Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 209: Presentation Pair of Smith & Wesson New Model 3 Target Revolvers

Auction Date: May 14, 2021

Well-Documented, NRA Silver Medal Award Winning Cased Pair of Consecutively Serialized, Exhibition Quality Gustave Young Factory Engraved and Gold Plated Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 Target Revolvers Presented by the Prince of Wales to Famed Marksman Captain Leon Martin Formerly of the Famed Harolds Club Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $47,500 - $95,000

A) Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 Target Revolver

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: New Model No 3
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 S&W Russian
Barrel: 6 12 inch solid rib
Finish: gold
Grip: pearl
Stock:
Item Views: 935
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 192
Class: Antique
Description:

This presentation set of consecutively serialized S&W New Model No. 3 Target Revolvers feature splendid, highly sought after factory engraving by famed Master Engraver Gustave Young. Young worked with Smith & Wesson as early as 1865 after serving as Colt's Master Engraver and was the in-house engraver for Smith & Wesson starting in 1869 until his death in 1895. His sons, Oscar, Eugene, and Robert, also worked for Smith & Wesson and used similar styles. On these revolvers Young's elaborate, exhibition quality scrollwork on a punch dot background covers 80% the surfaces. The two-line barrel rib legends end with the reissue patent date. Matching respective serial numbers are on the butt, cylinder, barrel, and barrel latch. Each revolver has a gold plated barrel, cylinder and frame and smooth pearl grips. The leather bound presentation case is lined in velour. The interior of the lid has a presentation placard. This placard is in French and translates, "Revolvers offered by the Prince of Wales, King of England, to Captain Leon Martin, First Marksman of the World." This set will factory letter as a special order item shipped on June 18, 1891 to C.L. Daily. Daily was a sharpshooter and associate of famed American showman Buffalo Bill. In 1883, Buffalo Bill founded "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", a circus-like extravaganza that toured widely for three decades in the United States and later throughout Europe. His legendary show was a highly popular form of late 19th century entertainment that featured Native Americans and cowboys performing elaborate productions, which helped to solidify the legend of the American Western Frontier that still resonates today. In 1887, the show traveled to Europe. In all, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West toured Europe eight times. The first four tours occurred between 1887 and 1892 and the last four from 1902 to 1906, bringing to Europe an exotic form of American entertainment which was even viewed by Queen Victoria and members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales. Capt. Martin was a British Army officer who performed at a shooting exhibition for which these revolvers were presented. Purportedly, this event was held in conjunction with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West while touring in Europe. Martin, who was a contemporary of machine gun inventor Hiram Maxim, performed with him at shooting events in the 1890s and early 1900s in the United Kingdom and United States and even took part in publicly testing a "bullet-proof coat" in 1894 (copy of newspaper article included). The revolvers are identified and pictured in R.L. Wilson and Greg Martin's "Buffalo Bill's Wild West: An American Legend" on page 95 (the barrel length and caliber are incorrectly listed) and in Hank Bowman's "Famous Guns from the Harolds Club Collection" on page 122. Both books are included. The Harolds Club was a Reno, Nevada, casino that opened in 1935 and closed in 1995. By the early 1960s, the Harolds Club possessed a collection of some 3,000 guns in all with about 2,000 displayed in the Roaring Camp Room, the Silver Dollar Bar, and elsewhere throughout the casino. Co-owner Harold Smith Sr. called it "one of the world's greatest gun collections," but in 1993 the collection was sold to Butterfield & Butterfield, and the guns were auctioned off in 1994. In May 2010, this set was awarded the National Rifle Association's Annual Meetings "10 Best" Silver Medal Arms Award, "one of a maximum of ten certificates awarded each year to arms of outstanding historical value, or beauty, or rarity, selected from displays of the NRA's Affiliated Gun Collector Organizations," in Charlotte, North Carolina. The silver medal, No. 488, is included.

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retaining 95% original gold plating with flaking on the balance and an area of pitting on the back strap. The engraving is crisp. Some original case colors remain on the hammer and trigger guard. The grips are also excellent showing minimal handling evidence and highly attractive fiery colors. Mechanically excellent. The case is good with minor-moderate wear and some material loss on the exterior leather and some typical high spot wear on the lining. Nearly all of the presentation label remains. A historically significant, high condition Prince of Wales presentation pair of consecutively serialized New Model No. 3 Target Revolvers rightfully deserving of the world's finest public or private collection. An absolute must have for the serious S&W collector.



B) Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 Target Revolver

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: New Model No 3
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 S&W Russian
Barrel: 6 1/2 inch solid rib
Finish: gold
Grip: pearl
Stock:
Item Views: 935
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 192
Class: Antique
Description:

As described in "B" but with the rear leaf sight absent. The photo used in "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" clearly shows that the sight has been absent since at least 2004 when the book was published.

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retaining 95% plus of the original gold plating with flaking on the balance and an area of pitting on the left side of the frame. The engraving is crisp. 50% original case colors remain on the hammer and trigger guard. The grips are also excellent showing minimal handling evidence and highly attractive fiery colors. Mechanically excellent.



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