An extensive selection of John Lennon's drawings, doodles, and writings from 1964-1965 will be put up for auction at Sotheby's next Wednesday, June 4. The 89 lots in “John Lennon 'You Might Well Arsk': Original Drawings And Manuscripts, 1964-65” range from an estimated $500 to $70,000.
Lennon gave this collection to Tom Maschler, a British publisher who had convinced him to publish his writing and drawings in two books – “In His Own Write” (1964) and “A Spaniard in the Works” (1965). According to the “New York Daily News”: “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.”
One item generating pre-auction interest is an ink drawing listed as “Untitled illustration of a boy with six birds,” (Lot #1) which is expected to go for $12,000-$15,000. It was the first image in “In His Own Write” and was later used as the cover artwork for the Beatles song “Free As A Bird.”
Also from “In His Own Write” is a corrected typescript, “Sad Michael” (Lot #14), with Lennon's handwriting. This item includes the first known appearance in print of the now-famous phrase “hard days [sic] night.” Its estimated price range is $5,000-$7,000.
The most expensive item in the auction is “The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield,” (Lot #61) a nine-page handwritten manuscript of the legendary Beatle's parody of Sherlock Holmes. According to the Sotheby's catalogue for this auction, the 9-page document is “one of the most extensive Lennon manuscripts in existence” and “the wordplay is more obscene than 'In His Own Write' … and the story – such as it is – revolves around the killing of a prostitute.” This lot is valued in between $50,000 and $70,000.
“This collection captures outpourings of the imagination of one of the most extraordinary figures in post-war global culture. It also encapsulates something of the moment in time,” said Philip Errington, Books and Manuscripts Specialist at Sotheby's.
The auction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first major American appearance, on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
An exhibition of the entire lot is open to the public for viewing: Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31 from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, June 1 from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Monday, June 2 from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; and, Tuesday, June 3 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m, in the 7th floor gallery at Sotheby's New York (1334 York Avenue).