John Lennon's 'gibberish' poems and childlike doodles set to fetch $800,000 at auction
By REUTERS and DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 29 May 2014
The largest private collection of doodles, comic drawings and nonsensical poems by the Beatles singer John Lennon will be sold by Sotheby's in New York next Wednesday.
Ranging from gibberish descriptions of Lennon's native city Liverpool, in northern England, to a drawing of a ‘National Health Cow’ in an apparent jab at Britain's National Health Service, the collection reveals a lesser known side of the celebrated British singer, who was shot dead in 1980.
The drawings and original manuscripts are part of a collection of publisher Tom Maschler, creator of the prestigious literary award the Booker Prize, who published them in two books, In His Own Write (1964), and A Spaniard in the Works (1965).
Up for grabs: The largest private collection of nonsense poems and doodles by the Beatles singer John Lennon will be sold at auction on June 4 - this ink drawing of a guitar player will be included in the sale, with an estimated sale value of $15,000 to $25,000
The collection, named You Might Well Arsk, has a pre-sale estimate of around $800,000 for 89 lots, Sotheby's said.
The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance in America on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. Watched by 73 million Americans, it shot the band to stardom.
The drawings and poems all date back to the early 1960s at the height of 'Beatlemania', Sotheby's said.
Music legend: Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, pictured leaving a U.S. immigration hearing in New York on April 18, 1972 - he was shot dead eight years later when returning to his New York home by Mark David Chapman
Inside the mind of a music star: The collection reveals a lesser known side of the celebrated British singer, who was shot dead in 1980 - this ink drawing is set to fetch up to $15,000
Hard reads: Many of the words in Lennon's letters and poems are misspelled, with letters jumbled up
One of the unpublished typescripts contains a reference to the record-breaking British band's first single Love Me Do, released in 1962.
'The Beatles (a band) hab jud make a regord ... a song they whripe themselves called 'Lub Me Jew'," Lennon wrote in his characteristic gibberish style.
Another highlight in the sale is a cartoon of a boy with six birds.
It appeared in A Spaniard in the Works and was used 30 years later as the cover for the Beatles' release of Free as a Bird, written by Lennon in 1977.
It has a pre-sale estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.
Quite the imagination: This image provided by Sotheby's - the New York auction house hosting the sale - shows an untitled ink drawing by Lennon of a seated man and floating creature, which is estimated to sell for $8,000 to $12,000
Retro fashions: Lennon's drawings and poems all date back to the early 1960s at the height of 'Beatlemania' - this one, showing seven people and a dog, has a pre-sale price tag of $10,000 to $15,000
English countryside: Some of the drawings appear to be set around Lennon's native city, Liverpool - this sheep ink and watercolor is one of the few colored pieces, pushing the estimate up to a high of $30,000
'It's very much like Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were two of Lennon's favorite books from childhood and he read them on a yearly basis,' said Philip Errington, director of printed books and manuscripts at Sotheby's.
'It is gibberish, it is gobbledygook, and yet it's funny, it's humorous verse.'
But not everyone was as convinced of their literary value.
Sale highlight: This cartoon of a boy with six birds was used as the cover for the Beatles' release of Free as a Bird, written by Lennon in 1977 - it has a pre-sale estimate of $12,000 to $15,000
Historical reference: Many of Lennon's doodles have political undertones - this one, showing people voting, is expected to fetch up to $15,000
Random thoughts: 'It is gibberish, it is gobbledygook, and yet it's funny, it's humorous verse,' 'Philip Errington, director of printed books and manuscripts at Sotheby's, said of Lennon's manuscripts
In a parliamentary debate in 1964, a Conservative politician, Charles Curran, used Lennon's nonsense verse to attack Britain's education standards.
'He [Lennon] is in a state of pathetic near-literacy,' Curran said.
'He seems to have picked up bits of Tennyson, Browning and Robert Louis Stevenson while listening with one ear to the football results on the wireless.'
Maschler tracked Lennon down at a concert after coming across the drawings and writings in 1962 and convinced him to make a book out of them.
The New York sale will take place on June 4.