Ray E. found "Beatles Encounters 1965: Unplanned and Planned"and contacted me in early 2015; his story about a collection of TWA Flight 703 Beatles items he purchased in 1989 follows. He wishes to keep his last name private; the Beatles items on this subpage are for sale. If interested, send an e-mail and I will forward it to Ray.
Purchase of Beatles Autographs
by Ray E.In the '70s and '80s, Antique Mall Shows around Kansas City offered great opportunities to buy and sell collectibles.
Many basements had aging game rooms where jukeboxes (some from the Golden Age, including prized Wurlitzer 1015s with colorful bubble tubes), mechanical slot machines, pinball machines, coin-operated video games, and a variety of other cool stuff (dust collectors to some) resided.
Many hadn't worked in decades and now owners were selling or passing them on to the next of kin.
It was the perfect time and the Midwest, the perfect place.
Blue Ridge Mall
The unexpected often happens, and it happened during my first show at Independence, Missouri's Blue Ridge Mall.
A 1946 jukebox was on display along with a slot machine from the 1940s and hundreds of Rock and Roll 45s, picture sleeves, albums, and a sprinkling of 78-rpm, 10-inch records.
Large hallways encouraged people to shop and purchase antique chairs, dish sets, or hard-to-find, 33-rpm, 7-inch jukebox records and sleeves.
It was a very nice mix for young and old.
A couple approached my table and the wife asked: "Do you have an interest in The Beatles?"
The Beatles played Kansas City in 1964, but I couldn't afford to attend. My 15-year-old next-door neighbor went with her boyfriend but there wasn't room for me. Anyway, I didn't have the cash.
I was close enough to the stadium where they played to hear the screams but not The Beatles, who were drowned out by their fans.
The wife said she had Beatles' autographs obtained by someone who worked with her father at TWA. Some were signed by The Beatles while flying across the Atlantic.
"Sure, I'm interested," I said. But I was suspicious.
They were remodeling their kitchen and wanted to sell their Beatles memorabilia to help pay for the improvements. The wife no longer had the passion for The Beatles she had as a teen.
In 1965, she flew to New York on TWA to see the band at Shea Stadium accompanied by her mother. A dream come true. When I met her, she was in her mid-to-late thirties, just a year or two younger than me.
Everything sounded reasonable.
I needed to see The Beatles autographs in person, I told the wife. One of the albums in my booth had printed, “authentic” signatures for comparison. The couple said they'd be back.
The next day
I had almost forgotten them, when they returned the next day, a cardboard box tucked under the wife's arm.
She pulled out a TWA envelope postmarked August 19, 1965, and inside were a note signed by Bill Liss on TWA letterhead; a sheet with all four Beatles signatures; a Parlophone “Help!” 45, in a green Parlophone sleeve with all four Beatles' first-name signatures; and a black and white photograph with full signatures from all four; some news releases; and various New York newspaper articles about The Beatles' 1965 visit.
I compared the wife's signatures to the printed versions on my Beatles album and they looked remarkably similar.
"How much do you want for all of this?" I asked. They did not know, and I had no clue. "Take these to an autograph dealer in Kansas City," I recommended. "Get an offer; I will pay 20% more."
I didn't expect to see them again. The memorabilia appeared authentic but the autographs? Problematic, I thought.
She put everything back into the carton and left.
Down payment value
The next day, Sunday, the last day of the three-day sale, I was primping my booth and adding items.
Walking towards me were the couple with The Beatles' stuff. They had good news. The autograph dealer was interested and made an offer on Saturday. (She might have mentioned which autograph dealer, but it's too long ago to remember.) I went to my bank, got a cashier’s check on Monday, November 27, 1989, and the collection was mine.
The price? Just a bit less than the down payment on the first home I purchased in 1978. I didn't do much with the collection until March, 1995, when I had the following framed for display:
1. TWA envelope addressed to the parents of the woman I purchased the collection from;
2. TWA letter from Bill Liss describing how he acquired the autographs;
3. Sheet with all four Beatles autographs;
4. Parlophone R5305 "Help!" 45 with first-name autographs of John, George, Paul, and Ringo on the sleeve;
5. Black and white autographed photograph of The Beatles; and
6. Newspaper clippings, press releases, and six more TWA photographs.
This items hung in my office for years; I didn't have certificates of authenticity but was comfortable with their provenance.
