Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3127: Tiffany Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless Revolver

Auction Date: June 7, 2020

Extremely Rare Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless 3rd Model Double Action Revolver with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,000 - $15,000

Extremely Rare Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless 3rd Model Double Action Revolver with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 38 Safety Hammerless
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 S&W
Barrel: 3 1/4 inch solid rib
Finish: silver
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 2094
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 66
Class: Antique

Self-described as an “American multinational luxury jewelry and specialty retailer,” Tiffany & Co. created some the most spectacular and expensive highly embellished deluxe handguns and rifles from the late 1880s to the early 1900s for American’s leading firearms manufacturers including Colt, Winchester and most notably Smith & Wesson. Often intended to be showpieces for the World's Columbian Expedition of 1893, the Exposition Universelle in Paris of 1900 and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY in 1901, these highly stylized arms fully embodied the classic Art Nouveau style, as clearly demonstrated on this S&W revolver. The number of surviving Tiffany S&Ws remains unknown, and known examples have been well-documented over the years in such publications like R.L. Wilson's "Steel Canvas" and Neal and Jinks' "Smith & Wesson 1857-1945." The largest public display of Tiffany embellished 19th century arms can be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Gallery 372. The lion’s share of the display was donated and/or sold by Dr. Gerald Klaz. Third Model .38 Safety Hammerless revolvers were manufactured from 1890 to 1898. The revolver features a full coverage leaf, vine and flower acid etched pattern. Matching highly decorative floral solid gold lattice work is mounted over each pearl grip panel. The bottom of the right grip panel is signed “TIFFANY & Co PARIS.” Like most major firearm manufacturers of the time, engravers were not allowed to sign their own work. Amazingly, Tiffany was allowed to mark the piece made on special order as well as those made for private customers. Matching serial numbers appear on the butt, cylinder and barrel. The accompanying factory letter lists this revolver with a 3 1/4 inch barrel, nickel finish and checkered black hard rubber grips when part of a 10 unit shipment of this model sent on December 23, 1890 and delivered to Von Lengerke & Antoine of Paris, France.

Rating Definition:

Very good, retaining 90% silver plating overall. The etching remains well-defined on the barrel, cylinder and trigger guard, the embellishment is faint on the refinished frame. The grips are excellent with the fiery colors of the pearl and the gold beautifully complementing each other. Mechanically excellent. Do not miss your opportunity to acquire a 19th century S&W Tiffany! Provenance: Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.

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