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Need help identifying WW2 Gibson from my grandpa

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Hello, I inherited this guitar from my grandpa 10 years ago. According to my dad, my grandpa bought the guitar around World War 2 and had it his entire life. I did a little research when I first got it an d thought it was a Gibson L-50 Archtop acoustic from 1943, but I could be wrong. It doesn't have anything written on it except for some raised letters/numbers on the back of the headstock "EG-5548" that I didn't see until now. Any help in identifying what year will help our family pinpoint this guitar in the story of his life. Thank you in advance.





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Congratulations.  What a great thing to inherit!  Thanks for sharing the nice photos.

These things are fairly rare, and require some research.  Here's what I can offer, based on a few reliable sources.  Your guitar is a "Black Special" (similar black-finished instruments produced during WWII are referred to as the "Wartime Special").  These black instruments were not cataloged by Gibson, and were sold through dealers as a special order (aka "dealer specials").

If your guitar has a 16" lower bout like an L-50, then (based on the dating info below) it's a "Black Special #4".  (black specials can have different number designations from 2 through 7,  depending on their size and specs, and years of production .  See a list here:  https://books.google.com/books?id=sgeZ_cISRpAC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=gibson+%22wartime+special%22&source=bl&ots=nBtR05Tz61&sig=ACfU3U3wgxKjdVlfyqHWTuhbYkyZzDa7EQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiayuHqt9nlAhVUnp4KHXamAYkQ6AEwEHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=gibson%20%22wartime%20special%22&f=false)

EG-5548 is a factory order number, or "FON".  It dates to 1939.  (see: http://www.guitarhq.com/gibson.html#serial)

  • Gibson Factory Order Numbers with a Letter, 1935 to 1941.
    • Many instruments from 1935 to 1941 have a letter designating the year within the Factory Order Number (FON).
      • The FON consists of a batch number, usually 4 digits. Then there is a letter (and sometimes a space), followed by a 1 or 2 digit sequence (ranking) number.
      • 1935-1937: Letter is between the batch number and the sequence number. Code is ink stamped on the inside back.
      • 1938-1941: two or three letters before sequence number. Code is either ink stamped onto the label or impressed into the back of the peghead (for lap steels, impressed into the back of the body). First letter, indicates the year. Second letter, if there is one, indicates the brand of the instrument: G=Gibson, K=Kalamazoo, W=Recording King (Montgomery Wards). Third letter, if there is one, is "E" for Electric.
      • Exceptions: Some high-end models and lapsteels from 1939 to 1940 have the letter A added to the prefixes D, E, or F. This includes the letters DA, EA, FA, followed by 4 digits. Examples include L-5's and Super 400's which have an EA prefix (suggestiong 1939), in addition to a separate paper label indicating 1940 or 1941. In this case the later serial number is the one to believe, as the instrument was probably started and completed in different years.
      Year    1st Letter
      ----    ----------
      1935    A
      1936    B
      1937    C
      1938    D, DA
      1939    Ex (where 'x' is any other letter)
      1940    F, FA
      1941    E (with NO other following letter)
      1941    G
      1942    H
Edited by JimR56
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