Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 324: Deputy Sheriff's Smith & Wesson .44 DA First Model Revolver

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Individual Shipped Smith & Wesson .44 Double Action First Model Revolver Owned by Vermont Deputy Sheriff Dr. G.W. Hoffman with Factory Letter and Frock Coat

Estimated Price: $5,500 - $7,500

Individual Shipped Smith & Wesson .44 Double Action First Model Revolver Owned by Vermont Deputy Sheriff Dr. G.W. Hoffman with Factory Letter and Frock Coat

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 44 Double Action
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 S&W Russian
Barrel: 5 inch solid rib
Finish: blue
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 319
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 169
Class: Antique

Offered here is a historically desirable S&W .44 DA First Model Revolver identified to Vermont dentist and deputy sheriff Dr. G.W. Hoffman. The accompanying factory letter confirms the 5 inch barrel, blue finish and pearl grips. The revolver was billed at $26.50 and the shipment included 100 .44 S&W Russian cartridges priced at $1.80, 500 primers priced at $1.25 and a set of .44 loading tools priced at $2.45. The revolver was shipped on June 28, 1881 and delivered to G.W. Hoffman, White River Junction, Vermont. It is rare for the S&W records to list a shipment to an individual. As S&W historian Roy Jinks remarked in the factory letter, "It is unusual to find shipment directly to an individual as in this case." The revolver has matching serial numbers on the butt, cylinder, barrel and barrel latch. Dr. G.W. Hoffman (1854-1900), affectionately known as "Doc, was a Vermont dentist and deputy sheriff who tragically lost his life in the line of duty while pursuing escaped convicts. In his teens, Dr. Hoffman worked for the railroad but with less than 2 years of employment was injured on the job when struck between two railroad cars. From the advise of his physician Dr. Hoffman went westward, employed by the U.S. government as a telegraph operator and served with the rank of lieutenant at frontier posts. By age 22 he was back in Vermont studying dentistry. For 21 years he ran a successful practice in White River Junction, Vermont. For the last ten years of his life, Dr. Hoffman had been a deputy sheriff. He was reported to have said that "he never knew what fear was." At the time of his death a local paper remarked, "[Dr. Hoffman's] last adventure, the attempted capture of escaped prisoners, his courage was not found wanting." In April 1900 three prisoners escaped from a county jail, and a posse was organized to track down the criminals. Dr. Hoffman was a part of that posse that confronted the escapees sitting at a campfire in the woods. Shots were exchanged. Dr. Hoffman was wounded and two days later died of his gunshot wound. The criminals escaped but were caught two weeks later after a second shootout with law enforcement officials who had organized a massive manhunt for them. The man who killed Dr. Hoffman was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging but his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, was released between 1910-1920 and died in a homeless shelter in 1943. Dr. Hoffman's frock coat by C.E. Ward Co. of New London, OH and voluminous consignor research accompany the gun including many photos and newspaper articles about Dr. Hoffman and his killers, as well as the law enforcement officers who tracked and captured them and the coverage of the trials and sentencing.

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retaining 97% original blue finish with some minor handling marks. 97% original case colors remain on the trigger and hammer. The grips are also excellent with a tiny chip near the top (right panel) and highly attractive fiery colors. Mechanically excellent. This outstanding individual shipped S&W .44 Double Action First Model Revolver identified to Deputy Sheriff Dr. G.W. Hoffman will make a grand statement to any S&W or law enforcement collection.

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