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http://www.guitarhq.com/gibson.html#serial

1949.

Gibson Factory Order Numbers, 1942 to 1951.

    • Serial numbers are seldom found on instruments made during WW2, but most (not all) have Factory Order Numbers (FON). These contain a four digit batch number stamped in ink, followed by a two digit sequence number written in red pencil (during WW2 only). After the war, the red pencil wasn't used (and on instruments made during the war, sometimes it's really hard to see the red penciled sequence number). Usually there is no more than 46 instruments (sequence numbers) per batch. Also no batch number with a "1" as the first digit was used during WW2.
      Year    Factory Order Number 
      ----    --------------------
      1941    G (letter code sometimes seen after FON, i.e. 2586G).
      1942    907, 910, 923, 2004, 2005, 7000ish (i.e. 7119) - all 'Banner' logo.
      1942    H (letter code sometimes seen after FON, i.e. 7116H). Range 5xxxH to 8xxxH
      1943    Range generally 9xx to 22xx, depending on the model.
      1944    Range generally 22xx to 29XX, depending on the model, some with no FON.
      1945    1xx to 10xx, but many with no FON.
      1946    n/a ('Banner' logo no longer used, now script logo with no banner).
      1947    700s to 1000s
      1948    1100s to 3700s ('Script' logo no longer used, block logo used.)
      1949    2000s
      1950    3000s to 5000s
      1951    6000s to 9000s
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 Jim, every time I look at that FON list, I get a headache, specifically, the issue of 1948. Even with Gibson, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go from 1100 to 3700 in one year, which would indicate a huge jump in production compared to 1947, and then drop back down to the 2000's for 1949. That is further complicated by the apparent overlap in the 3000 range between 1948 and 1950. I wonder if 1948 isn't really supposed to be 1100 to 1700, which would suggest a slow increase in production, which would be expected as post-war demand ramped up?

It looks like production may have really taken off in 1950 and 1951.

Do you have another source for serial numbers/FONs? This is when the lack of published/digitized shipping ledgers is really frustrating. We spend a lot of time trying to reconcile dates based on physical characteristics when FONs are ambiguous, and Gibson would be doing the world a big favor if they published these.

Of course, that would be one less thing we could obsess about...

  • Thanks 1
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I agree with you, Nick.  I noticed (again) right after I posted that the '48 FON range apparently overlaps the '49 range.  I thought about editing my post to indicate that, and then I said to myself... "does it really matter?" (1948 vs 1949).  Certainly not in terms of collectibility or value.

I checked the orange Duchossoir book, and he indicates a few more details about late-40's FONs:

1. Lower grade models (including the ES-125) usually do not show any FONs until 1949.

2. Guitars from 1947 to the early part of 1949 which do have FONs included a hyphen between the 4-digit number and the 1- or 2-digit suffix.

3. Some time after early 1949, a more consistent numbering system began, without the hyphens.

So, these details would seem to point to 1949.  And thanks for prompting me to seek more details.  It's always good to keep refreshing the memory on these things, even though I'm sure I'll have to consult the book again the next time the same question arises.  😀

Edited by JimR56
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2 hours ago, JimR56 said:

I agree with you, Nick.  I noticed (again) right after I posted that the '48 FON range apparently overlaps the '49 range.  I thought about editing my post to indicate that, and then I said to myself... "does it really matter?" (1948 vs 1949).  Certainly not in terms of collectibility or value.

I checked the orange Duchossoir book, and he indicates a few more details about late-40's FONs:

1. Lower grade models (including the ES-125) usually do not show any FONs until 1949.

2. Guitars from 1947 to the early part of 1949 which do have FONs included a hyphen between the 4-digit number and the 1- or 2-digit suffix.

3. Some time after early 1949, a more consistent numbering system began, without the hyphens.

So, these details would seem to point to 1949.  And thanks for prompting me to seek more details.  It's always good to keep refreshing the memory on these things, even though I'm sure I'll have to consult the book again the next time the same question arises.  😀

Thanks for that additional info. I'll check the FON format on my two ambiguous 1948-1950 J-45s when I get back to the US early next week. They are  35xx  and 36xx FONs. I suspect both are 1950 because of other details, but it would be good to put that one to bed after 50 years of ownership. As you say, it means nothing in terms of collectability, and little in terms of construction details or quality as musical instruments.

In the case of the 35xx model, I bought it from the original owner last year, so I know exactly when he bought it. Most details of those two guitars were identical, except for very different sunbursts.

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Awesome guys, Thanks!!  1949 sounds right, as my uncle received it as a gift new when he was around 12.  I was confused about the 22xx in the 43-44 years.  Thanks for the info.  Where abouts should I go to get it appraised for insurance purposes?  I also need to find a reputable Gibson luthier and have her looked it.  Thanks again!

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35 minutes ago, Olaf Redbeard said:

Awesome guys, Thanks!!  1949 sounds right, as my uncle received it as a gift new when he was around 12.  I was confused about the 22xx in the 43-44 years.  Thanks for the info.  Where abouts should I go to get it appraised for insurance purposes?  I also need to find a reputable Gibson luthier and have her looked it.  Thanks again!

You might get an appraisal from Gruhn Guitars. Email or call to see what their current policies are.

What part of the country are you in? Someone here may be able to point you in the right direction for someone to go over it. You want a vintage specialist to do that for you.

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