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Original Artwork for Led Zeppelin’s Debut Album Headed to Auction

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Original Artwork for Led Zeppelin’s Debut Album Headed to Auction

George Hardie’s stipple tracing of Sam Shere’s Hindenburg photo expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000

By Jon Blistein

The original artwork on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 self-titled debut album will be auctioned off via Christie’s during a sale scheduled for June 2nd through 18th.

lzi_cover-art.jpg

The cover was designed by George Hardie and based on photographer Sam Shere’s famous 1937 photograph of the Hindenburg disaster. It’s estimated to fetch between $20,000 to $30,000, and Christie’s senior specialist of Books and Manuscripts, Peter Klarnet, tells Rolling Stone, “In terms of rarity, this is a unique object — I don’t think you can get rarer than that.”

Hardie designed the piece while he was a graduate student at the Royal College of Art in London after his friend, the photographer Stephen Goldblatt, had recommended him to Zeppelin. After rejecting Hardie’s first few cover ideas, guitarist Jimmy Page suggested he do something with Shere’s Hindenburg picture. For his take on the photo, Hardie used tracing paper to recreate the image in stipple — a style of drawing using small dots — to give it the same feel as a low-resolution newspaper photo.

Led Zeppelin reportedly paid Hardie just £60 for his work, although when he uncovered the original stipple tracing years later it had a note attached to it that read, “George’s pension fund.”

“The historical significance of this album cover cannot be understated,” Klarnet says. “It marked a major turning point in the history of pop music, heralded by the debut of Led Zeppelin. It was louder, bolder than what had come before and would come to define the shape of hard rock for generations. This simple rendering of the Hindenburg exploding over Lakehurst stands as a monument to that important historical moment. And the image has endured in a way that most other album covers have not — it very much has taken on a life of its own.”

Hardie would go on to design album covers for bands like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Wings, often as part of the London-based design group Hipgnosis. Klarnet says Hardie’s Led Zeppelin cover “certainly helped him establish what became a long and successful career in the field. Yet in his mind, it was only a simple tracing of a photograph — and little more. Yet, the manner in which he traced the Hindenburg photograph, he managed to re-work it in a way that both evoked the past while simultaneously projecting what was to come. It’s because of its simplicity that it became an extremely powerful image that in many regards transcends what Sam Shere captured in the original photograph.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/led-zeppelin-album-original-cover-art-george-hardie-auction-995569/

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Prediction: It will sell for more than $20,000 to $30,000. They should have offered it at the height of the 50th Anniversary activity though.

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It will likely find it's home in a residence of a private bidder, a ME Saudi Prince!!

Should have had Auction Kings in Atlanta sell it --  That would have made a good episode!!

 

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When the designer of this iconic album cover met Led Zeppelin

As his original artwork for Led Zeppelin’s debut LP comes to auction, the revered designer George Hardie recalls his first meeting with the legendary rock band

In 1969, while George Hardie was still an art student at the Royal College of Art, he was summoned to the attic office of RAK Records on Oxford Street in London to meet Peter Grant, the larger-than-life manager of a new group called Led Zeppelin.

Hardie had been recommended to the moustachioed Goliath after adding the typography to Jeff Beck’s recent album, Truth. ‘I sat biting my nails. Opposite me sat four musicians biting theirs,’ recalls Hardie.

RAK Records was situated near the Marquee Club in Soho, where a small queue was forming to see the newly formed British rock band play live for the first time.

‘Every so often one of them, a blond, would set off down the stairs to the Marquee and arrive back, puffing, to report on the growth of the queue.’ The blond was singer Robert Plant.

Inside the office, Hardie presented his ideas for the cover of the rock band’s debut album, a design based on an old club sign from San Francisco. It was rejected by a ‘thin dark-haired man’, who turned out to be the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page.

It was The Who’s raucous drummer, Keith Moon, who had suggested the name Led Zeppelin after a humorous conversation with Page about being in a group together, and their chances of going down like a lead balloon. So Page wanted an image inspired by a photograph of the Hindenburg Zeppelin exploding into flames that was taken by Sam Shere in 1937.

‘So I set to, and with my finest Rapidograph, dot-stippled a facsimile of the famous photograph some seven inches square on a sheet of tracing paper,’ says Hardie.

The artist admits he had no idea then that the extravagantly hirsute band would become so successful and that their album, Led Zeppelin I, would go on to sell millions of copies. There is even a lithograph of the album cover held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Hardie was paid £60 for the artwork, which he says he was quite happy with. ‘I think the drawing made a good and memorable cover, but this was more to do with the photograph and Jimmy Page’s choice of it than with my skill as a dotter,’ he says modestly.

Today, as well as being responsible for some of the world’s most iconic album covers, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon  and Technical Ecstasy  for Black Sabbath, Hardie is a celebrated illustrator and designer. His clean, geometrical drawings are instantly recognisable on book covers and postage stamps.

Quote

Hardie was clearing out his studio when he found the original tracing for ‘Led Zeppelin I’  at the bottom of a plan chest. It had ‘G’s pension fund’ written on the folder

 

Hardie’s relationship with Led Zeppelin continued through the design collective Hipgnosis. ‘We did some good work for them,’ he acknowledges — notably his design for their 1976 album Presence. The artist’s surreal collage of a happy suburban family seated around a strange, primeval statue was as disconcerting as it was humorous.

A few years ago, Hardie was clearing out his studio when he found the original tracing for Led Zeppelin I  at the bottom of a plan chest. ‘It was unsullied, in a clean folder on which one of my partners had written years ago, “G’s pension fund”.’

The original artwork for Led Zeppelin I  by George Hardie will be offered in Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts including Americana during Classic Week at Christie’s, 2-18 June, Online.

https://www.christies.com/features/George-Hardie-original-artwork-for-Led-Zeppelin-I-10500-1.aspx

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^^^

That reads almost verbatim the promotional release for the prints George Hardie produced in association with Record Art in 1990, to coincide with the release of the Led Zeppelin Boxed Set. (A total of about 10,000 prints were produced, with 200 signed AND sequentially numbered by George Hardie). It's the perfect write up though so I can see why they would use it for this auction. 

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