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Auction Date: September 15, 2013

Lot 1: Smith & Wesson - 44 Double Action

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Extraordinary Documented Gustave Young's 1893 Chicago World's Fair Exposition Engraved and Gold Inlaid Smith & Wesson 44 Double Action Frontier Model Revolver with Nevada Gold Mining Lawmen History
Estimated Price: $125,000 - $175,000
Item Views 740 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Smith & Wesson - 44 Double Action ManufacturerSmith & Wesson Model44 Double Action
TypeRevolver Gauge44 Russian Catalog Page6
Barrel5 Inch Solid Rib FinishBlue GripWalnut/reptile Skin
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThe accompanying factory letter noted Smith & Wesson historian Roy Jinks states that this exquisite and historic Smith & Wesson 44 Double Action Frontier Model revolver was factory engraved and gold inlaid by the renowned engraver Gustave Young and was on display at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893 (The Chicago World's Fair). Although held in 1893, the Chicago World's Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's landing in America (1492) and became a symbol of American exceptionalism that was sweeping the nation. Larger and grander than other world's fairs of the past, the six month running fair was attended by more than 27 million people and showed the world that Chicago had risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. At the fair Smith & Wesson exhibited spectacular decorated handguns, including those manufactured in conjunction with Tiffany & Co. The exhibition engraving on the revolver is indicative of the rich quality and style of scrollwork of Gustave Young. The pattern is featured on the sides of the barrel, sides of the barrel lug, cylinder flats, and barrel rib flanking the S&W address with full coverage on the sides of the frame, top strap and rear of the frame to extend down the back strap. Gold inlaid scrollwork is incorporated in the engraving found on the barrel, on each cylinder flat, on the sides of the frame and on the area behind the hammer. A simple border engraving is featured around most of the scrollwork as well as on the hammer. In R.L. Wilson's book "STEEL CANVAS: THE ART OF AMERICAN ARMS", two S&W single action revolvers with a similar Gustave Young engraving with gold inlays are pictured on page 195 and these two revolvers were also part of the factory exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair. This exact gun is photographed and described on pages 200 and 201 of "THE PEACEMAKERS ARMS AND ADVENTURE IN THE AMERICAN WEST", by R.L. Wilson. The barrel rib is marked "SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A. PAT'D JAN. 17 & 24, 65/JULY 11 65 AUG 24 59 JULY 25 71 DEC 2 79 MAY 11 & 25 1860." It is equipped with a pinned blade front sight and a notch rear sight mounted on the barrel latch. Matching numbers are located on the butt, cylinder, barrel latch and barrel. Blue finish with casehardened trigger and hammer and fitted with probably Tiffany supplied walnut grips wrapped in reptile skin with a gilded screw. With the revolver is an elk hide leather holster. Decades after the 1893 World's Fair an article by Kip Chase entitled "Redondoan Recalls Days of Old with Wyatt Earp, Gold Mining" was published in a local newspaper. The article details the life of Claude Inman during his days as the police chief of Goldfield, Nevada, and with the article is a photograph of Inman holding this Smith & Wesson and holster. The caption read, "He is holding the six-shooter he used while police chief in Goldfield, Nev. Inman was hired by mine owners to 'clean up the town' in the days when Goldfield was a gold-hungry frontier town." Arriving in Goldfield as a carpenter, Inman built the first frame buildings of the town and would later be enlisted by the local mine owners as the police chief of the town. The mine owners paid Inman $10,000 per month and their investment paid off: Inman was credited for "cleaning up the town" that was plagued with outlaws. He raided dope dens, tracked down higraders (ore thieves), had run ins with the brothers John and James McNamara--the brothers would later blow up the Los Angeles Times Building in 1910--and meet the famous lawman Wyatt Earp. Photocopies of period Goldfield Daily Tribune newspapers which record Inman's career are included (at one point he served as both chief of police and chief of fire). Several photographs of Goldfield are with the revolver with one photo showing a Claude Inman for constable banner hanging above the main street of the town. An unpublished manuscript telling the Inman story is included. Also included is a photocopied hand written statement from Inman's son. It states that the C. Inman once owned the revolver, which the son inherited after his father's death in 1962, and the revolver was given to C. Inman by Tex Rickard, owner of the Great Northern Saloon in Goldfield and later an American boxing promoter, founder of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, and builder of the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden in New York City.

ConditionExtremely fine. The revolver retains 50% bright original high polish blue finish with a smooth brown-gray patina on the balance. The hammer and trigger retain an equal amount of vivid original case colors. The grips are very fine with some wear in the reptile skin. Hammer does not hold at the full cock position in single action, but does function properly in double action. The engraving is crisp. The holster is good. An extraordinary documented Gustave Young engraved and gold inlaid exhibition revolver with unique history that would make a fine addition to any advanced firearm collection! A must have for the advance Smith & Wesson or Old West/Americana collector!
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