NOTED COLLECTOR OFFERING ONE OF THE FINEST, METICULOUSLY CURATED COLLECTIONS OF ITS KIND
The 1968 Rolling Stones’ single Street Fighting Man has been called the band’s most political song, reflecting the civil unrest seen in Europe and the United States during the Vietnam War.
When released, radio stations across the country refused to play the tune, fearing it would incite violence. In the United States, the picture sleeve for the record – with an image of police beating protestors in Los Angeles – was quickly pulled by the band’s label.
“These original sleeves were pulled from the production line and were taken to a landfill in Los Angeles,” says Garry Shrum, director of the Entertainment & Music Memorabilia department at Heritage Auctions. “A few sleeves that went to reviewers, DJs and London record employees did make it out, and these advance records with the banned sleeve have made it to private sales and to auction, with prices ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 over the years.”
A proof of the banned sleeve and photographic negatives used in the production process are featured in Heritage’s entertainment and music memorabilia auction scheduled for October 16-17, 2021. The sleeve and scores of other rarities in the auction hail from the vintage vinyl collection of noted New York collector David Swartz.
“This is a terrific collection,” Shrum says. “This Street Fighting Man sleeve alone is one of the most valuable American sleeves in the hobby. Fewer than 10 are known.” It’s expected to sell for at least $25,000, with the collection overall expected to realize between $600,000 and $1 million.
In a 2017 profile, The New York Times called Swartz an “intrepid collector” with more than 5,000 pieces of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia in his collection. An heir to the Timberland outdoor clothing and footwear brand, Swartz has spent the past 30 years competitively searching for, and obtaining, musical treasures – mostly, he told The Times, via research, flea markets and auction houses. The result? One of the finest, meticulously curated collections of its kind. Pieces have been displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
As well they should be. The David Swartz Vintage Vinyl Archive includes more than 2,000 pieces from the 1950s to the early 1970s. “David collected the rarest of the rare,” Shrum says, “one-of-a-kind pieces or items that rarely show up in this condition.”
Included are records, test pressings, acetates and colored vinyl from some of music’s biggest and most influential acts. “We’re talking a wide range of artists,” Shrum says. “Whether it was Jimi Hendrix and James Brown or Cream and the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or the Who, Mr. Swartz picked up everything he could find that was rare or in excellent condition or original pressings.”
Also represented are R&B and doo-wop pioneers like the Ravens, LaVern Baker, the Nutmegs and the Midnighters; the Beatles when they recorded with singer-songwriter Tony Sheridan as the Beat Brothers; and legends such as Buddy Holly, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, the Rock and Roll Trio, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen.
“The collection includes an early test pressing of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, a copy that went out to reviewers or people who worked at the record company,” Shrum says. “At this point, in 1975, Bruce was just breaking big. This was going to be the cover and they decided they didn’t like the script for the cover. They wanted a font change. So they changed it. This cover is a true rarity.”
Also offered is a complete set of Elvis’ first five singles on Sun Records, from 1954 and 1955, in near mint condition.
For fans of R&B, blues, rock ’n’ roll and pop music, few auctions this coming year will be as important as the David Swartz vinyl and acetate auction, Shrum says. “A collection of rarities in this nice a condition just doesn’t happen these days.”
This article appears in the Winter 2020-2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.