THE BEATLES B.C. -- Before Capitol
First Edition 01 My 02
Fakes and Fantasies
A counterfeit or fake record is one that attempts to
pass itself off as a genuine record that was actually issued by
a legitimate record company at one time. Sometimes, counterfeits
do not look exactly like the genuine copies that the mimic but are
A fantasy record or sleeve is one that pretends to be a rare
and otherwise unknown item. However, no legitimate record company
ever pressed or printed an item like that one.
A pirate copy of a record is a counterfeit that is made while
the legitimate record is still selling. These lower quality "knock-offs" are
intended to dupe people into buying them at a lower price than the
genuine record album would cost.
While Vee Jay and Swan were still producing Beatles records, there was
certainly no need for anyone to make "pirate," "counterfeit," or "fantasy"
records on those labels. However, during the late 1960's demand
arose for Beatles records on those two labels. Counterfeiters filled
that void, making counterfeit copies of Introducing the Beatles
and of the Swan "She Loves You" single. The 1970's and '80's saw even more
counterfeits being circulated. Since there were no legitimate copies
selling, these counterfeits are -- strictly speaking -- NOT "pirate" copies,
even though they were not being sold as "collectors' items."
|"She Loves You"/"I'll Get You"
||(Counterfeit) Swan 4152
|"She Loves You"/"I'll Get You"
||(Counterfeit) Swan 4152|
- white label with red print OR black label with silver print
It has been believed for some time that "thin print" copies with
quotation marks were reissues available in 1966 and 1967 (just before
Swan Records folded in 1967). These rumors are false, for Swan had a
contract to release the single for two years and stopped pressing
"She Loves You" in 1965. There are two common issues of these fakes:
1. The matrix numbers are stamped into the
trail-off by machine. Unlike the genuine Swan issues, the
matrix numbers are only 1/16" high, and neither the "Reco-Art"
nor "Virtue Studio" company information appears in the matrix.
2. The matrix numbers are etched by hand, otherwise
On both of these fakes, the words "DON'T DROP OUT" do not
appear on the label. Style 3 labels, with quotation marks.
The "stamped matrix" fakes have been promoted as reissues.
Even though these fakes are almost as common as the 'black label' issues
and are not genuine, public opinion for years that they were
genuine has caused them to sell for $40 to $50 each. The "etched
matrix" fakes have been recognized as counterfeits and usually sell
for under $10.
Some counterfeit/fantasy copies of the white and red label "She Loves
You" were pressed in red vinyl. These
tend to sell for about $20, twice as much as the more common black
|"Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand"/"How Do You Do It?"
||(Fantasy) Swan 4197
- Swan Records never had a license to press singles containing
the "other" song that the Beatles had recorded in German. Since
Capitol Records had released the English version of "I Want to Hold
Your Hand," the license went to them. Capitol did release the
German-language song on their Something New album in 1964.
This fantasy Swan label was made during the 1970's. The font used
on the label is nothing any of the genuine Swan variations. In case
you were curious, the real record numbered Swan 4197 was
"Gee Baby (I'm Sorry)" by the Three Degrees, a song that stayed in
the top 100 for a few weeks in 1965.
|"Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why"
||(Fantasy) Vee Jay 498 sleeves
- Since the Beatles were complete unknowns in the USA in early
1963, Vee Jay Records never issued a picture sleeve for their
first release. Bootleggers have filled the void by producing
fantasy sleeves. Each of the above sleeves first appeared
The first sleeve, shown above, features an early photo of
the group. Like the actual single, the sleeve misspells
"Beatles," using two T's. There are promotional markings on
the reverse side, as though the sleeve had accompanied
original white/gray label promo copies. In reality, the
sleeve came about 20 years too late.
The second sleeve sports four drawings of the Beatles that
Vee Jay actually did produce. These are the drawings that
appear inside Songs, Pictures, and Stories, on the
Souvenir ... EP, on the poster to Beatles vs. the
Four Seasons, and on the picture sleeve to "Do You
Want to Know a Secret". On this fantasy sleeve, the brackets
logo was used, even though Vee Jay hadn't come up with it
in early 1963. The group's name is also spelled correctly.
|"From Me to You"/"Thank You Girl"
||(Fantasy) Vee Jay 522 sleeves
- As with the above single, there were no original picture
sleeves accompanying the Beatles' second single for Vee Jay.
