Remco/Seltaeb, 1964. Unbound. Complete set of all four pristine mop-topped Beatle figurines by Remco/Sletaeb in custom-made display cases accompanied by one the first Beatles songbooks released in the United States.
Each Beatle is complete with his appropriate instrument that bears his name: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. Each also has a full head of faux hair. (Most extant figurines are either missing their instruments or ‘going bald’.] Each measures between 4.5” and 5” tall. These hard-bodied figurines have turnable heads and are molded wearing black suits, white shirts, and black ties, just as they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. (More common, soft plastic versions were also produced.) The figurines are contained within four custom-made display cases. The original store boxes are not present.
The lot also includes one of the first U.S. Beatles songbooks—The Beatle Book of Recorded Hits: Souvenir Song Album, Keys Popular Song Album No. 30, 1964—to capitalize on their Ed Sullivan Show smash success. The saddle-stapled 8.5” x 11” softcover song book is in nice shape with minimal edgewear and includes all four of the oft-missing “Souvenir Cut-Out Page” portraits. It includes music and lyrics to some of the Beatles earliest hits: She Loves You, Please Please Me, From Me to You, I Saw Her Standing There, There’s a Place, Misery, A Taste of Honey, My Bonnie, Ask Me Why, and I Wanna Be Your Man.. Very good. Item #009682
On February 9th, 1974, 73 million Americans tuned in The Ed Sullivan Show to see the premier performance by the Beatles in the United States. Although burgeoning stars in the United Kingdom, they had received limited exposure on this side of the Atlantic as their music was available only on second-tier labels (Swan and Vee Jay), and it was only a few weeks earlier that they had broken into the U.S. charts with, I Want to Hold Your Hand. Sullivan, who had seen one of their performances while traveling in England, was astounded by their fan’s over-the-top reaction, and he immediately booked them for an unprecedented three-consecutive-week performance on his television show.
The Beatles opened their five-song set on the 9th with the relatively low-key All My Loving and followed with a cover of Till There Was You, a Broadway standard from The Music Man. The audience was excited with some girls screaming after every line and one or two teenagers were shown hyperventilating, but it wasn't until the group began She Loves You, the crowd went truly wild, and the theater exploded. The rest is history. One critic noted a few years ago that, “What followed was perhaps the most important two minutes and 16 seconds of music ever broadcast on American television—a sequence that still sends chills down the spine almost half a century later.” The group returned later in the show and closed out its performance with I Saw Her Standing There and I Want to Hold Your Hand.
Paul McCartney later observed in an interview,
“It was very important. We came out of nowhere with funny hair, looking like marionettes or something. That was very influential. I think that was really one of the big things that broke us – the hairdo more than the music, originally. A lot of people’s fathers had wanted to turn us off. They told their kids, ‘Don’t be fooled, they’re wearing wigs.’ A lot of fathers did turn it off, but a lot of mothers and children made them keep it on. All these kids are now grown-up, and telling us they remember it. . . . I get people like Dan Aykroyd saying, ‘Oh man, I remember that Sunday night; we didn’t know what had hit us – just sitting there watching Ed Sullivan’s show.’ Up until then there were jugglers and comedians like Jerry Lewis, and then, suddenly, The Beatles!”
For more information see Turner’s “1964 Beatles Collectibles” at Back to the Past, “America Meets the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’” at This Day in History, “Feb 9: The Beatles first Ed Sullivan Show 1964” at All Dylan-A Dylan Blog, and “The Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show” at The Beatles Bible, all on-line.
These figurines, produced by Brian Epstein’s Beatles marketing company (Seltaeb is Beatles spelled backwards) were distributed by Remco for sale at variety stores like Kresge or Woolworths. At the time, they were inexpensive; not so today.
Worthpoint shows that pristine sets, like this one, but without the songbook or custom-made display cases have repeatedly sold for $995 on eBay. Although reproductions of the original boxes are available and are often used to house slightly worn figurines which sell for considerably less, pristine sets in verifiable original store boxes sell from $2,000 to over $3,000 depending upon box condition.