John Lennon's Iconic Round Spectacles Sell for $57,000 in Rare Beatles Auction
Lennon gifted the round 'Windsor' glasses to his housekeeper, Dorothy "Dot" Jarlett, in 1965 so that her brother could use them for a fancy dress costume
John Lennon once sang "the best things in life are free" — but that doesn't apply to his iconic round spectacles!
A rare pair of the "Imagine" songwriter's glasses sold for an eye-popping $56,800 at Sotheby's auction house in London, Wednesday.
Gifted by the late Beatle to his housekeeper, Dorothy 'Dot' Jarlett, in 1965, they're believed to be the first pair of round 'Windsor' spectacles that Lennon — who would have celebrated his 80th birthday on Oct. 9 — ever owned.
Typically for Lennon, the history of the eyewear also comes with a humorous twist: according to the Sotheby's sale brochure, Lennon gave the glasses to Jarlett — who looked after the Beatle, first wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian, from 1964-1968 — so that her brother could use them for a fancy-dress costume.
While the legendary songwriter would become famous for his distinctive glasses, he also kept them out of sight during the early days of Beatlemania.
"Lennon wore contact lenses during the early Beatles years and only adopted the round Windsor eyeglasses in public in 1966, wearing them first whilst playing Private Gripweed in Richard Lester's film How I Won The War," reads the auction booklet from Sotheby's.
"This pair of Windsor glasses predate the film so may well be the first pair of the famous round glasses that he ever owned."
Alongside Lennon's glasses, Wednesday's auction saw a huge number of rare Beatles-related items come under the hammer such as an elegant Cartier watch purchased by their manager Brian Epstein in 1966, which sold for $39,000.
Originally sold as a lady's watch, Epstein had its strap specially customized and bought an identical model for Lennon's bandmate George Harrison.
A first pressing of The Beatles 1962 debut hit Love Me Do also fetched the exact same price ($39,000). It features the signatures of all four of the band from their first-ever official signing session at Dawson's Music Shop in Widnes, England on Oct. 6, 1962.
In a nod to the band's huge stateside success, the lots also included a treasure trove of official Beatles US documents, including a copy of their Certificates of Incorporation as a US company (sold for $7,800), and an August 1965 US tour booklet signed by all four of the band.
Auctioned for $11,400 this originally cost just $1.25 during the Beatles' second US tour, which opened with their largest-ever live concert in front of 55,000 screaming fans at New York's Shea Stadium.
Midway through the tour — which closed in San Francisco — the band also got to meet their own musical hero, Elvis Presley at his home in Bel Air on Aug. 27, 1965.
Along with other memorabilia such as curtains, awards, tour posters, and business cards, the auction included an original drawing by George Harrison called 'Over the Hill Came The Monster' and a 1975 Paul McCartney drawing of a clown ($8,900).
In a sign of just how rebellious Lennon would one day become, the sale also featured a detention sheet from Liverpool's Quarry Bank High School — listing 22 separate misdemeanors ranging from "No book and very idle," to "Continuous silly behavior in class," "Denying an offense committed," and "late + complete idleness."
"Twenty-two detentions in under eight weeks is an impressive record of misbehavior and is consistent with a school career littered with teachers' complaints of lack of interest, clowning around, and refusal to focus his energy and intelligence on his schoolwork," reads the Sotheby's sale brochure.
"A rebellious nature, contempt for authority, caustic wit, and an irresistible desire to perform are characteristics that make a rock and roll star."