Bootleggers have produced at least two fantasy sleeves for
the record. Again, both sleeves are of recent origin.
The first sleeve is a pale imitation of the genuine sleeve to
Vee Jay 581, with the photograph flipped around.
The second sleeve uses the photo from the 1982 re-release of
"Love Me Do." This second-generation picture is blurry.
|"Please Please Me"/"From Me to You"
||(Counterfeit) Vee Jay 581 sleeves
- The first of these sleeves is actually a counterfeit/fantasy
item, not intended to fool someone but to simply occupy the
missing place of a rare item in someone's collection. The
sleeve is clearly unlike the genuine sleeve, for the group's name
appears here in green and in red on the original sleeve.
The sleeve on the right is a different matter! Look at the top
(opening) of the sleeve. Genuine copies of the VJ 581 sleeve
have the slick cut so that the corners at the top are slightly
rounded; copies that have the corners cut square are counterfeits.
|Introducing the Beatles
||(Counterfeit) Vee Jay SR 1062
- All genuine stereo copies of Introducing the Beatles
play in true stereo and have the word "STEREO" on the label. Since
true stereo copies are hard to find, they have been widely counterfeited,
beginning in the 1960's. First, here are a few tips:
- If your copy has the "STEREOPHONIC" banner on the front cover,
if chosen at random it would have over a 99% chance of being a fake.
- If your "stereo" copy lists "Love Me Do" in the song titles on the
back, it now has a 99.999% chance (literally!) of being a fake. There are
fewer than ten genuine copies with that configuration and perhaps a
- If your "stereo" copy does not have the word STEREO on the label
and does not play in stereo, there's no "chance" about it: you have a fake.
- If your copy, mono or stereo, has the title and artist name separated
by the spindle hole in the middle of the record, there is no doubt: you
have a fake.
- All genuine true stereo copies that have "Love Me Do" have Vee Jay's OVAL
logo on the label -- not the BRACKETS logo. All known fakes are on the
brackets logo, making it rather easy to tell.
- Copies where the label is all black with a large brackets logo are
all fakes. There are many other kinds of fakes, however.
Clearly Counterfeit Covers
Let's first look at some fakes that are clearly identifiable just from the cover:
The cover is ugly and yellowed. The photograph is clearly a second generation
copy. The word "STEREO" is printed on the front cover (since the counterfeiters
did not actually own a stereo cover). These fakes date to the late 1960's.
Here's another "easy loser." There are no genuine copies of the LP with a brown
border around the album. Most likely, these were semi-fantasy items that were
never intended to pass themselves off as genuine. Since they first appeared in
the mid-to-late 1970's, some people have forgotten that they are fakes.
This fake, from the late 1970's, was supposed to resemble the genuine article.
Apparent problems in picture quality made the counterfeiters decide to airbrush
the background. George Harrison has a shadow behind him on all genuine copies --
and even on most fakes -- but not on this particular counterfeit. Another
"easy to spot loser."
Clearly Countefeit Back Covers
In a few cases, the back cover, too, can tip you off that you're looking at
a phony copy of Introducing the Beatles
The printing of the columns and back cover information should be sharp and
clear throughout. Here's a back cover from the mid-1970's where the "H" in
"HONEY" has some printing defects. This particular cover is even easier to
detect as a fake because the front cover does not wrap around to the back properly:
The front cover SHOULD wrap completely around, underneath the back cover slick.
Most counterfeits made after the late 1970's do wrap properly, but this earlier
one does not. Notice that the front cover slick suddenly "becomes white". This
is because the counterfeiters made copies of an LP cover while it was still
contstructed. Later counterfeiters actually unfolded an original cover before
making a copy, so those later ones are better fakes than the one shown above.
One problem with many later fakes, like this one from the late 1970's, is that
they were shot off of other fakes. The printing problems that the earlier one
was having are now more accentuated. The word "HONEY" is now missing a few
chunks. The vertical bars across the label don't have sides that are truly
straight, either. Throughout the back cover printing, there are bleed overs
and little bits missing.
