Rare Beatles Records Part 1: The Butcher Cover

We thought we would spend a few words on some of the rare Beatles records that have recently come in the shop. One that most people know is the Butcher Cover. And since you are probably already familiar with the story, we will just quickly summarize it here. The cover, featuring the wholesome Beatles Four in lab coats covered in raw meat while holding baby dolls, proved too gruesome for the public. Consequently, Capitol recalled the record. They pasted the new, much tamer “Trunk” cover on top of the “Butcher.” Then they sent the records back to stores for sale.

Butcher States

There are 3 states of the cover. 1st: the original cover on top of which Capitol never got the chance to apply the new one. The rarest version since someone hung onto it when they weren’t supposed to. 2nd: the unpeeled cover where the second cover remains pasted on top of the original. 3rd: when someone has peeled off the second cover to reveal the original Butcher cover. If you do have or find a second state and want to sell it, we recommend leaving it as is. If you want to keep it and unveil the Butcher, we recommend sending it to a professional for the cleanest peel.

The Beatles
Butcher cover in 2nd (unpeeled) and 3rd (peeled) states. In this example, a professional did not peel off the Trunk cover to reveal the Butcher.

We’ve seen many a customer (not only at our shop but in others as well) hit The Beatles section, pull out a copy of “Yesterday and Today,” and lose their gaze in the cover hoping to find the Butcher underneath. Like people used to do in front of those 3-D images at the mall. There are those who actually try to lift the paper off the cover themselves, usually starting at the corners. Typically, people carry this out at home but, as incredible as it may sound, we have seen some attempt it right in front of us in the shop. Prior to purchase, we might add. So to save time, eye-ball strain, and countless “Yesterday” covers from being mangled, we’d like to offer some tips and visual examples to help quickly identify the Butcher.

Ringo's Turtle Neck
Can you see Ringo’s Turtle Neck?

Tips to Quickly Identify a Butcher

One of the ways you can quickly rule out a butcher is if the cover sports the gold medal record award insignia. Capitol added this to the cover long after they stopped re-pasting the covers. So if you see that award, it’s not a butcher and you can move on.

If you come across an early version, Ringo’s turtle neck should be easy to spot as it bleeds through the white portion of the second cover. As you can see above. Just to the right of the steamer trunk. In all the examples we’ve had, the turtle neck has been glaringly apparent. Of course, the more stark white the cover, the cleaner the outline of the turtle neck. But you should nevertheless see it. If you don’t, if you have to strain your eyes too long, the mythical creature has escaped you. It isn’t a Butcher. For those who still may hold out hope in this regard, we offer a visual example of a cover riddled with dirt and mold. Even here you can still clearly see the turtle neck.

One of the grodier examples of a Butcher Cover we’ve come across.

Furthermore, if a copy of “Yesterday” is sitting in the bins of record store and not on the wall or behind the counter, it is unlikely it is a Butcher. Store owners typically know what to look out for when it comes to this record. You’ll have better luck stumbling upon this at flea market, garage sale, or thrift than you would in a retail environment.

Actual Rarity

While the Butcher cover is rare, it is not by any means the rarest Beatles record. One should keep in mind that the Beatles were, and in many ways still are, the world’s most popular band. As such, their records were pressed by the thousands. And the same applies to the Butcher cover. Remember, Capitol recalled, pasted, and redistributed the record. It’s not like they destroyed it and started over, which would make the record extremely rare to own. So the probability of finding it is actually quite high. We ourselves have had many copies of it in our six years of business and have had even more opportunities to buy them.

We do not intend to burst anyone’s bubble with this last bit of information. Rather we try to keep expectations realistic in the “collector” realm of the record world. Don’t get us wrong: the Butcher cover is still rare, collectible, and valuable. However, you’re not going to retire early if you own one. It’s more about the pleasure of having one of the more interesting records by pop’s most influential bands.

To go further down the rabbit hole, click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yesterday_and_Today

Have a rare Beatles item to sell? Visit us here: https://originalsvinyl.com/los-angeles/