Unique John Lennon 'nonsense alphabet' for sale In 1969, Lennon wrote his own 'abecedarium', the 26 letters each with its own nonsense epithet, first seen in his erotic Bag One lithographs. Now, the unique printer's proof has emerged for auction.
by the new dimension his drawings had taken on, master-printed on the thick luxurious Arches paper. Yoko, too, was excited for John and watched his exuberance with a kind of motherly pride."
A Paris printer had been identified to produce the lithographs, the Crommylynck Brothers, personal printmakers to Picasso but a six-month production delay "... was too long to wait and we decided to let the Curwen Studio take on the project - they had proofed John' s original four prints and their atelier was by far the best in London.
"John became more involved, in his on and off way, and came to visit the Curwen Studio to see the printing process in action. While there, he created the image for the frontispiece, a simple sketch of himself crouched on the ground holding Yoko, which he drew directly onto a zinc plate. John was fascinated by the huge Heidelberg presses and watched intently as one of his own plates was put on for proofing. He had written a long alphabet poem, beginning "A is for parrot which we can clearly see," as an introduction to the portfolio, and he laboriously copied it out onto another zinc plate so that the poem itself would become a lithograph. This brought the total number of prints in the set up to fourteen, and the edition was to be limited to three hundred sets."
Bag One was first exhibited in the London Art Gallery at 22 New Bond Street on January 15 1970 but police raided the gallery on the second day and confiscated eight of the 14 exhibits on the grounds that they were indecent.
The full text of the abecedarium reads:
A is for Parrot which we can plainly see
B is for glasses which we can plainly see
C is for plastic which we can plainly see
D is for Doris
E is for binoculars I'll get in five
F is for Ethel who lives next door
G is for orange which we love to eat when we can get them because
they come from abroad
H is for England and (Heather)
I is for monkey we see in the tree
J is for parrot which we can plainly see
K is for shoetop we wear to the ball
L is for Land because brown
M is for Venezuela where the oranges come from
N is for Brazil near Venezuela (very near)
O is for football which we kick about a bit
T is for Tommy who won the war
Q is a garden which we can plainly see
R is for intestines which hurt when we dance
S is for pancake or whole-wheat bread
U is for Ethel who lives on the hill
P is arab and her sister will
V is for me
W is for lighter which never lights
X is easter - have one yourself
Y is a crooked letter and you can't straighten it
Z is for Apple which we can plainly see