It's a common misconception that since the Beatles were so popular all of their music must be well known and all of their records are readily available. However, that's an easy mistake to make and far from the truth. In the midst of Beatle Mania, records often sold out within days of hitting the shelves. Therefore, several printings of each record had to be made in order for the customers' need to be satisfied. With only a quick glance or limited knowledge, many different printings look similar to the print before and after it. A trained eye, however, can spot differences a mile away and those differences are what distinguish a common record from a rare Beatles record that can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The White Album has caused quite a bit of controversy over the years with its rarity. At the time of printing, Capitol Records printed serial numbers on their albums. Collectors put great emphasis on having the lowest possible serial number and the lower the number, the higher the value of the record. For years, collectors have tried to figure out who has A0000001, the very first printing of The White Album. In the book Anthology, Paul McCartney is quoted as saying "John, I think, got the first one. He shouted loudest!" Years later, Ringo Starr would say "I got number one-because I'm lovely... I got number one here and number four in America." As of today, there have been around 25 reported copies of The White Album serial number A0000001. An anonymous employee at the printing company contracted to print the cover has claimed to have printed twelve covers with the same serial number as a present for his friends and family. While no one knows the exact number of albums with the supposed first serial number, to own a White Album with a serial number under A0000500 is to own several thousand dollars.
Arguably the rarest Beatles album is "Paul's Christmas Album". According to urban legend, Paul McCartney recorded this album as a Christmas present for his fellow band members. Only four copies were pressed, one for Paul, John, George, and Ringo. One copy most likely burned when Ringo's house in L.A. caught fire, ruining the majority of his Beatles collection. Supposedly John Lennon's copy was stolen while Westwood One went through his collection to put together the Lost Lennon Tapes Series. As for the other two copies, it is unsure who has possession of them at this moment.
Rare Beatles albums are often on display at Beatles conventions like BeatFest, sold online or in Beatles memorabilia stores, or if you are very lucky, you may be able to find one searching through the bins at your local music store. Wherever you find a rare Beatles album, however, it is important that you go to a reputable source to have it verified as a legitimate piece of Beatles merchandise. Otherwise, you may spend up to thousands of dollars on nothing more than fake vinyl and forged pictures.