Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 26: Smith & Wesson No. 2, Type III Lever Action Repeating Pistol

Auction Date: December 4, 2020

Extremely Rare, Documented Serial Number 1 Smith & Wesson No. 2, Type III Lever Action Repeating Pistol Formerly of the Famed Robert Sutherland Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $45,000 - $70,000

Extremely Rare, Documented Serial Number 1 Smith & Wesson No. 2, Type III Lever Action Repeating Pistol Formerly of the Famed Robert Sutherland Collection

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: Volcanic
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 41 Volcanic
Barrel: 8 inch
Finish: blue
Grip: varnished rosewood
Item Views: 1928
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 22
Class: Antique

This Smith & Wesson No. 2, Type III Lever Action Repeating Pistol was manufactured c. 1854. It has the distinctive Type III features which include: (1) streamlined frame without the hump behind the hammer, (2) crowned muzzle, (3) T-bar magazine spring and (4) lever with no finger spur. The eight-inch, part-round/part-octagon barrel with integral ten-shot magazine has a long muzzle collar, full rib and iron, clamshell shaped follower. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped: "PATENT/FEB 14. 1854," "SMITH & WESSONNORWICH. CT.," and "CAST STEEL" in three blocks. The iron frame has the streamlined profile associated with the large brass frame Volcanic Repeating Arms pistols. The frame has the single screw cartridge carrier used on S&W No. 2, Type I lever action pistols and flat ejection port ends. A simple v-shaped rear sight is mounted in a dovetail on the top of the frame. The loading lever lacks the finger spur found on most Type I and Type II No. 2 pistols. The pistol has S&W factory engraving consisting of open scroll and leaf designs on the top and sides of the frame, side-plates, back strap and back of the hammer. S&W used some variation in the scroll and leaf motif throughout production. Factory engraving was generally confined to the frame, and the limited and simple coverage was a means to attract sales appeal while keeping costs low. A few examples are known to have more elaborate embellishments and were meant as exhibition or presentation pieces. The lever reached the hands of the engraver. The modest engraving on the lever on this example is certainly a deviation from the standard practice. The embellishment consists of a dot motif set in a triple diamond pattern, and a star is engraved in each of the outer and center dots. Additional stars are featured on the lever ring. Truly a one-of-a-kind eloquent S&W motif. The barrel and frame are blued, and the hammer trigger and lever are casehardened. The two-piece, flared rosewood grips have a high gloss piano finish. The serial number "1" is stamped on the left side of the butt beneath the grip and on the top inside of both grips. The S&W No. 2, Type III pistols had their own serial number range - this is the prototype S&W No.2, Type III lever action repeating pistol. Total production of all three variations of the S&W No. 2 pistol was small; only about 500 large frame, .41 caliber pistols were manufactured. The Type III lever action pistols are the rarest of the S&W No. 2 pistol series. This pistol was formerly of the famed Robert Sutherland collection and is pictured and identified in R.L. Wilson's "The Book of Colt Firearms" on page 67.

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine. The barrel and integral magazine retain 60% of the bright original blue finish. Surfaces of the barrel/magazine are generally smooth with the exception of some light discoloration on the right side of the magazine near the junction with the frame. The barrel legend is sharp. The front sight blade is missing. The blue finish on the receiver has faded to a smooth, silver gray patina. Traces of the original blue are visible in protected areas of the frame near the trigger. Small amounts of fire blue finish remain on the rear of the bolt. The hammer, trigger and lever have a smooth, mottled, silver-gray patina. The grips are both very fine with light handling marks and retain 85% of the piano finish. This is the first example of a S&W No. 2, Type III lever action pistol ever offered for sale by the Rock Island Auction Company and no doubt the finest of its type! Provenance: Robert Sutherland collection and Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.

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