Forgotten Beatles autographs – left tucked away in a filing cabinet for decades – sparked a global bidding battle at auction.
The autographs, gained by Liz Webster in 1963 after she cheekily barged into the Beatles’ dressing room in 1963, eventually sold to an American internet buyer for £5,600 at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on November 19.
But they could easily have remained lost for many more years as Liz found them by chance in an old diary when she was moving home. She’d forgotten about the famous signatures - gained thanks to some bare-faced cheek 56 years ago.
Grandmother Liz, 74, a retired insurance clerk who originates from Nottingham but now lives in Hampshire, said: “I found the autographs by chance at the bottom of an old filing cabinet when we moved house. They must have been there for about 30 years.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “These precious signatures sparked bidding interest from all over the world, such is the demand for authentic early Beatles autographs. People like Liz who were lucky enough to meet the band in person before Beatlemania exploded, provide collectors with the rich provenance they seek.”
The Fab Four - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison – penned their names in Liz’s 1963 diary at a Nottingham gig – after Liz and her friend Judy Smith barged into the band’s dressing room.
They received a warm welcome - and secured signatures now worth thousands. And it was all down to timing. Beatlemania had not exploded. Despite the fact that Please Please Me was flying high in the charts, the group only mustered a modest crowd at the Elizabethan Ballroom in the Co-Op Building, Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham, on March 7, 1963. Liz and Judy were among them.
By December 1963, a return visit to the Midlands city saw police and ambulances on standby to handle hysterical Beatles fans.
But there was no police presence nine months earlier when Liz and Judy, friends working at Strawsons hairdressers in the city, went to see The Beatles in concert.
Liz recalled: “We were giggly 17-year-olds back then. It was just before The Beatles became really famous. Please Please Me was in the charts but the ballroom was half empty. There must have been about 100 people there.
“The band were so wonderful we decided to try to get their autographs. There were about a dozen girls hanging around outside their dressing room. Judy was the forceful one and she led the way as we barged our way through saying ‘excuse me, excuse me’. There was no security.
“They made us feel really welcome. I dug out my 1963 diary and they all signed it – in fact, John started signing his name and then decided there wasn’t enough room and started again. That’s why there’s a random J on the page. I think I saw Cynthia Lennon, John’s first wife, in the room.”
George Harrison, Liz’s favourite Beatle, also wrote ‘To Liz with love from the Beatles’ across the top of the right-hand page.
The Beatles’ first single Love Me Do reached number 17 in the charts in 1962 while their second single Please Please Me, released in January 1963, soared to No. 2 in the Record Retailer chart, later the UK Singles Chart.
In May 1963, The Beatles performed in Nottingham again and Liz went to that gig too. By that time, they were topping the bill with Roy Orbison at the Odeon.
By December 1963 all police leave had to be cancelled and a fleet of ambulances put on standby for a return gig at Nottingham Odeon. Beatlemania had taken over the world.
The Beatles went on to become 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 were sold on November 19 at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS. To find out more, or arrange a free music memorabilia valuation, email: [email protected].
Hansons holds regular free valuation events in Nottinghamshire and their experts will be at Newark Civil War Centre, 14 Appleton Gate, Newark NG24 1JY on December 3, 10am-1pm.