Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 289: Tiffany & Co. Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action Revolver

Auction Date: December 4, 2020

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 4th Model Revolver with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $50,000

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Double Action 4th Model Revolver with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 38 Double Action
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 S&W
Barrel: 5 inch solid rib
Finish: blue
Grip: sterling silver cast Tiffany
Item Views: 1753
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 250
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

From the late 1880s to the early 1900s self-described “American multinational luxury jewelry and specialty retailer” Tiffany & Co. advertised some of the period’s most spectacular and expensive highly embellished weaponry for America’s leading firearms manufacturers including Colt, Winchester and especially Smith & Wesson. “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. The number of surviving Tiffany firearms remain unknown, but studies clearly show that S&W benefited the most from Tiffany’s world renowned master craftsmanship. 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 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. The sterling silver Tiffany grip covers the frame and recoil shield and features fantastic, highly ornate floral scroll pattern. The grip is signed "TIFFANY & CO./STERLING" over the letter “M”, a letter marking Tiffany is said to have used from 1862-1891, just behind the trigger guard. Tiffany marked each piece they made on special order. The frame serial number is not visible. The serial number “444722” is marked on the cylinder, barrel and barrel latch. The barrel rib has the two-line address/patent dates marking, and the left side of the barrel has the caliber designation. The barrel, cylinder and trigger guard are blued, and the hammer and trigger are casehardened. The accompanying factory letter lists this revolver with a 4 inch barrel, blue finish and checkered black hard rubber grips when shipped on June 6, 1903 and delivered to Marcus Hartley Co. of New York City.

Rating Definition:

Excellent as highly embellished by the renowned Tiffany & Co. , retaining 95% original blue finish with thinning to brown on the balance. 97% original case colors remain on the hammer and trigger guard. There is a separation along the seam ahead of the trigger guard, otherwise the grip is exceptionally fine with an attractive untouched aged appearance and crisp pattern. Mechanically excellent. Don't let this great piece of S&W history slip away! All serious S&W collectors need a least one Tiffany embellished masterpiece! Provenance: Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.

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