That translates as ‘For Emperor John on his Birthday 9 Oct 1960, By Stu’, giving a clue to its history which was fully revealed by a paper inscription to its back.
The flask had been a gift from Stuart Sutcliffe to John Lennon on his 20th birthday while The Beatles were playing in Hamburg.
It was during the Beatles’ Hamburg era (August 1960 to December 1962), that the band played over 250 nights with Sutcliffe playing bass for the band before he left to pursue an art career. He died in 1962.
Lennon later re-gifted the flask to Geoff Mohammed, one of his friends from art college, who sold the flask during the mid-1960s.
It came to auction at entertainment memorabilia specialist Prop Store (25% buyer’s premium) in Rickmansworth on November 3-6.
The estimate was £4000-6000 but it found a buyer via thesaleroom.com at £18,000.