Memorabilia and music fetches £465k at John Peel archive sale

Music memorabilia from the estate of Heswall born John Peel achieved an impressive £465,783 on Tuesday 14 June at Bonhams Knightsbridge.

The sale, which offered highlights from Peel’s personal archive – including radio-played test pressings from landmark musicians, rare records, personal correspondence, and memorabilia – attracted global attention and impassioned bidding, both online and in the room.

The top lot was a test pressing of the single Anarchy In The UK / I Wanna Be Me by The Sex Pistols, which sold £20,400 against a pre-sale estimate of £6,000 – 8,000.

Katherine Schofield, Director of Bonhams Popular Culture department, commented, “It has been a real privilege to be able to offer the collection of the legendary DJ and broadcaster John Peel. John meant so much to so many people, and his incredible influence on music reverberates down the generations. This was the first-time records and memorabilia from Peel’s personal collection had ever been offered at auction – with all items being carefully selected by the Ravenscroft family.

“It is no wonder that this sale received an exceptional level of attention from collectors, and we’re delighted Peel’s passion for music clearly lives on amongst his many devotees.”

Speaking prior to the sale the Ravenscroft family commented, “By virtue of the role he played in it, John/Dad was in a position to have access to many of the most celebrated people and events in the history of popular music.

“This is reflected in a wealth of souvenirs he collected throughout his life. He had not only a voracious appetite for vinyl, but a keen sense of what memorabilia, ephemera and correspondence might find an interested audience in decades to come (though it could be argued that this was achieved by a strategy of keeping almost everything that crossed his path).

“In going through the accumulation of 40 years of pop music moments, we decided that some of the most interesting items might find a home, with fans of his programme or of the artists whose music he played. Bonhams have assisted us to carefully select what is being offered for sale, and we hope these items find the attention and appreciation that we’re sure John/Dad would feel they warranted. #

“We had no desire to split up his beloved record collection but have included in the sale a selection of particularly rare or unique records that do not take away from the integrity of his archive.”

Highlights of the sale included:

  • The Smiths: An Original Demo Cassette From ‘The Smiths’ With Letter From The Band, 4 February 1983. Sold for £17,850
  • John Lennon/Yoko Ono: A Mono Pressing LP ‘Two Virgins’ Annotated by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1968. Sold for £15,300
  • Pink Floyd/John Peel: An Important ‘Evolutions’ Foil Poster. Sold for £8,925
  • Queen: A ‘Queen II’ LP with hand-written letter from Freddie Mercury, 1974. Sold for £16,575, against a pre-sale estimate of £1,000-1,500
  • U2: THREE (Out Of Control/Stories For Boys/Boy-Girl), 1981. Sold for £14,025
  • Joy Division: A 7″ ‘An Ideal For Living’, 1978, with Letter from Stephen Morris. Sold for £9,563
  • The Rolling Stones: An Autographed Copy Of The Rare Promotional Album, 1969. Sold for £11,475
  • The Perfumed Garden: The Original Artwork By Ken Hayes Created For John Peel’s Article In The Magazine ‘Gandalf’s Garden’, 1967. Sold for £4,462
  • The Sex Pistols: A Rare Anarchy In The UK Tour Poster For The Cancelled Show at Charlton Theatre In Preston,10th December 1976. Sold for £5,737
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience: A ‘Christmas On Earth’ Poster for Olympia, 1967. Sold for £5,355
  • Nirvana: A 7″ Single ‘Love Buzz/Big Cheese’, 1988. Sold for £8,925
  • The Clash: An 8″ Single ‘London Calling’, 1979. Sold for £5,100
  • An NME Award for Godlike Genius, presented to John Peel in 1993. Sold for £3,187
  • A Horn Gramophone, First Half 20th Century. From John Peel’s desk in his studio at his home in Suffolk. Sold for £1,912

Image: Bonhams

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