Beatles signatures by Autopen
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.
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.
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.
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.