The Abbey Road pics got £180,000

One of the Abbey Road photos, #4.  Photo: Iain Macmillan. Copyright: Apple Corps Ltd.

The not particularly rare photographs of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, shot for the cover of the album of the same name have sold for a staggering £180,000. Experts, texperts predicted the photos would make £70,000 when they went under the hammer at Bloomsbury Auctions.

According to Sarah Wheeler, Head of Photography at Bloomsbury Auctions, the set was originally sold individually, but were collected and put together as a set by a private collector, the current seller.

Funny that, he could have just visited Snap Galleries in 2011 and bought a full set.

Source: Daily Mail

From the exhibition “Beatles and bystanders”, here’s a rundown of various people in the background of the six Abbey Road photos for the front cover, as described by Snap Galleries owner Guy White in an article in Sabotage Times. (We have substituted the name Paul Cole with the words “Mystery man”):

The session photographs in more detail:

Frame 5. The cover shot, has been discussed and analysed in depth over the years, even to advance theories of the death of Paul McCartney. But what of the five other front cover session photographs taken that day: the three right to left and two left to right passes that weren’t used? They have been reproduced sparingly in publications over the years, but the opportunity to view them together on a wall in a gallery setting has allowed us to go much deeper.

Frame 1. “Mystery man” is there, on the right, but so are two other people further back on the same side of the road. One is looking at the camera, the other is bending down, looking for something in a bag. On the left pavement, a man sits on the wall, his legs dangling, while closer to camera, two women and a young girl appear behind the Volkswagen Beetle.

Frame 2. There’s “Mystery man” again, but this time he is all alone on the right pavement. The two people on the right in frame 1 have gone. Meanwhile our friend sitting on the wall on the left has been joined by a man in a white shirt and a woman with a parasol.

Frame 3. “Mystery man” is there, but now he has moved further away from his position in frame 2. He shares the pavement this time with a lady in a red sweater, looking directly at the camera. Here’s where it gets interesting. You have to look very, very carefully on the left pavement to spot her, but there in the closest gateway, just behind the Beetle, is a young woman in a purple top. This is her first appearance, but she is present in three of the six frames – just one fewer appearance than “Mystery man”.  Immediately behind the Beetle, a black delivery van has pulled in. It has gone before frame 4. Look carefully and you can see the left arm of the driver, standing behind the van.

Frame 4. There’s no sign of “Mystery man”, but there is another man in a white shirt, striding with some purpose, walking towards the camera. Over on the left we get a clearer sight of the mysterious girl in the purple top, on the move this time, and two of the three decorators who appear on the actual cover, appear in this frame.

Frame 5. The actual cover. The one everyone knows. “Mystery man” is there on the right, of course. On the left pavement, further back, stand three decorators, subsequently identified as Alan Flanagan, Steve Millwood and Derek Seagrove. They were all captured for posterity on the cover photograph. Close viewing shows another man, as yet unidentified, standing behind a car, close to the group of three. There is no sign of the mysterious girl in the purple top.

Frame 6. “Mystery man” has had enough – he’s gone. The three decorators remain on the left, joined by a fourth person. The girl in the purple top is there on the left, clearly visible, back in the gateway she first occupied in frame 3. Other people appear, but are not engaged with the scene: a man dressed in black walks away from camera on the left pavement. On the right, by the police van, two people are looking away, while in the distance, on the left, passengers spill out of a number 159 bus. Who were these other people? Maybe we’ll never know, or maybe this can be the start of their 15 minutes. Anyone out there recognise their mum, or their aunty Beryl?

Guy White’s descriptions of the bystanders in each of the Macmillan shots have been added to our main page about the Abbey Road photo session, “The road goes on forever“.

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure there must be a cat somewhere in these shots and eventually digital restorative techniques may lead to that cat being picked out, enhanced and its owner paid by Celebrity magazines for their story.
    In the meantime, London Transport could do a book on 'The Bus That wasn't on the cover of Abbey Road'.

  2. Hugh Nique says:

    During the interview that can be found on YouTube with John Kosh, he mentions not once but twice that 12 shots were made and not 6. I know Lewisohn mentions 6 too but I do find it odd that Kosh makes such a mistake. He said it just after 7:00 minutes into the interview.

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