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Beatlemania: Avid Fab Four fan parting with some of her collection

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Cathy Dobson

Sue Vollmar isn’t ready yet to part with some of the items in her Beatles collection.

“I have an unpeeled version of the Butcher cover from 1965 that’s probably worth $1,000. But it’s my favourite and it’s not for sale,” says the avid Fab Four fan, who’s collected memorabilia for more than 50 years.

Vollmar became hooked the night she saw the Beatles live television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

“I remember buying my first Beatles album, “Love Me Do,” at Mary’s Record Mart downtown that year,” she said. “Paul was always my favourite Beatle but I was never just a Paul fan. The Beatles were a unit.”

Over the years, Vollmar amassed hundreds of Beatles collectibles that filled an entire bedroom of her home.

When a new LP was released, she’d often buy as many as six copies, open one and leave the others sealed.  She has at least 100 in mint condition.

When Dairy Queen began offering glasses etched with images of John, George, Ringo and Paul, she stored a few away. They’re now worth $130 each.

“I have a closet full of sealed VHS tapes and DVDs of their movies and concerts,” said Vollmar.

She also has posters, books, Yellow Submarine dolls, mugs, a Beatles CD player that looks like a vinyl record player, and a motion lamp adorned with caricatures of the best-selling band in history.

Vollmar never saw The Beatles perform live.

“And that’s okay,” she said.  “Everyone was always screaming at their concerts and you wouldn’t even hear the music.”

But she’s seen Paul McCartney and Wings in concert half a dozen times. Of course, she has her share of cool Beatles stories too.

Once, while waiting outside the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for a concert, a black Lexus rolled up and McCartney rolled down the window.  “I don’t remember if he said anything. It was enough just to know we breathed the same air,” she said with a smile.

Then there was the time she was at a little pub in Ireland and got chatting with a couple she thought she recognized.

When introductions were made, she had guessed right. It was Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister.

“Looking into her eyes was like looking into his eyes. They were so much alike,” she said. “Julia asked how I knew who she was and I told her I knew all The Beatles’ relatives like they’re my own family.”

Though collecting has been her passion, at age 63, Vollmar says she is ready to let go a little.

“I walked into my Beatles room one day and thought, ‘Whatever am I going to do with all this stuff?’”

She spoke to the owners of the Joie de Vintage shop at 140 Front St., who offered her space to sell part of her extensive collection.

Forty to fifty items went on sale two weeks ago and Vollmar said she will slowly add more.

“There will be some things though that I won’t sell, like my Beatles CD player and my unpeeled Butcher cover,” she said.

The Butcher cover refers to the controversial Yesterday and Today album released in 1966 that originally depicted the band with decapitated dolls and chunks of raw meat. It created such a stir it was recalled and covered over with a tamer photo.

A Beatles serving tray and a 1968 Look magazine cover featuring John Lennon were among the first to sell at Joie de Vintage.

“When I heard they were gone I wasn’t sure how I felt about it,” Vollmar said.

“But now I’m starting to get used to it.”

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