A woman who bagged The Beatles autographs just before the band hit the big time – then stuck them in a cupboard for 56 years - was overwhelmed to watch the signatures sell for thousands of pounds.
Two phone bidders battled with internet bidders at auction to own the scrap of paper signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr more than half a century ago.
And when the gavel finally fell at Hansons Auctioneers (October 22) the price had reached £4,200 - smashing the original estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
The seller, a 72-year-old retired secretary from Wrexham who did not wish to be named, travelled to Hansons’ saleroom at Etwall, near Derby, to watch The Beatles magic unfold – and was overwhelmed by the phenomenal result.
She said: “It was amazing to be there and see all the bids flooding in. I felt quite emotional. Of course, I’m delighted with the result - chuffed to bits. Around 20 years ago, someone offered £100 for the autographs. I’m glad I held on to them.”
The seller also watched in amazement as a small collection of Beatles and 1960s music memorabilia she had cherished for decades, including magazines, sold for £260 from an estimate of £80-£100.
She met The Beatles at a gig in Shropshire on January 19, 1963 - the very night the Fab Four were on Saturday night TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, an appearance which changed their fortunes.
Please Please Me had just been released as a single and fame and fortune were a whisker away. But, just before Beatlesmania exploded, the band performed at a gig during one of the worst British winters on record – and hardly anyone turned up to.
The vendor said: “I went to see them on a bitterly cold night in January, 1963. I was living in Ellesmere, Shropshire, at the time. I was only 16 and still at school but I was allowed out with a group of friends as we knew the backing group, The Strollers.
“The Beatles were playing at the Town Hall Ballroom in Whitchurch. But hardly anyone was there. The room was pretty empty. There was no atmosphere. I’d heard of The Beatles but they weren’t well known at the time. I think the cold kept people away too. There was snow on the ground and the temperatures were sub-zero.
“It was quite relaxed and we got to chat to The Beatles and ask for autographs. We spent about 15 minutes with them. I remember John Lennon plonking away on the piano after the gig. At the time I didn’t even know Ringo Starr’s name. They were all really nice to us.
“I asked Paul McCartney for his autograph and, as he wrote it, he said out loud, ‘to the most beautiful girl in the world, with all my love and affection’. I expect he said that to all the girls. He was only joking but it’s been my claim to fame ever since!
“It was just before The Beatles made it big. On the same day they performed on ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars. I saw them perform later on in the 60s but by then they were huge.
“I framed the autographs and put them away in a cupboard for 56 years. I was worried the names would fade if I left them in the light. I wasn’t sure how much the autographs were worth. I thought they might go down in value the longer I kept them.”
Claire Howell, music memorabilia specialist at Hansons, said: “This was a fantastic result and I’m delighted for all concerned. It’s unusual to see an authentic set of full Beatles autographs from their early days. Ringo Starr only joined the band in 1962 following their formation in Liverpool in 1960.
“Our vendor got to see the band just before they became hot property. Their single Please Please Me was released in the UK on January 11, 1963 during one of the worst winters in British history. On January 19 – the day of the Whitchurch gig - most of the population were snowed-in at home watching the Beatles on Thank Your Lucky Stars.
“On February 11, 1963, less than a month after our vendor went to that gig, the Beatles recorded their debut LP, Please Please Me. By 1964 the band were international stars. I think she can thank her lucky stars that she had the chance to meet them just before they became global superstars.”
The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over 800 million albums worldwide. They are also the best-selling music artists in the US. In the UK, they’ve had more number-one albums and sold more singles than any other act.
The Beatles autographs from 1963 were sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, on October 22. To find out more or to arrange a free music memorabilia valuation, email [email protected].