Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 288: Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Double Revolver

Auction Date: December 4, 2020

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 3rd Model Revolver with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $55,000

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 3rd Model Revolver with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 38 Double Action
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 S&W
Barrel: 5 inch solid rib
Finish: nickel
Grip: silver
Item Views: 2186
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 248
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. “Revolvers of the most improved types, mounted in silver, carved ivory, gold, etc. with rich and elaborate decorations,” proclaimed the Tiffany Blue Book catalog, would set a customer back $50.00 to $300.00. Although the number of surviving Tiffany S&Ws remains unknown, they are arguably the rarest and most desirable of the late 19th century American high art firearms. The sterling silver Tiffany grip covers the frame and recoil shield and features masterful Art Nouveau leaf and vine pattern and a highly stylized initials on the butt. The grip is signed "TIFFANY & CO./STERLING" over what appears to be the letter “M,” a letter marking Tiffany used from 1862-91, just behind the trigger guard. Tiffany marked each piece they made on special order. The frame serial number is not visible. The serial number “282198” is marked on the cylinder, barrel and barrel latch. The barrel and cylinder are plated in nickel, the trigger guard is blued, and the hammer and trigger are casehardened. The accompanying factory letter lists this revolver with a 5 inch barrel, nickel finish and checkered hard rubber grips when shipped on June 7, 1892 and delivered to M.W. Robinson Co. of New York City. 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.

Rating Definition:

Excellent as highly embellished by the renowned Tiffany & Co., retaining 99% plus original nickel plating showing some minor handling marks. 95% thinned original blue finish remains on the trigger guard. Traces of original case colors remain on the hammer and trigger guard. The grip has a highly attractive untouched aged silver appearance and a crisp leaf and vine motif. Mechanically excellent. An exceptionally rare Tiffany embellished revolver. Provenance: Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.

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