I bought a 1961 Cavern Club membership card a while back. It was issued in April 1961 and includes the names of a number of performers, including George, John and Pete of the Beatles. Given that the Beatles were in Hamburg from Feb to July 1961, their entries cannot date from before they returned.
The seller stated outright that the Beatles signatures were not genuine and the price was accordingly very low. I bought the card as it seemed to be a genuine card and interesting just for that. I do not know why the seller stated that the signatures were not genuine rather than just saying that she did not know either way. Perhaps she had asked someone for authentication. After buying this card I also bought a 1960 card from the same seller for a similar price. This has no performer signatures but does have quite an interesting entry from the time of the first Rory Storm gig (more on that another time).
By the general appearance and feel of the cards and the entries in them I find it hard to believe that the signatures have been added recently to deceive. Given the date, I also think it highly unlikely that any of the Beatles signed for the others or that a fan signed. At that time I doubt many fans would have even known or cared what their signatures looked like or would have bothered to reproduce them in some sort of self-delusional act.
I would like to start by sharing the George. I am well aware that nearly everything about this signature is atypical. The only things that give me some hope (and gave me some hope at the time of buying) are the capital G and H, the "rr" in Harrison and the way the letters have been connected. What brings me back down to earth is the general appearance of the signature (flat and stiff). the open letter "o" and the odd "s".
As most will be well aware, there are only a handful of very early "in person" Beatles' signatures on the internet (as opposed to formal contracts and signed salary slips). I have included some fairly early ones below - maybe not as early as July 1961. I think example 3. comes closest to mine but is obviously much looser. I also believe that - in another thread - someone said this might have been signed by Lennon. Example 6. gets close to my very tight lower case lettering and the H of item 7. has a similar feel about it to mine.
The Harrison in my card is signed right on the edge of the page and runs vertically up the page, so whoever signed it had the card turned on its side. I don't know whether this could account for the very flat and tight appearance of the signature. The card is also very small of course, so it would be fiddly to handle and sign anyway.
So after all that:
a) Does anyone think that this has the remotest chance of being a real George?
b) If not, does anyone have any idea who would have signed it, when and why?
c) Does anyone have better in-person examples?
Tomorrow is the Swiss National Day and there will be lots of fireworks in the evening. I feel like I have lit the blue touch paper a day early and need to stand well back!!! Go easy on me!
1. Cavern card 1
2. Cavern card 2
3. Early album page 1
4. Early album page 2
5. Early set 1
6. Early set 2
7. George and Pete (thank you Heritage)
Tracks in the UK had it previously and discovered the George signature on the back when the Paul McCartney signed page attached to the back was removed.
Wow, the John and the George are pretty wild. I don't think I've ever seen a wilder early John. It does have some similarities with my card example (the "Jo" for instance) but obviously a much more convincing example.
Thought I'd post pics of the whole card:
I'm no expert on Cavern Club cards and cannot find anything in the Cavern Club books that I have (by Leigh, Thompson and Greenberg). Does anyone know:
a) Whether there should be more pages? I know that cards for later years had a map and I think more pages.
b) How the membership numbering system worked? 7000+ members sounds a lot for 1961, even if they didn't start the numbering new each year. I saw a later card (from 63 or 64 I think) with a number around the 1000 mark.
c) How the entry records worked and what the entry prices were for members? It looks like it cost 1 shlling and six old pence (7.5p in decimal) up to a certain date and then cost one old penny more.
I did come across the following image of a card that was auctioned way back on 22 December 82 (Sotheby's London - I also have the catalogue itself, estimate £120/£200!). It has a very strange entry record page that just seems to record "Vince" numerous times:
If mine is a complete fake then the faker went to one hell of an effort. I haven't been able to trace any one of the people mentioned in the card but I have checked out certain things, such as the fact that 6 May 1961 was a Saturday. How sad is that!
I'd only seen a 1960 "Johnny" before, signed during some gigs in Scotland, which I think Tracks bought at auction.
