Lennon's Paperback 'writer' guitar to auction for almost $1m

The guitar that John Lennon used to record the Beatles' Paperback Writer has been consigned to the latest sale from Tracks Auction, which takes place on November 23 in London.

The guitar, an orange Gretsch 6120, is an exciting discovery for collectors, with Lennon's guitars rarely coming to auction with such solid provenance - it was given by Lennon to a cousin, and has remained with him since.

With the guitar's wood grain matched to photos of Lennon in his studio, it is expected to command bids of between £400,000-600,000 ($638,260-957,390). Earlier this year, a Vox guitar organ played by Lennon sold for $305,000.

The Gretsch has been consigned by Lennon's cousin David Birch, who was visiting the Beatle at his famous Kenwood home in Weybridge, Surrey, when he plucked up the courage to ask for one of the guitars.

"We went up to the music room, and inside that room were two guitars, one was a Fender and the other was the orange Gretsch 6120. While we were there - probably due to an adrenaline rush - I said 'could I have one of your guitars please John?'" Birch remembers.

"I was eyeing up the Fender, but he didn't give me the Fender, he gave me the Gretsch."

John Lennon guitar Gretsch Paperback writer
With studio use and strong provenance, this is one of the finest Lennon guitars ever brought to the market

The photographs of Lennon playing the guitar originate from Beatles Monthly Book photographer Leslie Bryce, who took a number of shots during the Paperback Writer session on April 14, 1966 at EMI Studio 3, which were later published in issue 35.

"John, George and George Martin huddled round Paul, who was seated at the piano trying to work out a bass bit, before asking George Martin to play it. John leaned on the piano while he listened to Paul's ideas for a while. Then he picked up his orange Gretsch guitar and proceeded to pick away at it. At the same time Paul transferred to a Vox organ," the report records.

Paperback Writer does not appear on any Beatles album, but was released as their 11th single, going to number one in the UK and US, as well as several other countries.

This is undoubtedly one of the most significant John Lennon guitars ever seen on the market, with its studio use and solid provenance ensuring strong bids come sale day.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has an exceptional collection of Beatles memorabilia for sale - take a closer look today.

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