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“At the moment it is the US buyers who are driving the market for signed [Beatle] material in particular,” said Sotheby’s Olympia specialist Stephen Maycock.

While some areas of the market have suffered from a drop in the number of American buyers visiting the London salerooms, most of the US bidding at this auction came via the telephone and buyers were happy to place bids after viewing the lots in the catalogue and on Sotheby’s website.

Although the potential best-seller, a guitar thought to have been played by George Harrison in 1963, failed to get away, bought in at £15,000, the rock memorabilia section produced several of the day’s punchiest prices including an autographed 45 together with a four-minute taped local BBC radio interview with the Beatles recorded by the vendor at the height of the band’s fame in 1965.

“I’ve never seen a signed 45 from this period, ever,” said Stephen Maycock. Stiff competition saw this entry pursued to £12,500 by a private UK buyer. Overall, the sale totalled £365,810 with 81 per cent sold by lot.