The following illustration guide to Beatles autographs is presented by Frank Caiazzo of The Beatles Autographs®. Mr. Caiazzo is widely recognized as the number one Beatles handwriting expert in the world.
© 2012, 2020 The Beatles Autographs and may not be copied or reproduced
1. The Beatles - John, Paul George and Pete. The occasion for the appearance of this promotional photocard was Fan Club Night, presented by the Beatles Fan Club, April 5, 1962 at the Cavern Club. Upon admission each patron received an unsigned card. Quite a few of these cards were signed after the show for fans (mostly female) who lined up for their autographs.
2. These two sets are among the earliest with the Beatles as we now know them: John, Paul, George and the newly inducted Ringo. Both date from September/October 1962, shortly after Ringo joined the group.
3. Two Parlophone Records promotional photocards signed on the reverse, circa November/December 1962 and January/February 1963. These Parlophone cards were sent to the Beatles by the hundreds to sign for promotional purposes shortly after they got their big break, in the form of a recording contract. Although these cards were signed to no one in particular most of the time, occasionally some do turn up with an inscription to an individual.
4. This album page was signed February 20, 1963, at a point when both John and George made changes in the appearance of their signatures, starting with the first letters in their first names. In this set George has drawn a star under his name in a mocking fashion towards Ringo, who has filled in "DRUMS" to the left of the star, something he used to write in his days with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
5. Late February 1963. John signed twice (first names and "L" only the second time). His "J" is made two different ways as he was searching for a new autograph identity. Also, note the difference in the "L". This is how his signature would look only a few months later.
6. This set was obtained after the Beatles performed in Bristol on March 15, 1963. George has now started to complete the first "G" in his name and connect it to the "e", although in these early examples of his complete "G" they are both pointed at the bottom and on the left. His "G" would become more rounded in the next month or two. John has now changed his "J" permanently and is beginning to use a different "e", one that more resembles a capital "E", as his lower case "e" in "Lennon". He would evolve much more slowly than the other two.
7. This album page was signed after a performance in Croydon, Surrey on April 25, 1963. John's signature is coming along in the evolutionary process. It is interesting to see he has signed twice. Note some of the differences between the two signatures. George is now beginning to round off his "G". Although not quite keeping pace with John and George, Paul started to connect the "M" to the double "C" and Ringo began to underscore his signature (after drawing a star), in one continuous stoke, first to the left towards the "i", then back to the right towards the double "r". Previously he underlined his signature with two separate lines.
8. This Please Please Me LP was signed in mid-June 1963, while The Beatles were in Salisbury. Paul was experimenting at this time with an elongated "P" which descended quite a bit below the plane of his signature. Also, in this example, his "l" is flat with no loop. All four of these signatures are great examples from this time period and are all extremely large in size, with the McCartney signature measuring five inches across.
9. These two sets are from July 1963. Already we see quite a bit of transformation from just five months earlier. 1963 was a tremendous year for The Beatles in terms of the number of autographs they signed. Accessible and almost inexhaustible, they crisscrossed the English countryside touring and building a massive following.
10. This is the reverse of a backstage pass for "The Royal Command Performance" before the Queen Mother on November 4, 1963. This was indeed a momentous occasion in their career. They signed a lot after the show; however, many sets from that evening look quite dissimilar.
11. By year's end 1963, their signatures bore little resemblance to examples from just 12 months prior. John and George made the most drastic changes, while Paul and Ringo refined their autographs slowly but steadily with each passing month.
12. On February 7, 1964, The Beatles boarded Pan Am Flight 101 on their maiden voyage to the United States. This card was signed about one hour before they touched down at New York's JFK Airport. Inscribed by George: "Dear Monica, Best wishes from the Beatles". Elsewhere in the plane, Neil Aspinall was busying signing hundreds of 8" x 10" photographs.
13. Menu signed March 10, 1965 after shooting sequences for their second feature film, Help! Right: This set was signed August 27, 1965 - the night The Beatles met Elvis Presley.
14. This menu was signed on September 13, 1967 during a three-day stay at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay. Note John's two-stroke "J", a typical characteristic of his signature from the transitional period of late February to early March 1963. It seems that George Harrison also had a flashback, drawing a star and line under his signature like Ringo Starr (in another mocking fashion), which he did from time to time shortly after Starr joined The Beatles.
15. There are very few examples of all four signatures from 1968 or 1969. Rare indeed, and almost certainly obtained by someone hanging outside of Apple Headquarters or EMI Abbey Road Studios.
16. This is the flyleaf of the first "official" Beatles biography by Hunter Davies, titled simply The Beatles. This was signed individually over a period of several months in mid-1969 for noted "Apple Scruff" Carol Bedord. The pen Paul McCartney was using ran out mid-signature, so his is two-tone, first blue, then black. This is one of the last existing sets of all four signatures signed for a fan while they were still a group.
