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Selling: December 8, 2013

Lot 99: Smith & Wesson - Revolving-Rifle

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Factory Documented Spectacular and Extremely Rare Gustave Young Factory Engraved Smith & Wesson Model 320 "Buntline Special" Revolving Rifle with Shoulder Stock and Case
Estimated Price: $100,000 - $170,000
Serial #Smith & Wesson - Revolving-Rifle ManufacturerSmith & Wesson ModelRevolving-Rifle
TypeRifle Gauge320 Catalog Page26
Barrel18 Inch Solid Rib FinishBlue GripHard Rubber
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionIt is with great pleasure we at Rock Island Auction Company offer for sale this phenomenal S&W 320 Revolving Rifle. This gun has served as the centerpiece to four world class Smith & Wesson collections: The Mac McCroskie Collection, The Gary Garbrecht Collection (sold 2005), The Kevin Hogan Collection (sold 2007) writer of this description, and The Dr. Don Anderson Collection. Manufactured from 1879 to 1887, the Model 320 Revolving Rifle is one of the rarest Smith & Wesson firearms produced with a total production of 977. These firearms were serial numbered from 1 to 977 and out of the 977 manufactured, 514 had the 18 inch barrel. Only 840 of these were sold in the U.S. and the remaining 137 were exported. These revolving rifles were sometimes referred to as the Smith & Wesson "Buntline Special" in the combination of a long barreled revolver with attaching shoulder stock. This Model 320 was manufactured using the frame, cylinder and basic action of the New Model No. 3 revolver with some minor differences in the hammer and trigger, with the barrel being made of two pieces. A slot is cut into the butt and a hole drilled in the back strap to accommodate the shoulder stock. The rifle features an 18 inch barrel with a globe front sight with cross hair aperture and two leaf folding rear sight on a rib marked with the two line address/patent date marking ahead of the rear sight and a scroll and punch dot engraving behind the rear sight which extends to the breech. As aforementioned this gun was apart of the iconic collection of Gary Garbrecht sold on the east coast in the fall of 2005. At the time this rifle was originally sold it was accompanied by a factory letter which has subsequently been misplaced and no longer accompanies this rifle. The writer has reached out to Mr. Roy Jinks, the respected Smith & Wesson historian and asked that a duplicated letter be researched and written so that the history of this rare and important rifle is not lost to the ages. Quoting the previously letter which "confirms configuration and attributes the engraving to the master Mr. Gustave Young." Further, it states "this rifle was engraved at the time the factory was preparing a group of firearms to be sent to the World Exhibition being held in Melbourne, Australia." Lastly and probably most pertinent Mr. Jinks stated: "Based on my research only one other engraved revolving rifle is known and it has been refinished." Let it be known that upon further examination it is my humble opinion that this revolving rifle has been period factory refinished. Based on the information given on this revolving rifle from the original factory letter one can conclude that this rifle was made for exhibition to be displayed by Smith & Wesson at the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880. Given the serial number this would fit that time frame, it would have been a new product and what better place to show it off than at the World's Fair. Not to mention the quality of Mr. Young's work is certainly exhibition worthy. Similar to the practices of other well known firearms manufactures known for large exhibition displays, in particular Winchester, most rifles and carbines not sold were returned to the factory to be restored, and would often times be a part of the next grand display which is what I surmise is the case with this particular revolving rifle. Either it was shot and not cleaned or even if 5% of the Fair's visitors stopped to drool or picked up this rifle it would have been handled by 50,000 individuals! After the fair the gun was returned to the factory and restored to like new condition as was the practice for other exhibition guns of the period. While it is unknown exactly when S&W began applying markings such as the * (See Jink and Neal "Smith & Wesson 1857-1945 which states the * did not appear in a factory catalog until 1900), this gun would no doubt predate those practices. The rear sides of the barrel and barrel lug also feature the engraved scrollwork. The beautifully executed scroll and punch dot engraved motif covers the sides of the frame to extend to the top and sides of the top strap, the area around and behind the hammer and on the back strap. The cylinder chambers are also engraved with the same scroll pattern. The matching serial number appears on the butt, cylinder, barrel and barrel latch. Blue finish with casehardened hammer and trigger guard. The barrel is fitted with a checkered hard rubber red mottled forearm with the S&W monogram on the underside. The grips are matching with S&W monograms in a circle at the tops. The stock is smooth Circassian walnut with blue finished attaching iron and a checkered black hard rubber buttplate with S&W monogram. The stock attaching iron has a matching scroll and punch dot engraving that is featured on the firearm. The original leather case has a leather handle and nickel corner protectors. The lining is felt and there are three compartments (one for the rifle, one for the stock and one for a box of cartridges. The inside of the lid as a paper S&W caution label. Also with the gun are the following: stock peep sight, two extra sights (blade front and globe front sight), a box of UMC S&W .32 caliber revolving rifle cartridges and wooden cleaning rod. Provenance: The Mac McCroskie Collection, The Gary Garbrecht Collection, The Kevin Hogan Collection, The Dr. Don Anderson Collection.

ConditionExcellent as period factory restored following the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880. The revolving rifle retains 95% high polished factory blue finish with a smooth brown patina on the high points. The hammer and trigger guard retain nearly all their strong vivid original case colors. The forearm and grips are also excellent with a few light handling marks and overall crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent. The stock is excellent with some minor handling marks and the attaching hardware retaining 95% factory blue finish. The case is fine with the exterior showing some scattered minor wear/handling marks and the lining showing wear. Truly a spectacular example of a very rare firearm engraved by renowned Master Engraver Gustave Young that had been and would be a centerpiece to any advance Smith & Wesson collection!
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