The first contract signed by The Beatles and their representative Brian Epstein is the star of an online auction at Sotheby's in London.

Epstein boosted the group’s international success after "discovering" them at the Liverpool Cavern Club in the United Kingdom.

The document, which was presented on Friday, is dated 24 January 1962 and includes the signatures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and the original drummer of the group, Pete Best.

Each member of the group signed the document over a postage stamp and witnessed by Epstein's personal assistant Alistair Taylor.

Epstein’s signature is missing, as he explained at the time that although he was committed to “the boys” he did not want the quartet to be tied to him if things did not work out.

“I had no idea what a contract even looked like and I didn’t think it would be sensible to take the signatures of four teenagers on any old piece of paper,” he said, according to a statement issued by Sotheby's.

“It was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100 percent faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately,” Epstein added.

“In other words, I wanted to free the Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”

The auction began on 1 July and ends on 9 July. It is part of a collection of Epstein's editor, Ernest Hecht, and has an estimated value of between $250,000 and $375,000, according to Sotheby's.

The contract was the start of the transformation of The Beatles from a band that was popular in their hometown in Liverpool, in the northwest of England, to one of the most successful ever in the world.

It is the first of two agreements that the English group signed because it was necessary to do another when Best, nicknamed "the fifth Beatle", was replaced by Ringo Starr.

The second document, dated 1 October 1962, was auctioned in 2015 at Sotheby's for £365,000 ($457,000). EFE-EPA