George Harrison / The Beatles: A black bowler hat autographed by George Harrison, circa 1964,

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Lot 303
George Harrison / The Beatles: A black bowler hat autographed by George Harrison,
circa 1964,

Sold for £ 5,250 (US$ 6,417) inc. premium
The Harrison Family Collection:
The Harrison Family Collection:

Lots 300 to 313 are all items given by George Harrison to his brother, Harry, and other members of his family. The collection dates from the 1960s and 1970s and three items, in particular, represent important stages in George's career as one of the leading rock musicians of the 20th Century.

Firstly, a black leather jacket comes from the period when the newly-named, and little-known, Beatles honed their skills in the clubs of Hamburg and Merseyside. The many hours they spent onstage, from the latter half of 1960 through to 1962, helped hone their musical skills and transformed them into a group poised on the brink of unimagined international fame. Acquired in Hamburg, George wore this jacket both on and offstage and it appears in many of the photographs taken of the group in those formative years.

Early in 1962, manager Brian Espstein managed to persuade the group that the only way to progress in the music business was to 'smarten' themselves up, both in their choice of wardrobe and conduct onstage. Out went the leather jackets and trousers and rather sober, tailored suits became the new image. Following the group's phenomenal rise to stardom in 1963, their new look of Pierre Cardin-inspired suits with collarless jackets, worn with black Chelsea boots, widely influenced the clothing adopted by the teenagers of the day. The pair of 'Beatle' boots included in this collection are from the time when Beatlemania was at it height and, whilst various suits worn by the Beatles in 1963-1964 have been preserved, a pair of boots from this period are a rare survivor.

After the Beatles broke up in 1970, George embarked on a new stage in his life as a solo artist. He got off to a flying start with the release, in 1971, of several hit singles and the triple-album 'All Things Must Pass'. This year also saw him, along with Ravi Shankar, organising the Concert For Bangladesh, the first rock concert staged to raise funds for humanitarian causes. Since the mid-1960s, George had become deeply interested in Eastern religion and music and this was his response to the suffering of the people of Bangladesh caused by both a devastating tropical cyclone and the effects of civil war. The Concert For Bangladesh was held at New York's Madison Square Garden and an orange shirt identical to that worn by George onstage is another highlight of the sale. Made by Nudie's of Hollywood, suppliers of Western-style clothing to the stars, the shirt bears a label with George's name and features the Hindu 'Om' symbol, to match those on the white suit George also wore for the concert.

Other items in the collection reflect daily life as a Beatle, including demo recordings, Fan Club records given away at Christmas, a camera to record the madness surrounding the group from an insider's perspective and publicity photographs signed by George and with signatures of the other Beatles forged by him in an effort to keep up with the overwhelming demand for autographs.
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George Harrison / The Beatles: A black bowler hat autographed by George Harrison,
circa 1964,
the inner band signed in blue ballpoint by George, stamped 'G.A. Dunn & Co. London' and with 'Dunn & Co. Ltd., London' label, accompanied by a a copy of 'The Saturday Evening Post', August 8-15, 1964


  • This bowler hat is identical to that worn by George during a Beatles photo-shoot with American photographer John Launois on Wednesday, 3rd June 1964, the day before the group's overseas tour was due to start, and a day with events that were to have unexpected consequences.

    Appearing as archetypal London City gents, complete with bowlers, umbrellas and rolled-up newspapers, the Beatles were at Prospect Studios in Barnes with the photographer when Ringo was taken ill. He was rushed to University Hospital where he was diagnosed with pharyngitis and tonsillitis. This famously prompted the hurried recruitment of drummer Jimmie Nicol, via a phone call from George Martin. After just a few hours' rehearsal, Nicol flew out the following day with John, Paul and George and took to the stage in Copenhagen. He remained with the group for concerts in Holland, Hong Kong and Australia, before Ringo rejoined them for concerts in Melbourne on the 15th June.

    An image taken during the photo-shoot was featured on the front cover of 'The Saturday Evening Post', August 8-15, 1964.

    John Launois was born in France but became a US citizen in 1954. He was one of the leading photojournalists in the 60s, his work appearing in 'Life'and 'National Geographic', amongst others, and covering wars, revolutions and cultural events such as the phenomenen of the Beatles. He died in 2002, aged 73.

    Provenance: The Harrison Family Collection.
George Harrison / The Beatles: A black bowler hat autographed by George Harrison, circa 1964,
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