Jesse Barron is a collector of musician-based memorabilia with a heavy focus on The Beatles. We talked recently about his love for the Fab Four, and Jesse provided some great advice and thoughtful insight into his collection of their ephemera.
ephemera: When I came of age, The Beatles had long since broken up, but they seemed ubiquitous to me. They were ever-present in the pop culture, so even if I wasn't a huge fan, I became one to some degree. There are certain Beatles songs that just transcend generations. How did you become a collector of their ephemera?
Barron: Back in 2000, a friend saw a Beatles 45 on eBay and remarked that it was going for a lot of money. I thought to myself, 'I’ve got a Beatles record; I wonder how much it’s worth'. When I looked up the record--45RPM with picture sleeve--I found that its value was about $100. Sounded good to me, I had been given the single by my sister back in 1970. It got thinking – there aren’t that many 45’s left around these days, maybe I should try and get the other singles The Beatles had recorded. The single that started it all--“Hello Goodbye I am the Walrus”.
ephemera: The first 45RPM I owned was a Beatles single with Helter Skelter on the B side. I wonder how I ever lost track of that disc. What challenges to do you face as a collector of one of the most popular bands of all time?
Barron: One of the biggest challenges for me--and I’m sure most collectors--is spotting counterfeits. I do a couple of things to overcome the challenge of encountering counterfeits; first, I consult different memorabilia reference books and secondly, benefit from my own knowledge gained over the years of my collecting. One other thing I do on occasion, is actually purchase the counterfeit item, if reasonably priced, knowing that it is counterfeit just to get a closer look at it first hand.
Not sure if it’s necessarily a challenge or an obstacle, but it’s when you do come across an item that has been torn, stained, written on, etc, but it’s still an item that I don’t have in my collection.
Sometimes, I’d rather get the item, even though it is not quite in Near Mint or even Good condition, rather than keep holding out for the one that’s in better shape especially when it’s an item that doesn’t come on the market very often.
ephemera: I like your advice about buying a counterfeit to get a good look at it. That's a great tip. What are some of your favorite Beatles items in your collection?
Barron: Geez – where to start ….. let’s start with my “Please, Please Me” 45 released in America with the Beatles misspelled as Beattles. My Yellow Submarine Bicycle was a real find, and definitely one of my favorites; it’s a full-size girls bike made by Huffy back in the 1960’s. The Russian EP’s, extended play 45’s, but spin at the 33 speed. An unlicensed item, The Swingers Music Set, a set of cake decorations that say nothing about the Beatles on the packaging, but it’s clear who the figures are meant to portray. And lastly, The Beatles Talcum Powder Tin. My tin has been opened, but still has powder in it.
ephemera: Those all sound like great finds. What’s your advice for achieving success as a collector?
Barron: If I had to try and pass on one or two small pieces of advise it would be to collect items that you like and that are for your personal enjoyment--don’t try to build an investment portfolio out it, and most of all know the price you are willing and able to pay for an item and stick to it. If you get out bid, you get out bid. You haven’t broken the bank and can live to bid another day.
ephemera: That's sound advice, and something I've heard other world-class collectors also say. For others interested in collecting Beatles ephemera, what resources do you recommend?
Barron: My top recommendation is the Price Guide for the Beatles American Records by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels. Rock-N-Roll Treasures: Identification & Value Guide by Joe Hilton and Greg Moore. The Beatles Memorabilia Price Guide by Jeff Augsburger, Marty Eck, and Rick Rann.
ephemera: Thanks, Jesse. I know a lot of Beatles People will enjoy seeing this interview and learning about collecting Beatles ephemera.
Search Abebooks for the books listed in this interview.