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/ Source: Associated Press

The 1954 electric guitar that served as the prototype for Gibson's iconic Les Paul models is going on the auction block.

The Paul-designed guitar known as "Black Beauty" features gold-plated hardware. Paul played it for more two decades and made frequent modifications as he refined its sound. Guernsey's is offering it Feb. 19 in New York City. The auctioneer calls it the most significant electric guitar ever made. Its market value will be determined at auction.

The famous jazz, country and blues guitarist played it in concerts, recordings and on the "Les Paul and Mary Ford" television show. Paul, whose hits songs included "How High the Moon," died in 2009. He gave the instrument to his friend, guitar technician and builder Tom Doyle of Wantage, New Jersey.

-- The Associated Press