Beatles autographs from Shropshire concert fetch £4,200 at auction
Beatles autographs signed when the Fab Four played at a town hall in Shropshire have sold for nearly twice their estimate at auction.
The signed piece of paper, bearing the autographs of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, were put up for sale by a Wrexham woman who had held on to them for 56 years.
She had managed to catch up with the band after they performed at Whitchurch's former Town Hall Ballroom on January 19, 1963 – the very night the Fab Four appeared 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.
Auction house Hansons had estimated that the autographs would go for £2,000 to £3,000, but confirmed that they had eventually sold for £4,200.
Jill Gallone, head of media at Hansons, said that there had been strong competition from bidders trying to secure the lot.
She said: "There were two telephone bidders and a lot of bidders on the internet as well. It was quite a battle and an internet bidder won the battle in the end."
The winning bidder was confirmed as a private UK buyer.
The seller, who wishes to remain anonymous, attended the auction and watched as the four autographs she collected on that bitterly cold night in 1963 were sold.
There was relief for the former Ellesmere resident, who is now 72, because she also turned down an offer of £100 for the autographs 20 years ago.
Ms Gallone said that they were delighted with the price secured for the lot and added that the back-story behind the item had been key to the success.
She said: "We are always delighted if something goes well above the estimate, that is a very good result.
"There are a lot of Beatles fake autographs knocking around and that is why this did particularly well, because the vendor had the story. She was happy to share how she got them and that immediately gives it very good provenance."
The seller, who is a retired secretary, said she was "chuffed to bits" with the result.
When she put the lots up for sale she explained how she had got them, saying: “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.
“Because there was so few people there, 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 Please Please Me 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.”