Around 2001, I sold the "Help!" autographed sleeve to an individual who bought a slot machine from me. I always regretted the sale which netted not quite 50% of what I paid for the entire trove. Two years later the buyer called about something else and said in a by-the-way manner: “An autograph dealer in Colorado Springs told me the Beatles' autographs on the 'Help!' sleeve are fake.”
I had a sick feeling...but recovered quickly. This was the answer to my regrets about breaking up the group of TWA '65 Beatles mementos. I offered to buy it back. He was at my door within the hour. I gave him $200 less than he paid but he was elated. I was certain these autographs were authentic. It turned out the autograph dealer never saw the signatures in person.
Recently, I decided to cut down on my collection of 25,000 geology and paleontology books and in the process thought now might be a good time to sell my autographs. All of them, Beatles included.
In mid-March 2015, I sent images of my Beatles items to an autograph dealer. He judged the Bill Liss letter authentic but thought the "Help!" signatures and black and white photo were fake. Again, I was put into doubt.
I spent most of a day searching the Internet to compare my autographs, Bill Liss, and TWA reports from 1966. The canceled eight-cent Air Mail stamp appeared to bear the year stamp 1966. I could not understand why The Beatles in 1966 signed a record dated 1965. I put on my glasses (I'm retired you know!) and looked closely. Boom! Clarity. The date was 1965, not 1966. Once I modified my search, the dots were connected.
I found "Beatles Encounters 1965: Unplanned and Planned" with its subpage about Ruth (another TWA-connected teenager in 1965) and hostess Gisa and scans of her "Help!" sleeve and black and white Beatles photograph. I was elated and contacted Ted directly; he asked me to tell my story.
Ringo in orange
I didn't notice Ringo’s faint orange autograph on my black and white glossy but saw it on Gisa's. The signature on mine is not as obvious as Gisa's, but it's clear the autographs were done at the same time, down to Ringo’s orange pen work.
The letter from Bill Liss I have mentions sending the signed envelope to Ruth who lost her Bill Liss letter decades ago but her autographs are authentic and I believe mine are, too. Bill Liss is a real person!
I do not know the value of my collection, but the significance of The Beatles is huge. All these years I had no doubt what I purchased was authentic. It's a pleasure to share my story with other Beatle fans. Bill Liss said it well: "As we oft-time say, nothing is impossible."
August 13, 2015, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of TWA Flight 703.
My story has gone full circle. Real to me. Fake to others. But now further authenticated by the combined memories of Bill Liss, Gisa, and Ruth--who were there.
by Ray E.
I attended the University of Wyoming and the University of Missouri and have a bachelor of science degree in geology, but I've never worked a day as a geologist. I have always enjoyed finding, buying, selling, repairing, restoring, and hunting for anything that captured my imagination or had some mechanical novelty about it. It has always been about the hunt.
The hunt evolved into collections. Once the collection was complete or large, it was time to "move along." Collections were sold or traded as I had seen it all or actually had it in my possession.
Today, people have access to the Internet and know (or believe they know) what a collection is worth. Back in the '60s and '70s, information was scarce. Antique Trader magazine was one of the few guides although I did not subscribe.
I have owned collectibles from saber tooth tiger skulls to craps table dice from casinos. Autographs are not something I have had much interest in. Still don’t and now is a good time to find a new owner with a passion to gather things for their hunt.
My hunt ended the day after I made the purchase.
This photograph in Ray's trove is similar to Gisa's (Beatles Encounters 1965:
Unplanned & Planned) but with the autographs in slightly different places.
Bill Liss mentions Ruth in the above letter.
Autographs obtained by Bill Liss aboard TWA flight 703.
This doesn't fit The Beatles 1965 TWA flight items Ray purchased but was part
of the trove; it actually dates to August, 1966, when The Beatles visited Washington DC.
(Note: When you're on the wrong side of the KKK, you're doing something right.)