Yesterday, when we were fab at algebra

21st March 1997 at 00:00
Question: what is 40 years old, contains neatly-inked algebraic equations (with lots of ticks) and is expected to raise at least Pounds 25,000 at auction next week? Answer: Paul McCartney's fourth-form maths exercise book.

Schoolwork by a former Beatle apparently has a certain rarity value, hence the astonishingly high guide price for the sale being organised by Bonhams. It is the first ever seen by Ted Owen, the auctioneers' entertainments specialist, although he does have a copy of John Lennon's application for art school ("signed with his first-ever autograph"), also in the March 22 sale.

Such is the Oriental interest in things Beatlish that the whole lot is being shipped to Japan for auction, although there will be a live link back to London for local bidders.

Exactly how the book comes to be up for sale is a matter on which Mr Owen is discreet.

The vendor is not McCartney, who attended the Liverpool Institute (now a performing arts school), but an anonymous man who acquired the 43-page notebook in 1957 or 1958. Apparently, there was a tussle for ownership between McCartney and the vendor some time ago but the sale is now clear to go ahead.

Mr Owen said of McCartney: "He was pretty clever by the looks of things; there are lots of ticks from the teacher."

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