher covers that have been pasted over by the trunk cover at the Capitol factory are known in the collecting community as "Second State Butcher Covers".
Eventually, Beatle fans figured out that the offending cover was hidden beneath the mundane trunk cover of the first issue copies and began to attempt to remove the cover. Sometimes these attempts were somewhat successful, but more often than not, consumers either seriously damaged or completely destroyed the butcher cover in the process of attempting to remove the trunk slick. Today, there are only a small handful of "professional butcher peelers" that can consistently remove the trunk slick with great results. We place ourselves in that handful having produced hundreds of successful peels over the years. These second state butcher covers that have been peeled are referred to as "Third State Butcher Covers".
Q: How can I tell if my version of Yesterday and Today is a pasteover or Second State Butcher Cover?
A true pasteover butcher cover will obviously show what will look like a upside down black colored triangle in the white area of the Yesterday and Today slick halfway in between the top edge of the steamer trunk(near Ringo's elbow) and the mouth edge (open end where the record goes in). For reference, look at the picture of the front of the Butcher Cover on our home page and look at Ringo's black turtleneck. This is the black triangle which should clearly show through on a true second state. It's fairly obvious and if you don't see it clearly, it isn't a butcher cover. Additionally, there are no butcher covers with the RIAA Gold Record Award emblem on the front cover.
Q:I have a second state Butcher Cover and I want it peeled. I have read on the internet how to peel a butcher and it seems fairly simple. Should I peel it myself?
Well, that depends...Do you drill your own teeth ? And when you do, is the job successful ? All kidding aside, if you are not a Dentist and can pull that one off, then sure perhaps you'll do a great job peeling a 40 year old slick off of an album stored in who knows what temperatures and environment over the years. This is not to say that peeling butcher covers is anywhere as complex as Dentistry, but there are a few professionals out there that know a variety of proven techniques that consistently work in a wide variety of circumstances. We are one of a small handful of persons who consistently turn out excellent quality 3rd state butchers. We consistently remove the trunk slick in one piece which is especially nice when framing both together as illustrated on our front page.
All photos on our site are of actual items we have peeled and sold in the past. While the finer results of the peeling process depends greatly on a number of factors, we have turned out hundreds of investment quality peels over several decades.
On the other hand,one only has to only briefly go onto any of the larger internet auction sites to see multiple butcher covers that have been destroyed by amateur peeling. We frequently receive Butcher Covers that have been damaged by their owners that actually cost them more in the end due to the fact that the item not only may have to be peeled but also professionally touched up due to damaged caused by the failed peel. Keep in mind that any seriously touched up Butcher Cover loses value depending on the severity of the damage caused by such amateur peeling.
When in doubt, our advice is : DON'T BUTCHER YOUR BUTCHER !!!
Q: What is my Butcher Cover Worth ?
A: This varies greatly depending on condition and edition. A sealed stereo first state butcher cover could net as much as $40,000 while a poorly peeled Third State Mono Butcher might only fetch $125.00. If in doubt, it is best to consult a reputable record dealer for a professional appraisal.
Q: I've seen reproductions offered on internet auction sites. How can I be sure that my butcher cover is authentic?
First of all, the best advice is to deal with a reputable dealer that specializes in authentic records when purchasing valuable records such as the butcher album. There are some excellent price guides for reference such as "The Price Guide For Beatles American Records" by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels. This particular guide has a great dealer section in the back of the book. Certain dealers will authenticate your records for a fee.
Q: I've seen some real Third State Butcher covers that look just like First State covers, How can one tell the difference?
There are several tests one can utilize to determine whether or not a butcher cover is really a First State or not. First and foremost, there should be absolutely no evidence of glue residue when looking at the album under a bright light on an angle. Another test for glue residue is to place a tiny piece of slightly wet tissue paper on a part of the cover and let dry. The tissue should easily be blown away on a true first state. If the tissue sticks, then it most likely isn't a first state.
Additionally, there should be no nickle sized circular rings running up the mouth side of the front cover or fine horizontal brush lines across the front of the cover. A true first state butcher should measure slightly wider from spine to mouth than a second state due to the fact that the mouth edge was trimmed after the attachment of the trunk slick. It is probably a good idea to own a genuine Third State prior to investing in a First State for comparison.
Q: I have a Second State Butcher Cover, should I have it peeled ?
This is a highly personal decision although most collectors feel that due to the increasing numbers of peeled butchers, it is a good idea to hold onto a second state due to the constantly dwindling numbers.