This looks more like a 76S, with the S at the end, which would make sense if it is labeled a Phillipson "Special". Why would Phillipson sometimes label the S at the end of the model instead of the beginning? Would it mean something different in these different locations? I'm just curious and wanting to learn more.
The early 50s were the beginning of commercial fiberglass. The Tonkin cane supply was embargoed so Phillipson was changing from bamboo to glass. I'm sure they were figuring out how to produce and promote glass in a cost effective manner. The 1952 Phillipson glass rod listing only had two fly rods (P76 and P86), three spinning rods, and one salmon rod. Soon fiberglass was the majority of Phillipson's production. Eventually OEM rods became a large part of Phillipson's sales.
Not to be abrasive, but your Special is an inexpensive rod build. The reelseat was not dyed, the guide wraps were not tipped, the grip was round when the better models had oval shaped cork, and the rod case was cardboard. If it was so 'cheap', why was it called 'Special'? For the same reason most banks are called 'First'. Marketing. Through the 60s, the lowest grade Phillipson rods were labeled 'Master' or 'Classic'. Despite being built in Denver, your rod was sold in Southern California - the home of Conolon, SilaFlex, and Harnell. Your rod has a no-rock seat, quality Phillipson nickel silver ferrules, and a state-of-the-art fiberglass blank. Even Phillipson's bargain rods were well made.
Finally, your rod is special in a different sense. Often bargain tackle is not well maintained. The rods are left joined up in the garage or given to the kids. Your lucky rod was owned by someone who cared for it. Not many Specials are around anymore, especially in such good condition.