Early Beatles Photo under the auctioneer's hammer

Beatles before Ringo Credit: PA

One of the earliest photos of The Beatles in Liverpool's Cavern Club is being auctioned later this month along with a series of other recently unearthed snaps of the the band at the beginning of their career.

The picture, taken in 1961, features Paul McCartney at the front of the stage and Pete Best on drums - a year before he was replaced by Ringo Starr.

A recreation of the stage at Liverpool's Cavern Club. Credit: PA Images

Stephen Bailey - the manager of The Beatles Shop, in Liverpool - said the memorabilia sale includes a series of negatives brought into the Mathew Street store by a man who casually told him: "My father was a professional photographer and these might be of interest to you."

Mr Bailey said the man handed over a series of envelopes of transparencies which all turned out to be in perfect condition.

Another shot which stands out features George Harrison, John Lennon, McCartney and Best posing with six girls.

Mr Bailey said he did some detective work on this photograph and found out it was taken on June 14, 1961, at St John's Hall, Tuebrook, Liverpool - the first date the band played after returning from Hamburg.

He has also traced two of the girls in the picture. One of the others has died, he has learned, but he is still looking for the other three.

"It's a lovely photograph and so evocative of the relationship The Beatles had with their early fans," Mr Bailey said.

"I am very excited about the auction. It just gets bigger and better every year."

Mr Bailey, who has managed The Beatles Shop for 28 years, said there will 330 lots at the auction including rare first, second and third editions of the legendary Merseybeat magazine, published in 1961.

He said these recently came light when another customer calmly walked into the store and said: "I thought that you might like to look at these."

He said he thinks the Cavern Club pictures could fetch £1,500 and the Merseybeat magazine could go for between £2,500 and £3,000.

The Annual Liverpool Beatles Auction will be held in the Paul McCartney Auditorium at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts on Saturday, August 23.

Outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Credit: Press Association