17. The solo-era signature of John Lennon is much misunderstood, and forgeries are plentiful. While certain characteristics are evident in all of his signatures, the overall appearance could change even over short periods of time. Here are examples of his signatures from the 1970's. Left: top to bottom: examples from 1970, 1972, 1973, and 1975 in which he has written "love" and added facial caricature as well as the year "75". Right top: again "love" with caricatures of himself and Yoko, for whom he has signed, and the year "76". Below: "love", caricature and "77".
18. The first three are from contracts signed in December 1974. The first is dated December 6 and the next two are dated December 29. The differences are fairly evident, especially interesting for a short period. Bottom right: a check signed in February 1976. Right, top to bottom: three signatures signed May 16, 17 and 18, 1975. Bottom: a check signed in February 1978. A very lazy signature. Ones that look similar have been called "secretarials", although it is not so. No checks were signed by secretaries.
19. McCartney's solo-era signature has undergone some changes, but certainly not as drastic as Lennon's. Top: "All the best!" from 1976. Middle: 1978. Bottom: 1986. Right, top and middle: two rushed examples circa 1990. McCartney doesn't always give a full signature. Bottom right: a nice full, clean example from 1990.
20. Harrison's signature has certainly come a long way since the early days. Throughout his solo career, his signature has become tighter and more curvilinear. Left, top to bottom: examples from 1971, 1974 and 1980. Note the Sanskrit symbol on the 1974 example. Right, top to bottom: 1981 (Sanskrit symbol again), 1988 and 1990.
21. Starr's signature has remained fairly consistent. Subtle changes took place until about 1992, when he stopped signed his full name, replacing his complete signature with "Ringo" and a star to the right.
22. Neil Aspinall signed more than one thousand times for The Beatles. Compare this example with authentic examples illustrated earlier and you will begin to see differences. Proportional problems with the "McCartney"; notice how he makes his star under "Ringo"; the "J" in "John" spears right through the 'h"; the elongated "Harrison" signature - all the while looping a vowel that shouldn't be, a natural characteristic of Neil's handwriting.
23. Mal Evans did a bit of signing, although he was not technically as good as Neil. The problems should be obvious with a little studying. There are not many of his signatures out there, as he signed only when Neil couldn't - which wasn't often.
24. Fan Club Secretarials, signed by women who worked in some capacity within The Official Beatles Fan Club, which was deluged with thousands of autograph requests. This is what you would get back, signatures done well enough to satisfy an unsuspecting teenage fan.
25. This is a forgery from a Frenchman that has had reasonable success over the past five years. Most forgers are either from the U.S. or England, those who are halfway decent anyway. His strength, as you can see, is his "McCartney", which is very well executed, along with a good version of Paul's "Beatles". His "John", "George" and "Ringo" are very consistent in terms of the errors he makes.
26. No doubt about it, the one who did these is very good - technically the best active Beatles forger now known. That's why he gets two illustrations because, if he's anything, he's consistent. These are being created in England. Notice how he writes their names and group name on the page, as someone might do immediately after watching The Beatles sign for them. The set on the right is pieced together from tow obviously aged leafs of paper. The reason we put them side by side is to see if you can pick out the congruities. Aside from his "connecting" the McCartney signature on the right and using a small "e" in Lennon, these signatures look fairly identical. They almost look like clones of one another. This guy makes consistent errors. We will go through just a couple (we don't want him to correct everything!). The "t" in Starr always leans away slightly from the "S', rather than maintaining more of a parallelism. It's slight but easily detectable. Another problem is the way he starts his "L" in Lennon. It comes up from the right, then curves up and around downward on the left side, continuing downward to form the "L". John Lennon did not come up and around like that because when he got to the "L", he was coming from the "n" in John. He would be coming to the "L" from the right, and you could see a trail in from the right, but not below, as his pen had no reason to be there, particularly on a "John" over "Lennon" style signature such as this.
27. As mentioned earlier, handwritten lyrics are just about the best you can do when it comes to Beatles collecting. At top is the short section of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, with a line or two filled in by McCartney as Lennon got a case of writer's block. Below is the beginning few lines of Penny Lane in Paul's hand with a few corrections. A working draft, but probably not the absolute first draft.
28. This is a gem - the first two-thirds of I Am the Walrus in Lennon's hand. This is a rewrite, more than likely for studio purposes, with only a couple of corrections. A complete key Lennon composition in his hand could sell for up to $150,000, which puts him in a class with Bach and Schubert.
© 2012, 2020 The Beatles Autographs. Used by kind permission.