Beatles For Sale! Double discovery of TWO complete sets of Fab Four autographs

Beatles For Sale! Double discovery of TWO complete sets of Fab Four autographs

TWO complete sets of Beatles autographs and never-before-seen snapshots of Paul McCartney and George Harrison from a 1963 gig in the Midlands are coming to auction in Staffordshire.

The autograph books – which astonishingly came to light just hours apart during the same valuation – have the rare distinction of bearing all four signatures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

One of the collections for sale with Richard Winterton Auctioneers includes two never-before-seen snapshots of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, photographed at the stage door in Coventry by one fan during her Beatles encounter and treasured alongside the signatures obtained that day.

The autographs go under the hammer at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park, on Tuesday, June 6. Each collection is estimated to fetch £3,000 to £4,000.

Both sets were signed for teenage fans outside local shows during 1963, a year in which The Beatles rarely had a day off with a gruelling schedule including recording sessions, concerts, TV, radio and other appearances.

It was a pivotal year for the Liverpool group as John, Paul, George and Ringo consolidated their position as the UK’s number one band.

‘Hidden treasure’ of Nottingham signatures found in Scotland

The Beatles’ first concert in Nottingham was on March 7 1963 at the Elizabethan Ballroom above the Co-op on Upper Parliament Street.

Nottingham Co-op’s chief security manager John Florio was in the perfect position to chat to the Fab Four when they arrived.

He, wife Fay and their 13-year-old daughter Patricia – known to most of her friends and family as Paddy – were at the concert, met The Beatles and obtained their signatures across two pages of Patricia’s autograph book.

Paul, George and Ringo wrote in pencil, with John inscribing in blue ink ‘To Pat love from John Lennon xxx’.

Paul, George and Ringo wrote in pencil, with John inscribing in blue ink ‘To Pat love from John Lennon xxx’. The collection also includes other music memorabilia plus a Stanley Matthews postcard promoting CWS football boots at the Co-op and a piece of commemorative embroidery marking Nottingham Co-operative’s 1863-1963 centenary.
Paul, George and Ringo wrote in pencil, with John inscribing in blue ink ‘To Pat love from John Lennon xxx’. The collection also includes other music memorabilia and a piece of commemorative embroidery marking Nottingham Co-operative’s 1863-1963 centenary.

The autographs only came to light again recently following Patricia’s death aged 73.

“It’s been a bit of a hidden treasure – we knew they had met The Beatles but we didn’t realise my mum still had the book because they had moved house a number of times,” said daughter Bridget Gray, 48.

“My grandad got to meet a lot of celebrities in his job and the autograph book is a wonderful piece of memorabilia.”

John Florio was originally from Liverpool; wife Fay hailed from Nottingham.

Main photo: Bridget’s nanna Fay Florio, grandad John Florio with their daughter Patricia. Top, Bridget Gray née Kyle with mum Patricia (Paddy) Kyle, née Florio, at Patricia’s house in Ellon, Aberdeenshire; and Fay and John Florio with daughter Patricia Kyle and baby Bridget. (Pictures courtesy Bridget Gray)
Main photo: Bridget’s nanna Fay Florio, grandad John Florio with their daughter Patricia. Top, Bridget Gray née Kyle with mum Patricia (Paddy) Kyle, née Florio, at Patricia’s house in Ellon, Aberdeenshire; and Fay and John Florio with daughter Patricia Kyle and baby Bridget. (Pictures courtesy Bridget Gray)

Paddy and husband Bob Kyle, who passed away in 2010, moved their family to Aberdeenshire in 1979, settling in Ellon.

Mum-of-one Bridget grew up in Scotland but recently moved back to the Midlands and now lives on the Worcestershire/Warwickshire border.

The autograph book’s inside front cover is signed Patricia Anne Florio above the wording ‘best wishes to me from myself’.

Patricia Kyle, John and Fay Florio and Bob Kyle, Patricia's husband. Top: A young Patricia with The Big Three, a Merseybeat band with a close connection to The Beatles. (Pictures courtesy Bridget Gray)
Patricia Kyle, John and Fay Florio and Bob Kyle, Patricia’s husband. Top: A young Patricia with The Big Three, a Merseybeat band with a close connection to The Beatles. (Pictures courtesy Bridget Gray)

As well as The Beatles, it also features The Beatmen of Nottingham and inscriptions from friends and relatives.

The collection includes a photo of Patricia with The Big Three, a Merseybeat band with a close connection to The Beatles, plus Parlophone Records postcards of The Beatles, an autographed Decca postcard of The Bachelors and a Nottingham Theatre Royal leaflet promoting the band as a headline act.

There is also a Stanley Matthews postcard promoting CWS football boots at the Co-op and a piece of commemorative embroidery marking Nottingham Co-operative’s centenary 1863 to 1963.

Coventry fan took snapshots during ‘brilliant’ Beatles meeting

Eight months after the Nottingham gig, on November 17 1963, The Beatles played The Coventry Theatre a year to the day since their first live show in the city.

They had also played at the theatre in February 1963 but now Beatlemania was in full swing.

Fourteen-year-old Gwen Danks and her friends would frequent the stage doors on Sunday afternoons to get autographs.

“We couldn’t usually afford to see the show – it was just something to do on Sundays when you were old enough to catch the bus with your mates,” said Gwen, now 74, whose married name is Payne.

“That day I was actually hoping to see Helen Shapiro perform. She was only two years older than us so she was an icon to us.

“We were waiting outside the theatre when a coach pulled up to bring the stars in. George Harrison was in a car.

“Seeing The Beatles in person was brilliant. They were all standing around and talking. They were quite agreeable and very happy to talk to us.”

