I never really “collected” record sleeves, but just got them when I purchased the records as they were released. Not all 45’s came with picture sleeves. Record companies only shipped some that way, and at times those were limited to the first run. Most of the Beatles sleeves are from Capitol Records. When Beatles 45’s started coming out on the Apple label (with “Hey Jude” in 1968), they simply had black sleeves that allowed the Apple logo to show through. That changed, as you can see by “Let It Be”.
Here’s a British EP (extended play 45 rpm record) with 4 songs “Nowhere Man”, “Drive My Car”, “Michelle”, and “You Won’t See Me”, all from the British version of Rubber Soul. Another thing about those British EP’s…check out the center of this record from 1965. It’s made so you can use it with a small hole like an album, or it could be punched out to be the normal larger size 45 rpm hole.
Back when eBay was starting, I sold a mint Four By The Beatles EP. Since this record was unusual, I thought it might become a collector’s item. It had a fairly heavy cardboard cover which I stored in plastic, and the record itself was never played (I had the songs on other records). The songs were “Roll Over Beethoven”, “This Boy”, “All My Loving” and “Please Mister Postman”. I was pleased with the high bid, but maybe I was foolish to sell it. I can’t find a photo of mine (no digital camera back then), but above is a photo of a somewhat worn version.
Update: Finally found the original old photo:
One more British EP. This one has “All My Loving”, “Ask Me Why”, “Money”, and “P.S. I Love You”. Perhaps the most interesting part is the 1964 write-up on the back of the record sleeve by publicist Tony Barrow. He may have been a little over-the-top with the hype:
It seems from the beginning, the order of the names was John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Maybe it was because that’s the order in which the group formed. EP’s were popular in England, but never caught on here.
Above is a limited edition flex disc used to mark the CD release of The Beatles 1962-1966 “Red Album”. It was a giveaway by Musicland., and has the songs “All My Loving” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”. Those songs were never officially released as U.S. singles.
This well-worn sleeve represents how layout artists don’t really care much about musical accuracy. I can understand why they’d flip around John Lennon’s photo so he’d face inward like Paul, but not why they also flipped George Harrison’s photo. Anyway, they’re now both left handed.
And finally…some of my sleeves from solo Beatles.