If you have a copy of the Beatles 1968 self-titled record–the so-called White Album–you’ll be familiar with the serial number stamped on the front. This number means a lot to vinyl collectors because the lower the number, the more valuable the copy. This begs the question: Who has White Album #0000001?
If you guessed one of the Beatles, you’d be right. And it would be natural to assume that #0000001 went to either Paul or John. But it didn’t. It went to Ringo. And now he’s selling it for charity. Here’s the description from Julien’s Auctions.
A UK first pressing mono copy of the double LP, The Beatles aka The White Album with first press green apple labels, each disc with a “Factory Sample, Not for Sale” sticker, housed in a top-loading, fully laminated thick card stock “Garrod & Lofthouse” cover listing stereo and mono catalog numbers on the spine, numbered: No.0000001. It has been widely known among collectors that the four members of the Beatles kept numbers 1 through 4, but it was not commonly known that Starr was given the No.0000001 album. Starr has stated that he kept this album in a bank vault in London for over 35 years. Up to this time the lowest numbered UK first mono pressing album to come to market is No.0000005, which sold in 2008 for just under $30,000. This No.0000001 UK first mono pressing owned by a member of the Beatles is the lowest and most desirable copy that will ever become available.
As the record manufacturing plant certainly had every machine available simultaneously pressing copies of this album it is impossible to say with certainty which records were truly the very first off the press, but these discs were certainly among the very first. The album covers however were numbered in sequence, insuring that this No.0000001 sleeve is the very first finished cover. The top load sleeve is in near mint minus condition and would be near mint if not for the bumped upper right front gatefold corner, but it is overall very clean and fresh with very minor abrasions.
Both discs were pressed from the very first Masters as indicated by the -1 matrix numbers on all four sides. The records are contained in their original black inner sleeves and feature “Factory Sample Not For Sale” labels on the whole apple side of disc 1 and on the cut apple side of disc 2. All labels feature the “Sold in UK.” text but omit the “An EMI Recording” text found on later editions. Together with the four original UK portrait photos and UK lyric poster, both in mint condition.
The Master or Matrix, Mother and Stamper numbers and codes printed in the run-out grooves are as follows:
Side 1: -1/1/HR
Side 2: -1/3/HH
Side 3: -1/3/PA
Side 4: -1/2/PT
Aaarrgh! Want! But with the bidding beyond $100,000, I’m out.
UPDATE: The record sold for $790,000. The buy was not named. Meanwhile, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts bought on of Ringo’s famous Oyster grey finish Ludwig drum kids, the kinds used on about a hundred Beatles recordings. The price was $2.2 million USd.