Gwen and her friends would frequent the stage doors of The Coventry Theatre on Sunday afternoons to get autographs and met The Beatles on November 17 1963. Paul McCartney's signature is on the reverse of the page featuring George Harrison and John Lennon.
Gwen and her friends would frequent the stage doors of The Coventry Theatre on Sunday afternoons to get autographs and met The Beatles on November 17 1963. Paul McCartney’s signature is on the reverse of the page featuring George Harrison and John Lennon.

As luck would have it, Gwen had appropriated her brother Graham’s camera and managed to take black and white photographs of Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

“It was one of those cheap plastic cameras,” she remembered.

“I pinched it for the afternoon and I was trying not to use up all the film!”

Gwen also obtained the autographs of all four Beatles, later sticking in her ticket stub for the concert on the page next to Ringo Starr’s signature.

The opposite page features George Harrison and John Lennon with Paul McCartney’s signature is on the reverse.

A young Gwen Payne, née Danks, pictured next to her dad’s car at Woburn Abbey – the very day she bought the autograph album which was signed by The Beatles. Top: Gwen affixed her ticket stub for the concert on the page next to Ringo Starr’s signature. (Main photo courtesy Gwen Payne)
A young Gwen Payne, née Danks, pictured next to her dad’s car at Woburn Abbey – the very day she bought the autograph album which was signed by The Beatles. Top: Gwen affixed her ticket stub for the concert on the page next to Ringo Starr’s signature. (Main photo courtesy Gwen Payne)

“It was only later I noticed my mistake in that when you handed the autograph book to them it was the right way around – but that meant that when they signed it, the autographs were upside down in the book!” Gwen added.

“From what I remember, the concert was great but having such brilliant souvenirs was the icing on the cake.”

The show was to be The Beatles’ final concert in Coventry and years later Gwen was delighted to see an advertising poster for it displayed at The Cavern in Liverpool.

Now widowed with two children and one grandchild, Gwen has lived her whole life in Coventry and worked in an accounts office before retirement.

Coventry Beatles autographs - Gwen Payne used her brother’s camera to take snapshots of Paul McCartney and George Harrison on the day she obtained all four Beatles' signatures.
Gwen used her brother’s camera to take this snapshot of Paul McCartney on the day.

She still has a number of Beatles records from the 1960s, which were treasured birthday and Christmas presents.

The Beatles’ signatures feature in a Woburn Abbey autograph book, which also includes the 13th Duke of Bedford and his wife who signed when the album was purchased.

Other pages are packed with signatures of more stars who visited The Coventry Theatre including The Springfields – featuring the legendary Dusty – plus Helen Shapiro, The Kinks, Cliff Richard, Cilla Black, Kenny Lynch, Joe Brown, Brenda Lee and Del Shannon.

Another autograph book of Gwen’s includes Gene Pitney, Peter and Gordon, Tommy Quickly, The Honeycombs, Dave Berry, The Cruisers, Cilla Black, The Zombies, The Applejacks and A Band Of Angels.

Coventry Beatles autographs - Gwen Payne used her brother’s camera to take snapshots of Paul McCartney and George Harrison on the day she obtained all four Beatles' signatures.
Gwen also photographed George Harrison.

The year of 1963 was huge for The Beatles, whose debut LP Please Please Me was released on March 22.

Sophomore album With The Beatles, bookended by the landmark 45s She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand, followed eight months later and the band also released three EPs including Twist and Shout – the best-selling extended play release of the year.

Later in the year they appeared on Sunday Night At The London Palladium in front of a TV audience of 15,000,000 viewers, gave the landmark Royal Command Performance and Lennon and McCartney were dubbed ‘the outstanding English composers of 1963’ by The Times’ music critic William Mann.

A few months later at the start of 1964 they went to America and embarked on the next leg of the journey to global superstardom.

“Sixty years on from their early days which snowballed into Beatlemania, the Fab Four retain a legendary status across the world with an unsurpassed legacy,” said auctioneer Richard Winterton.

“The global fascination with The Beatles is underlined by continuing new projects, such as Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary series Get Back, and cemented by Paul McCartney’s historic performance at last year’s Glastonbury with more than 100,000 people watching 80-year-old Paul become the festival’s oldest headliner.

Two sets of complete Beatles autographs will go under the hammer of auctioneer Richard Winterton on June 6.
Two sets of complete Beatles autographs will go under the hammer of auctioneer Richard Winterton on June 6.

“It’s fab to have a one complete set of Beatle signatures with such impeccable provenance; to have two come to light within hours of each other is remarkable.

“Those autographs, happily signed to put smiles on the faces of teenage fans, have taken on huge significance.

“As a lifelong Beatles fan, to talk to someone who met all four Beatles right at the very start of their gigantic journey is fascinating.

“And in the case of one of the collections here, there are even photos taken on the day of signing, giving us a never-before-seen snapshots of Paul and George right on the cusp of the explosion of Beatlemania.”

The autographs feature in Day Two of Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Antiques & Home Sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre on Tuesday, June 6, starting at 9.30am.

The catalogue will be online a week before the sale via our Auction Dates page and viewing in person takes place on Friday, June 2, from 10am-4pm.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers offers free valuations of all types of antiques and collectables at the Fradley Park saleroom as well as other pop-up sessions across the area including Burntwood Library on the last Tuesday in the month.

The next drop-in session at the library on Sankeys Corner, Bridge Cross Road, is scheduled for 12.30pm to 2pm on May 30.

To book valuations or to discuss house clearances and large collections, email office@richardwinterton.co.uk or telephone 01543 251081.

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