Gibson's 1959-1960 guitars, particularly examples of the original Les Paul burst, are some of the most rare, highly-sought-after and valuable vintage guitars on the planet.
According to Gibson, around 30 years ago - when the company moved its headquarters from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee - the ledgers containing the shipping records of all Gibson guitars created during that fateful year disappeared.
Now, Gibson is offering a hefty reward, $59,000 to be exact, to anyone who can locate and return the missing ledgers.
“As a custodian of Gibson, I am very excited about this search. I hope we can recover these ledgers as they contain important information about the pinnacle of our golden era,” Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian said in a statement.
“It will be interesting to see where in the world they surface, given that the last time they were seen was in Michigan. While they are dusty old books to anyone else, these ledgers are part of our history, DNA and our iconic past.
“These ledgers contain the shipping information, including the serial numbers and shipping party, for the most valuable guitars in history; the Gibson 1959 and 1960 bursts.”
Upon verification of the ledger's authenticity, Gibson says, whoever returns the ledger will receive the cash reward, no questions asked.
The missing ledgers have made existing ’59 Les Paul bursts incredibly difficult to authenticate. Gibson recently told The Wall Street Journal that as many as 200 fake ’59 Les Paul bursts are circulating amongst collectors (643 actual examples of the instrument were produced.)
Each submission will follow a three-step verification process:
1. Validation requests must be sent to: 59Ledger@gibson.com or Ledger@gibson.com. Emails must include:
a. Written description
b. Photograph(s) and/or videos of the items
c. Contact email and phone number
2. The validation email request will be reviewed within 15 business days by the Gibson Historical Committee (GHC), composed of Cesar Gueikian, Mat Koehler (Head of Product Development), Mark Agnesi (Director of Brand Experience) and Jason Davidson (Director of Consumer Services).
3. Based on the GHC’s analysis, the submitting party will be contacted with next steps and instructions.
For more info on the search, stop by gibson.com.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.