For a brief period in the Swinging Sixties, the Saville Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue was leased (initially by Brian Epstein) to present both cutting-edge plays and music shows.
The Beatles used the venue to make their Hello Goodbye promo in November 1967, and on December 8, 1967, Yoko Ono famously performed The Fog Machine: Music of the Mind which included a projection of her film Bottoms (Film No. 4) in the men’s toilets.
By this time the Saville had become notorious for its acid-fuelled Sunday night concerts featuring emerging late 60s acts such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fairport Convention and Pink Floyd.
The programmes for these events were quite distinctive: simple bold monochromatic type to the plain white covers and a full-blown image of hedonistic psychedelia inside.
The second sale at new firm John Rolfe Auctions in Tetbury on June 11 included six copies from a remarkable run of gigs in 1967: January 29 (Jimi Hendrix and The Who), August 27 (Jimi Hendrix again), September 19 (Eric Burdon and The New Animals), October 1 (Pink Floyd), October 22 (The Who) and November 19 (The Bee Gees).
Some of these rare survivors can be found online for a few hundred pounds each but such a well-preserved group took £2000 via thesaleroom.com (plus 20% buyer’s premium).
They were part of a fine collection of pop culture ephemera and football memorabilia offered across 390 lots. The collection came to auction via a house clearance in a single-bed Cotswolds bungalow. Rolfe had actually found the collection of Saville programmes in a supermarket plastic bag beside the fridge freezer in the garage.
He said: “When one walks into a Cotswold bungalow expectations are usually cut glassware and coronation china. But this was a completely different ball game. We didn’t know quite what we were dealing with at first and it took many hours of painstakingly going through every piece of paperwork to create the specialist sale we put to market.”
Rolfe, previously at Wotton Auction Rooms, opened his auction house in January and held his first sale in April. He has worked in the antiques business for the past 20 years, working up from a porter to head valuer and auctioneer. The June sale was the first in its new premises at Hangar One, Babdown Airfield.
The firm will spend the summer renovating the new saleroom with the next planned for September named A Sale of Wonderful Things.