This early Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless manufactured in 1906, Al Furstnow “fast action” shoulder holster rig from Miles City, Montana, and gold badge were owned by Arthur William Merrifield as U.S. Marshall for Montana in 1907-1911 after he was appointed to the position by his longtime friend and former ranching partner President Theodore Roosevelt. These items were purchased by respected American arms collector Greg Lampe directly from Merrifield’s family. He purchased them from Gary McDaniel, great grandson of Merrifield, who inherited them from his mother, Blanche Merrifield McDaniel. In included documentation, McDaniel states that “This gun was custom made and given to [Merrifield] by Theodore Roosevelt,” and in another document he writes that the “items you purchased from me belonged to my great-grandfather, Arthur William Merrifield” and that his mother “knew her grandfather as a child and learned the history of these items directly from him, as well as her father B. Frank Merrifield, son of A.W.” Two binders comprising an archive of copies of official documents and newspaper articles accompany this set detailing Merrifield’s relationship with Roosevelt, the political proceedings that led to Merrifield’s appointment, and his time as a lawman. Merrifield, generally known as William Merrifield or Bill Merrifield, had been a friend of Roosevelt’s since they first hunted together in the Dakota Territory back in the early 1880s and then became ranching partners. Back then, Roosevelt presented him the revolver and watch in Lot 1092. After Roosevelt returned to the East, re-entered political life, and quickly climbed to the top of the American government, Merrifield and Roosevelt remained in touch. Merrifield was a elector for Montana when Roosevelt was elected president, and after he took office, Merrifield requested Roosevelt appoint him as a U.S. Marshal, a presidentially appointed position. Roosevelt gladly worked to place his friend in the office. Merrifield was a man he respected and trusted, but they had to wait until the sitting marshal’s term ended. He was sworn in on January 2, 1907, as the 12th U.S. Marshal for the District of Montana the year after the pistol was manufactured. He was very active as marshal, and Roosevelt watched his career from affair, including corresponding with both Merrifield and other Montana officials to learn of his friend’s activities. Upon learning from Judge William Hunt of his good work, Roosevelt wrote him noting, “I cannot tell you how proud this made me feel. I want you to show this to your wife because she will be proud of it also.” During that period, Roosevelt was also in touch with his old hunting partner about trips his nephews took to hunt with Merrifield in the West. It was on one of those trips that the Winchester Model 1894 in Lot 1094 is believed to have been presented. Roosevelt himself visited with Merrifield and his wife while visiting Montana in 1911. In four years, his office served over 400 warrants, and he also transported seven Chinese prisoners back to China on-board the ship North Dakota and toured China and Japan with his wife. The ship grounded at Yokohama Bay causing them to be stuck for a few days. The robbery of the Great Northern Railroad Oriental Limited express car near Rexford, Montana, on September 12, 1907, by Charles McDonald and George Frankhauser (aka Ed Smith) was probably the most famous incident in Merrifield's career as a lawman. The two men took over the train at gunpoint, and then blew open the safe in the baggage car with dynamite and severely damaged the car. Finding nothing of value, they then pilfered the mail bags and found around $40,000 destined for the Old National Bank of Spokane and then slipped away. Soon their partying antics got them arrested at Bonners Ferry, in Idaho, and Merrifield delivered them to the Lewis and Clark County jail, but the two men sawed their way out of jail and escaped. They committed several robberies before splitting up. McDonald was reportedly never seen again. Frankhauser boldly took a job working for the Northern Pacific Railroad but was arrested in Minnesota and extradited back to Montana where he was convicted and sentence to life in prison at hard labor at Leavenworth. The pistol is a classic Type I Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless with a rounded blade front sight, dovetailed notch rear sight, “AUTOMATIC COLT/CALIBRE 32 RIMLESS SMOKELESS” on the right side of the slide, the two-line/two-block patent and address marking on the left side of the slide followed by an encircled Rampant Colt trademark behind the serrations, the serial number on the left side of the frame, the triangular “VP” proofmark and “R” on the left side of the trigger guard, and “COLT” and Rampant Colt embossed checkered hard rubber grips. The holster is marked “AL. FURSTNOW/MILES CITY, MONT.” and is mostly made of russet leather aside from the buff leather covering the spring clip and the elastic strap for the torso. The leather has some light border tooling. These were called “Sheriff’s Lightning Spring Shoulder Holsters,” and Furstnow also listed this version as the No. 3 Fast Action Holster. This style overall is often known as a skeleton holster. It is compatible with a variety of pistols and revolvers, including the 1903. The gilt brass badge has a spread wing eagle at the top over “ARTHUR W. MERRIFIELD/UNITED STATES/MARSHAL/FOR/MONTANA” in black enamel with additional light designs. Also included is a golden “TR” cattle brand style cuff link attributed as having belonged to Roosevelt. Provenance: Arthur William Merrifield from Theodore Roosevelt; Blanche Merrifield McDaniel; Gary McDaniel; The Greg Lampe Collection
Very fine. The pistol retains 85% of the original bright high polish blue finish and has mild edge and holster wear, including light scratches and a bright spot caused by the holster spring, and generally fairly minor overall wear for an early semi-automatic pistol carried by a lawman in the American West. Aside from some chips at the leading edge of the right grip, the grips are fine and have distinct checkering and markings, mild handling wear, and light fading from age. Mechanically excellent. The holster rig is also very fine and has mild wear from use. The bade is likewise very fine and retains nearly all of the gilt finish aside from a few small spots at the edges and nice contrasting enamel in the markings. The cuff link is fine and has mild age and storage related wear including some darker patina in the recesses. This is an incredible set. This is the first time U.S. Marshal Merrifield's Colt, Furstnow shoulder holster, and badge are being sold publicly, and the new owner will be only the second owner outside of the family to have the privilege of being the caretaker of this historic set.
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