A trend in Beatle collecting that has been gaining momentum for the past 8-10 years is that of acquiring concert ticket stubs and, if possible, unused tickets from Beatle's concerts.
Often times the concerts sold out so fast that everyone who wanted to go simply couldn't. Due to the age of some of today's collectors, it was never possible to have seen this band live because the collectors weren't even born yet! A Beatles concert was a very special 'event'. We say event in parentheses because more often than not, even though you attended, and MAY have seen the boys with the help of binoculars, it was virtually impossible to actually HEAR them playing or singing. Small amplifiers, or outdated P.A. systems that were sometimes utilized, were simply too inadequate to hear the band over the screaming thousands in the crowd. Although a lot of die hard fans wish they could have seen their idols, the next best thing became collecting souvenirs from a show.
Unlike today's concerts, where everything from T-shirts to hats are sold, very few items were available at a Beatle's concert. There were programs and the occasional cloth pennant but precious little else. Therefore ticket stubs became a great memento and keepsake of the attendee's night.
Before getting into the 'meat' of ticket collecting, a few important points should be made regarding categories that are already noted elsewhere on this site: Rarity, condition, desirability and so on.
Let's start with the Desirability aspect of ticket stub collecting. We all know that 1964 was the first year that The Beatles set foot on U.S. soil. After their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show February 9th, they played the Coliseum in Washington DC. This was their first 'major' concert and as such, ticket stubs to this event are quite desirable for that very reason. Other than playing a benefit at Carnegie Hall in NY, then at the Deauville Hotel for another taping of the Ed Sullivan show, they didn't perform again in the States till summer, when they returned for a very successful U.S. tour.
Stubs from this 1964 tour are also very sought after due to this being the bands first 'full on' concert tour, covering approximately 6 weeks from early August into late September.
Besides the DC show mentioned above, another milestone in the Beatle's career was when they played to a sold out show in New York's Shea Stadium in August, 1965. This was the first time a rock group ever performed in a stadium in an effort to assuage the huge numbers of fans who wished to see their idols 'live'.
Another sought after ticket or stub, is for the very LAST time The Beatles ever performed to a paying crowd . . . in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. This gig was at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA on August 29, 1966. The show was not a sellout and there are unused tickets occasionally seen for this historic 'Grand Finale'.
Grading: When it comes to the grading of ticket stubs, this can be a rather tricky proposition. Keep in mind, there was probably a young, very excited teenager, clutching his or her ticket for dear life. [Maybe even hours before the show!] Therefore it is not uncommon to find considerable bends, folds, creases, or other wear on these collectibles. Also, many were 'preserved' by taping or gluing them into scrapbooks. Tape residue or a missing piece of ticket, often resulted once removed from said scrapbook. Sometimes stubs were even stapled into scrapbook! And let's not forget those annoying little pinholes from being tacked up on a bulletin board.
Another problem we've seen is writing, especially on the backs of tickets. We've seen quite a few with The Beatles set list jotted down, names of people who attended the show with the ticket holder or even what the weather was like that day! Unfortunately, just like writing on a picture sleeve or LP jacket, this 'penmanship problem' does detract from the ticket's overall value. Of lesser note is corners that may no longer be sharp or some fading from persons who displayed their tickets in a frame out in the daylight. Nevertheless, a stub's condition must be given careful consideration regardless of the above mentioned issues caused by the 'excitement factor' or 'archival method' of preservation. If a stub is flat, carefully torn at the perf and exhibits sharp corners, it is going to be closer to the VG++ to NM- [MK 16-19] side of the grading scale.
