By Edward Baran
(Reuters) - A Gretsch guitar that John Lennon played for the recording of the Beatles' hit song "Paperback Writer" and then gave to his cousin is expected to fetch up to $1 million (630,000 GBP) at auction in Britain this week.
Auction house TracksAuction.com said the Gretsch 6120 instrument was one of the most significant Lennon guitars to come on the market in the last 30 years.
"It's come directly from John Lennon's cousin, who was given it by John Lennon in 1967 and he's had it ever since, so for collectors of Beatles memorabilia to have a provenance like that is exceptional," the auction house said.
Lennon gave the guitar to his cousin David Birch a year after the hit single was produced at London's Abbey Road studio.
Birch, who grew up with Lennon in Liverpool, said he had received the instrument after asking his older cousin if he had a guitar he no longer wanted.
"I was just cheeky enough to ask him for a guitar and he gave me the Gretsch and of course I was very pleased, simple as that, really. Sounds a bit cheeky but it didn't seem cheeky at the time," Birch, 66, told Reuters.
Asked why he had decided to sell the guitar after so long, Birch said: "Well, I'm not getting any younger, I've had it 47 years. And it was just in the bedroom, you know, and I used to pick it up every now and then and play around with it."
After leaving the Gretsch factory in New York, the guitar has had only two documented owners - Lennon and Birch.
This week's auction of rock and pop memorabilia also includes a copy of the LP "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" signed by all four Beatles in red ballpoint pen. It is expected to sell for up to 150,000 pounds ($240,000).
Also for sale are three school detention sheets relating to Lennon retrieved from a clear-out of a room at Liverpool's Quarry Bank High School in the 1970s.
Lennon attended the school between 1952 and 1957 and one of the sheets shows he received a detention for "singing at the top of (his) voice in the corridor". They are each expected to sell for up to 6,000 GBP each.
The auction opens for online bidding on Friday.
(Editing by Michael Roddy and Gareth Jones)