Gibson has used various methods of numbering from 1900, so it is not simply based on the serial number to identify the year of manufacture..
From 1902 to 1976, Gibson instruments have a serial number or a FON (Factory Order Number) or both.
If follows there is a third letter E, it stands for Electric.
Exceptions: Some high-end models and lap steels from 1939-1940 have been added the letter A, to the prefixes D, E or F.
Some lap steels and Les Paul's from 1961 have such a serial number.
Another exception to the above rules is in the autumn from 1958, where a some Les Paul Juniors and Specials had a four-digit serial number. From 1970 to 1975, the 6-digit serial numbers randomly generated.
Therefore, the production in 1959 may be a "1", "2" or "3" in the second digit.
Gibson stopped the stamped serial numbers at the end in 1960, although there are a few guitars made in 1961 with a "1" as a prefix.
FON consists a batch number of usually four digits, followed by a one letter (sometimes prefixed by a space) followed by one or two digits (ranking).
Factory Order numbers with a letter from 1952 to 1961.
The letter preceding the batch number in the FON, and indicates the year of production. Y1234 23 This were used from 1952 to 1961 on archtop models and stamped on the inside of the F-hole. An ink-stamped number from the back of the headstock. No serial numbers were used, Gibson just started therewith in 1953.
1935-1937: Letter between the batch number and the order number. 0123 A5 1938-1941: Two or three letters before batch number. If there is a second character follows it is the code for the type of the instrument.
(G = Gibson, K = Kalamazoo, W = Recording King (Montgomery Wards).