Clearly Counterfeit Labels
The vast majority of counterfeit copies of Introducing the Beatles cannot
be easily identified by their covers alone. Chances are, though, if it claims to
be in stereo and claims to have "Love Me Do" in the titles on the back, it's a
phony. The best test to determine whether your item is genuine is to look at
the symbols that are stamped into the matrix of the record. Since this can be
difficult -- even confusing for some -- we'll take the next best route: to
look at the labels. On page two of this series, we examined genuine
labels, so now let's look at a few counterfeits:
This is an all black label with large brackets. These were first introduced in
the late 1970's, along with fakes of Songs, Pictures, and Stories and
Hear the Beatles Tell All. The label is of higher quality than some of the
"rainbow label" fakes, but since the artist name and title are separated by the
spindle hole, it's a clear fake. Also, during the 1960's, Vee Jay never released a
"large brackets" version of an "all black label." Finally, these usually come in
covers claiming that the record is in stereo; the label does not say "STEREO" --
another sign of a counterfeit. Some "all black" counterfeit labels from the same
period list "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me" -- since the counterfeiters did not
own copies that had "Love Me Do" and "PS I Love You" on them.
This style counterfeit label was very popular -- some copies date back to the 60's. Notice
the thin print on the catalog number. Like the other fakes, the mono catalog number is
shown on the label; the bootleggers did not have stereo copies to copy from. That's
why the songs are in mono, too. Here, we see again the telltale sign -- that the
word "STEREO" is absent, and the title and artist name are separated by the spindle
hole. Either one of these is the sign of a fake.
By the late 1970's, some copies of the same style fake as the one above were being
made sloppily. Notice that the label is not the right size. Part of the color band
is missing around the label's edge. Otherwise, it exhibits the same counterfeit
characteristics as the label above.
This counterfeit, from the early 1980's, looks slightly better. The colors in the color
band are more realistic. However, the word "STEREO" is still missing, and the cover this
record came with claimed it was in stereo. It's also got the title and artist's name
separated. Another fake.
Here's another fake, again slightly more professional-looking. This one came out
during the mid-1980's. Once again, though, we have a brackets label copy without
"STEREO" (and the cover promised us stereo). And even more clearly, the title and
artist's name are separated by the spindle hole in the middle. A disappointing effort.
This counterfeit was color photocopied from a genuine MONO copy of the LP, so the
title and artist's name are in the right place. The colors are strange, but it would
fool most people. It came in a "stereo" cover, though, so again something is wrong.
Notice that the color green is missing from the label. The record also lists "Please
Please Me" and "Ask Me Why," since that's the kind of genuine copy that was being
photocopied. The label also has a large pressing ring, a kind not found on genuine
NOTE: Quite a few counterfeiters didn't even own copies of the LP with
"Love Me Do" on them. Instead, they were just copying covers that other fakers had made.
They did own copies of the LP with "Please Please Me," so they simply used a recording
with PPM and labels that read LMD. The result: copies that claim to have "Love Me Do"
on them but do not. Copies that do not play the correct songs are typically
counterfeits. And of course, the above rules for the label identification apply.
NOTE 2: Counterfeit copies DO exist that list "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me"
on the back cover. Many of those fakes are of the earlier, easy to detect variety.
Once again, copies with covers that claim to be stereo need to have labels that say STEREO and
records that actually play in stereo.
|Songs and Pictures [sic] of the Fabulous Beatles
||(Counterfeit) Vee Jay LP 1092
- When counterfeiters began to reproduce the Songs, Pictures, and Stories
album, they found that reproducing the 3/4 fold-open cover was difficult. Some
of them, beginning in the mid-1970's thought it would be clever to remove the
"stories" and shorten the title of the LP. All copies of the album without the
original gatefold cover are counterfeits. Some copies of this fake have their
labels corrected so that the title and number match this LP; all genuine copies
had regular (genuine) Introducing the Beatles records in them.
|"Do You Want to Know a Secret?"/"Thank You Girl"
||(Counterfeit/Fantasy) Vee Jay 587 sleeve
- There were no genuine promotional sleeves for VJ 587. Any such
sleeves that exist -- like the one above -- are fantasy items. The
graphics on the sleeve were taken from the regular commercial sleeve.
|"Twist and Shout"/"There's a Place"
||(Fantasy) Tollie T-9001
- Copies in colored vinyl, like the one above from the 1980's, are obvious fakes.