I spotted the Sotheby's example the other day. There are a couple of things that bother me about it. These are:
a) The fact that Paul is already proudly writing "The Beatles" above the signatures, and
b) The signatures are so neat and follow a logical order, with Paul and John, then George and finally Pete.
The "Johnny" also bothered me but if you have seen later Johnny signatures I guess that is OK - if it is right I would think the Sotheby's Cavern Club card Johnny must be from one of their first shows at the Cavern in Feb 1961.
Do you know in which months the other 1961 Johnny signatures were obtained?
Thanks Karl, I've dug up that Scottish set and the news story that went with it.
Here are the autographs (I cannot make it bigger or get rid of the red circle):
...and here is the story with the Tracks connection.
I'm not really doubting the Sotheby's card but it is interesting that the other two early examples are signed Johny rather than Johnny.
I actually have more reservations about the Hamburg set. Only Stuart and Pete look convincing to me. The George is very odd indeed.
I've seen at least one other set from that 1960 Scotland Tour (I'm pretty sure it was 'Beatles' on the other set rather than 'Beatals'), incidentally I visited most of the venues that they played on that tour last year...some pretty small and remote places.
Those sets are important for Beatle history because they show that they changed to 'Beatles' before their first Hamburg trip which was often the claimed time of change before those Scotland sets showed up.
Pre-frame is my favourite part of their history and their autographs developed a lot even between 1960-62.
Looking at your card again 'John' doesn't seem too far off for the period but still fake IMO, and why would he use 'Beetles' many months after they first used 'Beatles'? I mean it's not even funny. George and Pete are just too far off on your card IMO.
Anyway it's just my opinion maybe one of the accepted experts would be prepared offer an opinion because it's such an early piece? It would make a great piece of memorabilia a fantastic one if it turned out I am wrong.
Obviously I very much hope you are wrong but in my heart of hearts I doubt it.
My honest opinion is that my John, George and Pete are unlikely to be real based on the few known 1960-61 sets and what came after early in 1962. If I were a betting man, I'd say John has the best chance and perhaps he signed for George too (the To" being more in John's style). I know it's rather early for that.
I doubt very much that the three Beatles' names have been added by the club member or one of her friends for the reasons I've already stated. It could well be, however, that a clever forger has just added the names to some vacant spaces in the card. If they did, they didn't add much to the final price of the card, which was less than 1961 cards generally go for without any signatures, and the forger couldn't have been connected to the seller - as she herself stated that she didn't think they were real.
I certainly know that there are some clever forgers about. I was once seriously considering shelling out £10k on an album supposedly containing no less than four early sets. When I posted the examples on here I was told very quickly that they were forgeries. Here are the four:
I'd still be interested in any opinions on the Johnny Sandon & The Searchers and Remo Four signatures. I know it makes very little difference to monetary value, even if Macca did say that Colin Manley was the best guitarist in Liverpool at the time.
I said at the beginning of this post that the seller also sold me an unautographed 1960 card. I'll post images of that in a new thread tomorrow.
Yes, I think I was one of those that offered the opinion that the 4 sets of early Beatle autographs in that book looked like the work of the same hand.
Going back to the early Scotland tour autographs; I never managed to find a picture of them again although I have definitely seen one before but I did find the auction catalogue description of them that confirms my memory that Paul had written 'Beatles' on that set rather than Stuart's 'Beatals' on the set that you posted thereby confirming use of the name Beatles as early as May 1960.
“A very rare, early set of autographs, 23rd May, 1960, on five pages from an autograph book signed and inscribed during the Beatles’ first ever tour of Scotland, one page signed in blue ballpoint pen by Paul McCartney and George Harrison with their then stage names Paul Ramon and Carl Harrison and by John Lennon as Johnny Lennon, the page additionally inscribed in McCartney’s hand The Beatles, another page signed and inscribed in blue ballpoint pen love Stuart xx [Sutcliffe], additional pages signed and inscribed Thomas Moore, Drums; love Johnny Gentle; and With best wishes, Margie xx.”