Mary Ford’s 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom has just been tracked down… on Facebook Marketplace

Mary Ford's 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul Custom
(Image credit: Mark Agnesi/Instagram)

In one of the most unlikely cases of electric guitar recovery we’ve ever come across, Mary Ford’s historic 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom has just been found… on Facebook Marketplace.

Gibson’s Director of Brand Experience Mark Agnesi shared the revelation on Instagram, and confirmed the guitar is currently on its way home to Gibson HQ.

The cream-finished guitar is absolutely steeped in history, having been owned by Ford who, along with her husband and guitar pioneer Les Paul, co-performed numerous hits in the ’50s, including How High the Moon. This guitar in particular also featured on the cover of the pair’s 1962 album, Warm and Wonderful.

Even without this close personal association to Ford, a ‘61 Les Paul SG is historic in its own right, serving as the flagship example of Gibson’s double-cut that was first dubbed a Les Paul model before the man himself distanced himself from the design.

This three humbucker-equipped example in particular also had numerous high-profile champions, and is synonymous with the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who is one of the most influential blues-rock guitarists in history.

So, to find Ford’s SG listed on what is effectively a virtual flea market – where you’re more likely to find free furniture, cheap old couches and weird unwanted knick-knacks – is borderline incomprehensible.

How it ended up on Facebook Marketplace is anybody’s guess at the moment, but it was confirmed that the guitar would be making its way to the Vault at the Gibson Garage.

Since serving as Ford’s trusted six-string sidepiece, the SG has since had a colorful life, to say the least. Back in 2012, Ford’s nephew took the SG – along with a ream of accompanying documents bearing Les Paul's signature – on the Pawn Stars TV show, where it was purchased by Rick and Corey Harrison for a relatively humble $90,000.

Soon after, the guitar was bought at auction on eBay for $110,000, with the Pawn Stars crew turning over a cool $20,000 profit. Gibson hasn't revealed how much it paid to reunite with Ford’s SG, which must have stuck out like a sore thumb alongside all those budget vacuums and old tupperware containers.

Despite the unexpected journey, the SG looks to be in good condition save a few bumps and scrapes, with a handwritten setlist scotch-taped to the back still partially intact. The pickup covers are also a no-show, having been removed sometime before the instrument featured on Pawn Stars.

It’s yet another reminder that six-string history can be unearthed in the most unlikely places. Last year, an undocumented 1960 Les Paul Standard was discovered in the UK, while more recently a ‘59 example from South Africa, affectionately named Sunny, had been found.

So, let that be a lesson: keep your eyes peeled anywhere a guitar might be lurking – you never know what you might find.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.