Binders | Beatles memorabilia
Updated: Feb 19
Every "paperback writer" could safely secure essential manuscripts and homework in the official Beatles Binder! Fans could now collect and save the lyrics and sheet music for their favorite Fab Four songs in one place! Students could carry notes about the band to school and daydream of the Fabs instead of the football team star!
Standard Plastic Products (SPP), 450 Oak Tree Avenue, South Plainfield, New Jersey, received their merchandise license in late February of 1964 as a sub-licensee from the Belt Manufacturing Company of Canada. The agreement allowed them to produce the "early 1964 issue" binders featuring the Fab Four. Vinyl-coated and supported with pressboard, the binders were sold with either two or three snap-rings to anchor the paper (either 10½" x11¾" x1" or 10½" x11¾" x1½" - advertised as 29cm x 24cm x 4cm). The advertisements for these binders started showing up around April 1964.
The "early 1964 binders" came in various colors - white, beige/tan, grey, blue, hot pink, purple, red, and yellow - with either slightly sharpened or rounded corners. The front cover exhibited a large, highly detailed, sepia-toned Beatles photo (the famous image by photographer Dezo Hoffmann) and scattered facsimile signatures. Interestingly, this early version of the binder featured Paul McCartney brandishing a cigarette in his right fingers. The contraband was "airbrushed out" of the subsequent binders, manufactured by New York Loose Leaf Corporation (labeled the 'mid-1964 issue').
"I carried my white one to school in 4th grade...until the principal sent around a note telling us that no binders were allowed. It was a Catholic school, so I guess they considered it too sexy. Years later, my mom laughed and said that I should thank them because it probably stayed in better shape since I didn't lug it back and forth." - Mary Jo Navarra McIntyre.
Newspaper advertisements for the binders – or "ringbinder" as some ads called them - really put the hard-sell on consumers:
"Famous Beatles Binder…2 or 3 ring binder with photo of The Beatles on cover" priced the item for $1.29, but for "this weekend-64¢!"
Another ad announced:
"The Beatles are here! The Beatle Loose Leaf binder. Beatle Binder Set. 3 Heavy Duty Metal Rings With Metal Base And Boosters. Consists of sturdy Loose Leaf binder, spiral notebook and memo pad. Just 500, limit 1 per customer. 99¢ set."
The 2-ring binder connected with the bubble gum company Fleer Corporation, which produced a 10" x12" x 4½" shipping box for their Dubble Bubble© gum sent to retailers, etc. The bubble gum container held (480) 1¢ pieces of gum and a free Beatles Binder and had the promotion listed on the box as "Deal #166."
"I remember buying this binder in late '64. I was seven years old at the time. I purchased it at Woolworth's at the Interstate Shopping Center in Ramsey, NJ. I don't remember how much, but probably $3 or $4. I used it for homework and drawings I made. I think I had it for just over a year before someone stole it from my desk during recess one day." - Gregory Voutsas.
The New York Loose Leaf Corporation's aforementioned 'mid-1964 issue' binders – whose advertisements came out about August 1964 - were available with two or three rings and manufactured in white. The front cover displayed a larger but less detailed black and white Beatles photo with signatures. Paul McCartney's cigarette had been "airbrushed" out of his hand for this binder design. By mid-1964, Standard Plastic Products (SPP) most likely sub-licensed the binders to the New York Loose Leaf Corporation, and their new binder version was mass-produced through the end of 1964. The New York Loose Leaf Corporation applied for its trademark on August 14, 1962. The brand (US Registration Number 0736031) covered "paper, items made of paper, stationery items, loose-leaf books, and ledger binders." Their trademark design was on the cover of the mid-1964 Beatles binder.
"I got my binders not long ago from a guy in Detroit who had bought a derelict factory and was liquidating it. He came across these binders in a cupboard. They were being used to hold all the previous business's documents!" – Phil Harbour.