There are other fakes, too, with similar label styles. Since the labels resemble
genuine copies of the single, it is best to look at the trail-off. Genuine singles
have one or more pieces of information stamped into the matrix by machine. These
may include the Monarch Records (MR) logo, the words "AudioMatrix," or other
letter combinations. Counterfeit copies do not have these machine-stamped symbols
but instead have the entire matrix etched in by hand.
|"Twist and Shout"/"There's a Place"
||(Fantasy) Tollie T-9001 sleeve
- Tollie Records issued no picture sleeve with the "Twist and Shout" single.
There have been several attempts to create fantasy sleeves for the record.
The one on the left is a crude effort from the 1970's. Its cover image was copied
from Hard Day's Night album photos. The fantasy sleeve
on the right is from the 1980's. Its graphics were borrowed from the sleeve to
|"Love Me Do"/"PS I Love You"
||(Counterfeit) Tollie T-9008
- There is a genuine Tollie label style that has "Tollie Records" drawn
in a box. However, these counterfeits (from the 1980's) have the word "TOLLIE"
in thick, block letters. The genuine "hand drawn box" labels have "TOLLIE" in
thin, curved print.
|"Love Me Do"/"PS I Love You"
||(Counterfeit) Tollie T-9008 sleeve
- This fake is recent (1990's). It can be distinguished from the genuine sleeves
by the "curve cut" thumb tab at the top. Genuine sleeves do not have this feature.
|Their Biggest Hits
||(Fantasy) Tollie TEP 1-8901 EP
- These fantasy EP's were manufactured during the mid to late 1970's. Some copies
have labels that seem to resemble genuine Tollie labels. However, ALL copies of this
EP or not, regardless of how genuine the labels look, are fantasy items. There were
never any copies of any Beatles EP issued by Tollie Records.
|Souvenir of Their First Trip to America
||(Counterfeit) Vee Jay EP 1-903
- The Vee Jay EP has also been subject to counterfeiting since the 1970's.
ALL copies of the EP that are "picture discs" are fantasy items.
The EP label on the left doesn't look remotely similar to a genuine Vee Jay label,
so it is easy to identify as a counterfeit.
The EP on the right has a label similar to the scarce "black label with oval
logo"; however, the label is white. None of these white label copies are genuine,
but this particular record is attractive looking.
|The Beatles and Frank Ifield on Stage
||(Counterfeit) Vee Jay LP/SR 1085
- Counterfeits have been made of both the more common ("old man") cover and
the rare (Beatles portrait) cover. The counterfeit labels (above) usually
resemble a genuine label style -- all black label with "VJ". The label print is
almost imperceptibly different from the genuine article. The label itself is a
lighter (gray) shade than the genuine label, which is black. Also, the print
on the label is slightly fuzzy on the counterefeit.
The covers are more easy to distinguish. SOME counterfeit covers have no printing
on the spine.
Some portrait covers, like this one, do not have the word STEREO at the top or
the mono number at the bottom. In other words, the front cover does not identify
whether the record is in mono or stereo.
The most common counterfeit "old man" cover has the word "STEREO" printed in the
lower right hand corner. Original copies have a large STEREO at the top. The colors
are also slightly different than on the genuine LP cover.
|"Do You Want to Know a Secret", "Love Me Do",|
"Please Please Me", "Twist and Shout"
|(Counterfeit) Oldies OL-149, 150, 151, 152
- Every one of the Vee Jay reissues on their Oldies label was counterfeited,
beginning in the early 1970's.
Some fakes, from the late 1970's, are easy to identify because the Oldies logo
has been changed to black from white. All copies with "OLDIES" in black are cheap
More common, though, are counterfeits whose labels resemble the originals. The
records themselves do not have the appropriate machine stamping. All genuine copies
have the Monarch Records (MR) logo stamped in by machine; many genuine copies have
the "AudioMatrix" stamp. The counterfeits lack these. Some counterfeits even have a
fake (MR) logo etched in by hand.
The labels are a good way to spot most fakes quickly. Since most counterfeits are
made by duplicating genuine label styles, their second generation graphics are
not as sharp as the real thing. In particular, the registered trademark symbol,
® is clearly visible on the real single above the large number "45" on the label.
On most fakes (see above), it is almost completely missing or is very faint.
Also, all genuine labels are glossy; many counterfeits have labels that are flat.
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Articles © 2002 by Frank Daniels