John Lennon's tie set to fetch £20,000 at auction

Joyce McWilliams with the knitted tie given to her by John Lennon Credit: Paul Keaveny/PA

A tie which used to belong to John Lennon is among the rare items set to go under the hammer at the Beatles 22nd Annual Memorabilia auction in Liverpool.

The black knitted tie was discovered by retired civil servant Joyce McWilliams, 66, who found it, along with some rare signed postcards, when she was clearing out her house.

Mrs McWilliams, who was handed the tie by Lennon himself at Liverpool's Cavern Club, is now set to make around £20,000 from her finds.

She walked into the Beatles Shop, in Mathew Street in the heart of the Cavern Club quarter, with five rare autographed photographs of the Beatles, wondering if they were valuable.

Stephen Bailey, shop manager for 20 years, said: "She said she was having a clear-out at home and came across them in a drawer.

"I asked her if she had any more items and she returned a few days later with John Lennon's black knitted tie."

Mrs McWilliams, from the Wirral, had obtained the tie and the autographed photographs in 1962 when she was a 15-year-old trainee comptometer (key-driven calculator) operator and used to attend the lunchtime sessions at Liverpool's famous Cavern Club.

She said: "The Beatles were recording some numbers and I was sitting on the edge of the stage holding the microphone stand. It was very hot in the club and John asked me to lend him a handkerchief to mop his brow with.

"He handed it back to me and loosened his tie when I said 'I thought you were going to give me your tie' and he just handed it to me."

She took the tie and handkerchief home.

"I was absolutely heartbroken when my mother told me that she had washed the handkerchief," Mrs McWilliams added.

Mr Bailey said: "I just cannot believe it. Every year we think that the quality and number of rare items offered for auction must decrease and we are always proved wrong. It is amazing - people just keep coming into the shop month after month with the most unusual rare items."

At this year's auction at the Paul McCartney Auditorium at the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts in Mount Street, worldwide interest will be focused on 322 items to go under the auctioneer's hammer.

The auction is timed to coincide with The Beatles Worldwide Convention in Liverpool on Saturday August 24.

"Early inquiries about this year's auction have attracted interest in America, Japan and all over Europe. There are some very rare items for sale," said Mr Bailey.

Mrs McWilliams' collection includes The Beatles with Pete Best photograph signed on the reverse by five Beatles "with lots of love" and twenty nine kisses "from The Beatles".

It is a very rare set of autographs as it includes both Ringo Starr and Pete Best. They are set to fetch between £4,750 and £5,500.

Also included in the auction are:

:: A hand-written thank you card from George Harrison dated January 1 1970, which reads "Dear Ken (and EMI) Thanks a lot for the Honda. It was a complete surprise, and the best present I've had for a long time. Many thanks and good wishes for the future years" and signed by George (£1,750 - £2,000)

: A hand-written letter from John Lennon dated February 3 1970. "Dear Ken and all at no 20! thank you for the bike - it's great, Yoko and I ride all over the garden on it ! With love from John + Yoko. PS we only just found your letter today ( Feb 1 70) PPS watch for INSTANT KARMA!!" and includes a John and Yoko face doodle (#3,000 - #3,300)

:: Original section of stage from the Cavern Club, Liverpool (£1,800 - £2,000)

:: The front door from 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, the former home of the McCartney family, where they lived from around 1955 to 1964.