Retired Kenilworth teacher sells set of Beatles autographs for nearly £8k at auction
By James Smith
15th Jun 2022 | Local News
A set of Beatles autographs which were smudged by John Lennon's greasy fingers as he ate fish and chips have sold for nearly £8,000.
A nervous teenage girl plucked up the courage to bag the Fab Four's signatures as they tucked into a chippy lunch at a TV studio in Birmingham in 1963.
It resulted in George Harrison's autograph including John Lennon's greasy finger smudge as the stars penned their names mid-lunch.
The message reads: "love from The Beatles. Ringo Starr xxx - Paul McCartney xxx - George Harrison xxx - John Lennon xxxx".
The 59-year-old book, which was also signed by the group's manager Brian Epstein, was expected to fetch between £4,000-£4,500 at auction.
But a three-way international bidding war saw the price rocket before the hammer came down on the winning bid of £7,760 at today's auction.
The seller, a 73-year-old retired teacher from Kenilworth, said: "It was an excellent, exceptional auction result. I'm delighted - thrilled.
"And I've got a special thank-you. It's for Paul, Ringo, George and John."
She met her idols after her friend's mum blagged back-stage passes before recording a TV programme.
She added: "I was really, really lucky - and privileged - to get those autographs that day.
"I remember absolutely everything about it all. It was a lovely summer's day 59 years ago.
"I was only 14 at the time. My friend's mother worked in the design department at the
ABC Weekend Television Studios in Aston, Birmingham, and the Beatles were filming there on June 23, 1963.
"They were in the city to pre-record a performance for TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars which was broadcast on June 29, 1963.
"My friend's mother arranged for us to go backstage. We walked into the canteen and there they were – The Beatles.
"It was pretty quiet. No one was bothering them. I suppose people had been told to leave them alone.
"They were queuing up at the food counter and they all plumped for fish and chips.
"We were very nervous but managed to pluck up the courage to approach them.
"I went over to Paul McCartney first and wished him happy birthday. His birthday's on June 18, which was a few days earlier.
"He signed my autograph book first, wrote 'love from The Beatles' and passed it round the table.
"John was the last to sign. They'd been picking up chips with their fingers and I remember him licking his lips and rubbing his fingers on his trousers to try to get the grease off before he signed.
"He still put a greasy smudge on George Harrison's name. It was one of those old blotchy Biros. I suppose the inky smudge contains John Lennon's DNA.
"They were all so lovely to us, chatty and kind. It was very early days for The Beatles so perhaps the novelty of signing autographs hadn't worn off.
"We could hear loads of screaming girls outside the window of the canteen hoping for a glimpse of them.
"We watched the band perform for the show and you couldn't hear the music because there was so much screaming going on in the audience.
"On the same day we bumped into Brian Epstein walking down a staircase. He was over the moon to give us his autograph – really delightful.
"I've treasured the autographs for decades and kept them carefully wrapped up in polythene, usually on a book shelf. They've moved house with me many times.
"I only sold them because my friend, whose mother got us backstage that day, lost her set of Beatles autographs which she got at the same time.
"I plan to share the proceeds with her. It seems only fair. Without her mother I would never have them.
"It's time for someone else to enjoy and treasure them."
Claire Howell, music memorabilia consultant at Hansons Auctioneers, said: "There was strong interest in these autographs because the fight-and-chips story and provenance was so fantastic.
"A phone bidder and people competing on two different online bidding platforms battled for the lot.
"It's a wonderful piece of music memorabilia and I'm pleased to see it achieve the price it deserved for our client."