John Lennon Memorabilia Auction

John Lennon handwritten lyrics to I'm Only Sleeping
John Lennon handwritten lyrics to I'm Only Sleeping

Bonhams auction on 15th December 2010 is a must for any fans of the music legend John Lennon and The Beatles. Handwritten lyrics for the Beatles’ hit I’m Only Sleeping, an acoustic guitar used during the Walls and Bridges album recording session and a written note of personal expenses from May 1968 are just a few of the important items up for grabs thirty years after the musician’s tragic death.

The most expensive item for sale is a set of handwritten lyrics for I’m Only Sleeping which is estimated to fetch £250,000-350,000. The song can be seen as a reflection of drug-induced reverie, but it is also a personal statement on John’s love of sleeping.

His first wife Cynthia stated that he was a heavy sleeper who loved being in bed, and in Maureen Cleave’s famous “…more popular than Jesus” interview with John she noted that “he can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England.”

The set of lyrics provide a very good idea of the creative process that lay behind Lennon’s compositions. He was known for noting down his ideas on any piece of paper that was to hand, and these lyrics are written on the back of a letter chasing payment for a radiophone bill.

A very special table from John Lennon’s Surrey home of Kenwood, at which Lennon wrote these lyrics for I’m Only Sleeping, is estimated to sell for £10,000-15,000.

During the 1960s the table was kept in a downstairs room in the house where John would frequently compose. He sat at the table on the first night that Yoko visited him in 1968 and wrote the lyrics for a number of other Beatles tracks at it.

Two Ivor Novello Awards on offer in the auction would be perfect to display on the coffee table. The first was for She Loves You (£40,000-50,000) – one of several Ivor Novello awards presented to the Beatles in 1964 for this song, which also won Most Broadcast Work Of The Year and Highest Certified British Sales. It was the track that firmly established the group at the top of the pop music tree in 1963 and it remained in the Top 20 for six months. Accompanying this lot is a photograph of John with a fan to whom he originally gave the award and a copy of a photograph of John at home in ‘Kenwood’ with several Ivor Novello awards in the background.

The second Ivor Novello award up for auction was awarded to Lennon for She’s Leaving Home (£15,000-20,000) for Best Song at the 1968 awards ceremony where the Beatles won three awards.

Walls and Bridges was the fifth official album by John Lennon written during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono and issued in 1974. He played a Guild F-47 acoustic guitar for the recording of the album, which is expected to sell for £12,000-15,000 in this auction. The album features Lennon’s only number one single as a solo artist during his lifetime – Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.

A very personal list of expenses for May 1968 offers an insight into the domestic arrangements of Lennon and the household he was maintaining at the time. It includes details of all domestic outgoings including Julian Lennon’s doctor’s fees and payments to Cynthia’s mother and has attracted a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000.

An intimate pencil drawing entitled ‘John In The Hamburg Rain 62’ by Klaus Voormann is estimated at £2,500-3,500. Voormann was a German Grammy Award-winning artist, musician and record producer. He was great friends with the Beatles and he lived in the band’s London flat with George Harrison and Ringo Starr after Lennon and McCartney moved out to live with their partners.

The sale also includes a maquette of the John Lennon memorial statue in Liverpool John Lennon Airport (£700-900), a handwritten letter with cartoon self-portraits sent to his friend Marc (£5,000 – 6,000), his autograph together with that of George Harrison circa 1963 (£650-800) as well as numerous other items of Beatles memorabilia.

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