A handwritten letter by Paul McCartney, dated 12 August 1960, inviting an unknown drummer to audition for The Beatles, has been discovered folded-up inside a book, by an anonymous collector at a car boot sale in Bootle, Liverpool.
Revealing new details about the early history of The Beatles, the letter is also one of the earliest occasions that the band referred to themselves as The Beatles. It is not known who the note was addressed to, or if an audition took place.
Three days later, on 15 August 1960, The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Stuart Sutcliffe, along with drummer Pete Best) travelled to Hamburg, where they performed for almost two months.
Before the discovery of this letter, it was not known that The Beatles were searching for a fifth member so close to their departure for Hamburg. Best was dismissed from the band two years later, and replaced by Ringo Starr.
The letter is expected to fetch £7,000 to £9,000 when it is sold at Christie's POPULAR CULTURE: Rock and Pop Memorabilia auctionon 15 November 2011. Within the auction, the Paul McCartney letter is one of a substantial section of over thirty lots dedicated to The Beatles and its individual band members.
Paul McCartney's handwritten letter was
Neil Roberts, Director of Popular Culture, Christie's, commented, "One of the best aspects of my work is the rare occasion when, out of the blue, you are made aware of the existence of something so extraordinary, it alters the knowledge of your specialist field.
"This letter has proved to be such a case. My initial reaction was one of disbelief, but on seeing the item and being able to research the significance of the date and its content as well as conferring with renowned Beatles historians, it has turned out to be much more significant than mere words on paper.
"It is exciting to be able to offer to market a newly discovered important item of Beatles memorabilia, on behalf of an individual who was fortunate enough to find it folded up in a book at a car boot sale."
The letter is expected to achieve £7,000-9,000 ($14,000) in the London sale which takes place on November 15.
As The Beatles continue to make their mark in popular culture - McCartney in particular, who was ranked the 20th most powerful person in entertainment by Forbes magazine in 2011 - this has also been reflected on the collectors' markets.
Photographs documenting The Beatles' earliest days in Hamburg, Germany, taken by Astrid Kirchherr didn't even make it to a recent auction before a collector intervened and snapped up the whole collection.
Meanwhile, Beatles memorabilia values are on the rise. The value of a McCartney signed photograph has risen by 757% over the past 11 years - and 16.67% in the last year alone. This means if you'd bought a £175 McCartney autograph in 2000 it could today be worth £ 1,500 .
If you're on the lookout for quality Beatles collectibles, then quality, rarity and provenance are the key factors. As with these pieces presently for sale at Paul Fraser Collectibles:
Much like Christie's Paul McCartney 'drummer letter' and the exclusive Astrid Kirchherr Hamburg photographs, these photographs illustrate perfectly why Sir Paul continues to enjoy blue chip status the collectibles markets.
Watch this space for more news on Christie's November 15 auction.