When it comes to collecting within our field, it is important to remember this. There is no such thing as 'It's really nice for its age'! We already KNOW that these records, sleeves and memorabilia are vintage 1960's items. This is NOT an excuse for selling or offering substandard condition items by using age as an excuse. They MUST be graded according to the guidelines set forth and not given some kind of special consideration because they are 'old'. Can you image an antique dealer saying 'Yeah, the table has scratches and is marred BUT it is from the 1920's'. This is already a known fact and does not make a damaged item more acceptable. We have seen too many ticket sellers, especially on ebay, state 'The ticket is excellent to near mint, EXCEPT for the creases, pin holes and tape residue'. This is NOT a Near mint item then. We collectors realize that it was probably in a young teen's hands, possibly sat on during the concert, taped or stapled into a scrap book etc. These flaws must be given due consideration and its value/condition deducted accordingly. ANY flaws detract from the items condition - period.
Scarcity: This is a somewhat arbitrary area when it comes to tickets and stubs. Certainly ANY ticket or fragment of stub from the Ed Sullivan appearance in '64 would be of greatest value. The theater's 700 seats sold out instantly and thousands of requests were denied due to the limited number of seats available. Another very rare stub would be the Carnegie Hall performance in 1964. In general, the number of tickets will be determined by the size of the venue so any of the smaller places The Beatles performed would be considered 'scarce'.
Color & Picture: Numerous different styles and colors of tickets were produced for the '64, '65 and '66 shows: the 3 years the Beatles toured the United States. Some showed very little information on them and at times their name 'The Beatles', may not even be present on the remaining portion of the stub. It was retained by the venue as a receipt. All one may have is the month, date and year to identify it as being a 'Beatle relic'. These are typically the least desirable variety but still bring fairly good money.
Some tickets were much more elaborate. They were larger in size and showed a black & white picture of 'the boys' on them. These are the most desirable due to their overall appearance for display purposes. The 1964 and '65 shows were, for the most part, all sellouts. For this reason, very few unused tickets exist from these 2 years. The 1966 tour showed a slight decrease in attendance at some places [due in part to Lennon's famous comment on Christianity!] and there are often small quantities of unused tickets around from this year's shows. When it comes to full/unused tickets, this is kind of like 'The Holy Grail' of ticket collecting.
Getting anything in the best condition possible is what we collector's are aiming for. Let's face it, a stub has been 'used', a FULL ticket is considered 'new'. It's sort of like a VG+ album or an unopened one, in collector mentality. Which would you prefer? So it stands to reason that an unused ticket from a 1964 or '65 concert WITH The Beatle's picture on it, is worth many, many times what a 1966 stub, minus a Fab photo on it, would be worth. That said, a lot of us shoot for a variety of stubs from the first 2 years and may try to collect a few unused tickets from 1966. Unused tickets from the Shea Stadium show in '65, which features a Fab photo and is a fairly large size, are very few and far between. They have brought over $3,000 at auction.
The most famous batch of unused tickets and easiest to locate, is from the Suffolk Downs Racetrack in Boston, Massachusetts. As unlikely a venue as a horse racing track may seem, it was apparently very affordable to the promoter. However, he failed to mention to the printer that tickets needn't be made for ALL of the seats, since the back of the stage would block out the view to hundreds in the stands.
Sometime during the 1980's, a large cache of these unused tickets was discovered by the original promoter's assistant. These have filtered out to collectors over the past 2 decades and at any given time can be seen for sale, either on set sale lists, or ebay.com. They were printed on 8 different colors of stock for the different seating areas in the venue. White and yellow are the most common, with the salmon and mustard colors being the hardest to locate.
Other venues covering the touring years also have minor variations to them. Like anything, the fewer there are, the more desirable/sought after they will be to collectors. Which of course translates to . . . highest priced. Because of the dozens of venues that The Beatle's performed at during their 3 years of touring the U.S, we will try to cover only a sampling of ticket prices from those years on this site. More may be added in the future. Again, like the other items featured on this site, we are attempting to cover only the U.S. tickets/stubs for now. UK tickets and stubs from The Beatles earlier years, especially 1961 and 1962, are quite rare and highly desirable. 1963 and '64 tickets are as well, and have been catching up, price wise, to their U.S. counterparts.
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