Beatles signatures by Autopen

Photo: Dezo Hoffmann

Many collectors are in the possession of photos of The Beatles that are apparently signed (often only with first names) by the fabulous four. What these have in common is that they have not been obtained personally in a meeting with The Beatles, but sent as competition prizes or someone has written to the fan club and have been rewarded with these.

But if The Beatles had sat down and signed all the requests for autographs, they wouldn’t have had time for anything else. Therefore, NEMS went to purchase a so-called “autopen”, which is a kind of signature machine.

This is a photo of a Model 50 of these machines, which was produced by “The International Autopen Company”. This machine was commissioned and installed in the White House under President John F. Kennedy. The relatively young president was so popular that requests for autographs poured in in such large numbers that there was no way he would have had time to answer the inquiries personally.

Model 50 of the autopen.

The official fan club of The Beatles operated from Brian Epstein’s NEMS offices in London, and they used this machine in the period 1963 to 1968, so we can find many different photos that have been processed with the autopen from these years.

Thought to be the earliest promotional photo with Autopen signatures, these cards were sent to new members of The Beatles’ fan club.

In some cases, such processed images were also used on record covers and sleeves, on the cover of the Norwegian edition of “Love Me Do”, for example, a promo card image with autographs applied with an autopen adorns the sleeve.

“Love Me Do” was released in Norway as an afterthought, in 1964. Ringo version.

Using the machine, you could also give each autograph an individual colour, so John’s could be blue and George’s black, for example. Everything to give the impression that this has been applied with a ballpoint pen.

Unfortunately, many such photos with autographs applied with autopen have been sold at high prices, as both seller and buyer may have been unaware of this practice. Here are some examples of photos signed with the autopen.

In addition to the autopen, the Beatles’ assistants Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall also signed photos with the autographs of the Beatles, which they had learned to imitate. Even George Harrison learned the signatures of the others, so he could happily sign for them all, which he occasionally did.

7 Responses

  1. JeanFrancois Staehli says:

    Such a disappointment.Bur full of English humor.

  2. vern gibbons says:

    Tony Bramwell also signed items and Beatles checks with his imitation signatures.

  3. Kevin says:

    Whoa! When you see a bunch of these all together, it’s so obvious that it’s the same signature over and over again for each “Beatle”. As only a machine could do.

  4. Claudia says:

    So what is the value of an autopen Beatles photo?

  5. Terry M says:

    Please note: another Fan-Club photo (size- 5×7) from the Beatles Fan Club also needs to be added, and to this list of “auto-pen” photos, it was taken at the last Beatles photo session in August 1969 and was sent out in late 1969 early 1970; a famous shot of the four Beatles standing next to a Oak tree.

  6. Shaniel Ramdayal says:

    Hi everyone! I am currently in possession of the “Love Me Do” was released in Norway as an afterthought, in 1964. (same as above) I am looking to sell the photo, please contact me should you be interested in purchasing. I’ve done some research and found that an auto-pen autograph can go for anywhere between $1000 and $5000. I am open to negotiation regarding prices.

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