A guitar that John Lennon played on the recording of The Beatles song Paperback Writer is expected to fetch up to $1m at auction.
Lennon gave his Gretsch 6120 guitar to his cousin, David Birch, in November 1967 – a year after the hit single was produced in April 1966 at London’s Abbey Road studios as part of the sessions for the band’s Revolver album.
Mr Birch was given the guitar when he visited his older cousin at his Kenwood home in Weybridge, Surrey, and he asked him if he had one that he no longer wanted as he was trying to form his own band with friends.
His mother, Harriet, was a younger sister of Lennon’s mother, Julia, and the music legend lived near to their family home in Woolton when he went to stay with his Aunt Mimi.
He said: “I was just cheeky enough to ask John for one of his spare guitars.
“I had my eye on a blue Fender Stratocaster that was lying in the studio but John suggested the Gretsch and gave it to me as we were talking.”
The Gretsch was part of Lennon’s collection of guitars kept in his music room at the top of the house.
After leaving the Grestsch factory in Brooklyn, New York, the guitar has had only two documented owners, Lennon and Mr Birch.
The instrument is one of the most significant of Lennon’s guitars to come on to the market in the last 30 years, said auctioneers TracksAuction.com.
Paperback Writer, written by Sir Paul McCartney and Lennon, was the A-side of their 11th single and went to number one in the UK and US charts.
The Beatles Monthly Book magazine photographer, Leslie Bryce, took a number of black and white and colour photos of Lennon using the Gretsch during the Paperback Writer session on April 14, said TracksAuction.com.
One of the photos that he took depicts the reverse of the body of Lennon’s Gretsch and shows two idiosyncratic markings in the wood grain on the back of the main body of the instrument which are wholly peculiar to the Gretsch 6120 serial no 53940.
In addition, there are close-up photos from the session clearly showing the wood grain on the front of the headstock of the guitar.
Online bidding for the guitar, with an estimated sale price of between £400,000 and £600,000, begins on November 14 and concludes with a live auction at Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly, London, on November 23.
The auction contains more than 100 lots of Beatles memorabilia including a copy of the Sgt. Pepper album signed by all four members of the band, various items from the collection of Lennon’s life-long friend Pete Shotton and the banjo played by Rod Davis in Lennon’s original group, The Quarrymen.