Lawson Memorial Hospital Autograph
One of the most historically important John Lennon autographs ever to be sold in the U.K.
Before he moved to The U.S.A., John Lennon was under constant public scrutiny. His every move was catalogued, photographed and commented on. Every movement of the Beatles between 1963 and 1970 has been analysed; broken down into an hour-by-hour diary.
And yet, one event in John Lennon's life is still a mystery. On July 1st, 1969, he was driving to visit his aunt's croft near Durness, in the north of Scotland. On a single-track road near Loch Eriboll, John saw another vehicle approaching. Although there were passing places along the route, John panicked and drove his white Austin Maxi off the road.
Of the car's four passengers - John, Yoko Ono, Yoko's daughter Kyoko and John's son Julian, only Julian escaped unhurt. On being taken to Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie, John needed 17 stitches on his chin, Yoko 14 in her face and Kyoko 4 in her lip. All three were detained for five days to recover and ensure they had suffered no internal bleeding or other problems. Julian was released into the care of John's aunt until his mother Cynthia flew up to collect him.
The story is well known but there is little evidence of the event. Only two photographs exist and they show John and Yoko leaving the hospital. Yoko is wearing dark glasses and John has a hat pulled down on his head. Until recently they were thought to be the only memorabilia linking Lennon to Lawson Memorial Hospital. The photographer said he sold one several years ago to a "big Beatles collector", the other was taken for the Daily Mail and turned up again recently in "The Mail On Sunday" when they covered the sale of this autograph.
Even at last year's John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, nothing new was uncovered, despite the presence of established Beatles collectors and buyers - and widespread publicity.
Now, for the first time ever, a piece of memorabilia has been uncovered that links John Lennon directly to Lawson Memorial Hospital - an autograph on hospital paper!
The 5 inch by 3 inch sheet of paper carries the wording: SUTHERLAND HOSPITALS BOARD OF MANAGEMENT. Lawson Memorial Hospital Golspie. Telephone: Golspie 357 and John Lennon's signature. It's far from pristine with several folds and rust marks that bear witness to the fact it's been stored in a tin for much of its 38 years.
Due to the importance of this autograph we have placed a high price of £ 10,000 (approx $20,000) on it.
Since being offered for sale, the autograph has had considerable publicity in Scotland and further afield. This has resulted in several people contacting us with more information. Each one is like another piece in a jigsaw. We now know that John and Yoko had stopped at a tearoom in the village of Tongue and signed a postcard of the village for one of the waitresses before driving back towards Durness. It was at some point during that journey that Lennon drove off the road.
The Express for Saturday, July 10, 1999 carried the story of John's crash and talked to the only nurse at that time still working in the hospital who had treated John. She recounted the tale of the minister of the Knox Free Church in Brora visiting the hospital to talk to John about his claim that The Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ. It seems the minister and the Beatle got on well together with John saying he could visit anytime. A month or so later, I started secondary school in Perth. One of my friends in second and third year was a boy called David Paterson, whose father, also called David, was the minister of the Knox Free Church in Perth. The family had moved south from Brora. I was often in their house, went to their church on several occasions and frequently talked to my friend's father. If only I'd known then that he'd been talking to John! Goes to show what a small world it really is.
When they were discharged from hospital on July 6th, a chartered helicopter was waiting on the hospital lawn to take them across the Moray Firth to Inverness airport. There, they boarded a private executive jet which took them back to London.
The fateful Austin Maxi was shipped back to the Lennon's home at Tittenhurst Park near Ascot, where it was placed on a plinth in the garden to remind the couple of their mortality.