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Auction: Hasselblad Used to Photo the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Cover

Click the camera for direct lot details
Click the camera for direct lot details

Bonhams London have an interesting item in their 13 Oct 2020 Entertainment Memorabilia sale 13:00 BST.

Let PAN know if you attain the successful bid!

comprising a Hasselblad 500C camera with Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2.8 lens, the viewfinder with applied lines similar to the Abbey Road zebra crossing, supposedly used by Iain to line up with on the day of shooting the cover, together with a Zeiss Distagon 50mm f/4 lens; a tripod; a number of accessories including filters; lightmetres; and a black Nikkormat camera with four interchangeable lenses; all housed in an aluminium camera case labelled IAIN MACMILLAN, and accompanied by a black and white photograph of Iain with the Hasselblad camera around his neck, 15 1/4in x 10 3/4in (39cm x 27.5cm) (Qty)

£ 2,000 – 2,500€ 2,200 – 2,700


  • Provenance:
    Offered directly by the Iain Macmillan archive.

    Having met John Lennon at the Indica Gallery with Yoko Ono in 1966, Lennon later invited Macmillan to photograph the Beatles for the cover of their final album ‘Abbey Road’. Given the Beatles recorded most of their music at the EMI Studios on Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London, they decided to name their last album after the road. Armed with a sketch Paul McCartney had given him a couple of days before of what the picture should look like, Iain knew he didn’t have long to get the right shot for the world’s most famous band.

    On 8th August 1969, at around 11:30 am, a hired policeman stopped the traffic, Iain climbed up a large stepladder in the middle of Abbey Road and took just six pictures of the Beatles crossing the street. In approx 10 minutes Iain shot the band in various orders, but it was frame no.5 that was used for the cover of the album – the only photo where all four of them are striding in perfect formation. 

    “The whole idea was McCartney’s. A few days before the shoot, he drew a sketch of how he imagined the cover, which we executed almost exactly that day. I took a couple of shots of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road one way. We let some of the traffic go by and then they walked across the road the other way, and I took a few more shots. The one eventually chosen for the cover was number five of six. It was the only one that had their legs in a perfect ‘V’ formation, which is what I wanted stylistically. – Iain Macmillan.

    After the shoot, Macmillan went to find a road sign for use on the back cover. Over 50 years on, and the cover for ‘Abbey Road’ by the Beatles is still undoubtedly one of the most iconic album covers of all time.
Click the camera case for direct lot details

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