The late rocker is believed to have strummed on the 1962 J-160E Gibson acoustic for tracks like Love Me Do, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Please, Please, Me, but Lennon misplaced the instrument in his native U.K. in 1963.

The guitar subsequently ended up in San Diego, California, where it was purchased by an amateur musician called John MCCaw. He was unaware of its rock 'n' roll history until one of his friends recognised it from a book by Beatles expert Andy Babiuk, who was later able to authenticate it by the instrument's serial number.

The guitar is now set to go under the hammer in November (15) as part of a Julien's Auctions sale in Los Angeles and experts predict it will be snatched up for between $600,000 (£375,000) and $800,000 (£500,000).

It will also go on display at two summer (15) exhibitions in Austin, Texas and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.