Introduced in 1955 as a step up from the single-pickup Junior, the single-cutaway Les Paul Special was still considered a 'student' model, and priced accordingly.
The double-cut incarnation arrived midway through '58, with the TV finish now distinctly yellow in hue.
Gibson's November 1959 price list saw the Special cost $195, versus the $265 Standard, while the Custom topped the range at $395 ($470 with Bigsby). None of those prices included a hard case, which was an additional $42.50.
1959 saw the Special's pickup selector switch moved from its original position between the treble volume and tone pots and relocated closer to the bridge (as seen here).
Just weeks after this example was shipped, neck pickups on new models were moved approximately half an inch closer to the bridge unit in order to strengthen the neck joint.
The guitar pictured has a chunky D-shaped neck and bags of sustain and resonance. Don't believe the hype about wraparound bridges, either; the intonation is bang on!