By Miles Raymer
January 07, 2015 at 06:34 PM EST
Chris Vincent/Guernsey’s

After decades of being wielded by Jimmy Page, Slash, Neil Young, and nearly every major guitarist of the electric era, the Gibson Les Paul guitar has become such a rock totem that it can be difficult to believe all those thousands upon thousands of instruments were based on one original prototype. There was one, though: an all-black model gold hardware that the guitarist Les Paul played (and tinkered with) regularly from the time Gibson delivered it in 1953 until 1976, when he handed it off to his friend and personal luthier Tom Doyle.

On Feb. 19, that first Les Paul guitar will go to auction for the first time ever at New York auction house Guernsey’s, alongside some other gear formerly owned by Paul and another important prototype—Chet Atkins’s original Gretsch 6120, also known as “Dark Eyes.” Considering the Les Paul’s iconic stature and figures people have recently laid out for classic rock artifacts, it’s likely to bring in far more money than most guitarists will see in a lifetime.