Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1228: 1893 World's Fair Tiffany S&W 38 Safety Hammerless Revolver

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Documented Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless 3rd Model Double Action Revolver Exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $40,000 - $60,000

Exceptionally Rare, Iconic, Documented Deluxe Tiffany & Co. Embellished Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless 3rd Model Double Action Revolver Exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 38 Safety Hammerless
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 S&W
Barrel: 4 inch solid rib
Finish: silver
Grip: silver
Stock:
Item Views: 1474
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 181
Class: Antique
Description:

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, such as this example, 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 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. This Tiffany masterpiece was exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago as confirmed in S&W’s period publication “Description and Prices of Finely Decorated Revolvers Prepared for World’s Fair at Chicago, 1893.” Among the 5 page list of the numerous S&Ws displayed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair S&Ws, this revolver is described as “Safety Hammerless Revolver, 38 calibre, heavy silver scroll and flowers, No. 83748” at a price of $160.00. The sterling silver Tiffany grip covers the frame and recoil shield and features masterful full coverage relief scroll and floral pattern. The silver plated barrel and cylinder have an etched pattern on a matte background that matches the grip. Tiffany normally marked each piece they made on special order. However, this example lacks such a visible marking. The serial number “83748” appears on the cylinder and barrel. The accompanying factory letter states the revolver with a 4 inch barrel, nickel finish and checkered black hard rubber grips when shipped on August 31, 1894 and delivered to Hartley & Graham Co. of New York City. Provenance: The Dr. Gerald Klaz Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent as a Tiffany exhibition masterpiece exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, retaining 98% of the age darkened silver plating, 98% plus of the blue finish on the trigger guard and some original case colors on the trigger. The grip is also excellent with a highly attractive aged appearance. Mechanically excellent. A true Tiffany masterpiece showcased at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago worthy of the finest public or private collections. Tiffany & Co. S&Ws are some the rarest high art firearms in existence with some on display at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art. Don't let this one slip away as it is a must have for the serious S&W or firearms art collector!



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