Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 494: Douglass Wesson Presented Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Historic, Well-Documented, Presentation Inscribed Smith & Wesson .357 Registered Magnum Double Action Revolver Presented by Smith & Wesson Vice President Douglas Wesson to Big Game Hunter Colonel Alexander J. "Sandy" MacNab with Factory Letter

Estimated Price: $18,000 - $27,500

Historic, Well-Documented, Presentation Inscribed Smith & Wesson .357 Registered Magnum Double Action Revolver Presented by Smith & Wesson Vice President Douglas Wesson to Big Game Hunter Colonel Alexander J. "Sandy" MacNab with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: Registered Magnum
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 357 magnum
Barrel: 6 1/2 inch solid rib
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 568
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 288
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

Offered here is a presentation inscribed Registered Magnum revolver presented by S&W Vice President Douglas Wesson to Colonel Alexander J. "Sandy" MacNab. This revolver is accompanied by documents that verify the historic presentation. The factory letter (photocopy) confirms the registration number (1183), 6 1/2 inch barrel and inscription on the right side plate. This inscription reads, "COLONEL SANDY MACNAB/FROM/DOUG WESSON." It was shipped on June 26, 1936, and delivered to Colonel A.J. MacNab without an address listed. Born in 1878 in Idaho, Colonel MacNab enjoyed a successful U.S. military career that spanned the Spanish-American War to the inter-war period. During the Philippines Campaign following the Spanish-American War, Col. MacNab gained a reputation for unwavering bravery. In one insurrectionist province he received the moniker “El Presidente.” From 1907 to 1917, he was rated the best pistol shot in the Army. His un-matched marksmanship led him to be assigned to the staff of General John Pershing during World War I. It was Pershing who placed Col. MacNab in command of a rifle school at Le Mans where 200,000 men learned marksmanship with the Springfield rifle every six days. He rightfully became known as “the man who taught the AEF how to shoot.” After the war he supervised the international pistol and rifle competition at Camp Perry, Ohio. From 1927 to 1930, Col. MacNab served as a military attaché in Mexico. Unable to receive a general’s star, he retired in 1935 and served as an instructor for both the New York and New Jersey National Guards. At the outbreak of World War II, Col. MacNab was recalled to serve as a liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. As a big game hunter, he likely shot every species of North American game. He led two safaris to Africa. His 1938 safari brought back two tons of trophies for the American Museum of Natural History and the first color film footage of an albino giraffe. He died at the age of 77 in 1955. As to his connection to Douglas Wesson, a typewritten letter dated April 30, 1994 and signed by Clifford J. Edwards, M.D., of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, provides a story of friendship and historic revelations related to the development of the .357 Registered Magnum. We will allow Edwards to explain in his own words: “Some years ago, in the early 1930s, I believe, when Sandy was taking a trip to Alaska, his friend, Doug Wesson gave him a pistol and asked Sandy to try it out and give Doug his opinion of it. On Sandy’s return, Doug asked him what he thought of it. Sandy replied, ‘It’s pretty nice; I think I’ll keep it.’ Doug replied, ‘The hell you will, that’s the prototype. I’ll give you one of the first when it goes into production.’” The pistol Wesson gave Col. MacNab was the prototype to the .357 Registered Magnum. When the Registered Magnum went into production, Wesson kept his promise and presented Col. MacNab with this revolver. As the first production firearm chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, the Registered Magnum set a new standard in firepower and accuracy. Each Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum was built to the specifications of the buyer, then registered by number to the owner by Douglas Wesson himself, the then Vice President of Smith & Wesson. According to Edwards, Col. MacNab used “the revolver for many years,” which included use on his Alaskan bear and moose hunts, resulting in the original firing pin having to be replaced, and the grips were modified by Col. MacNab himself for a steadier hold. This is one of 1,518 Registered Magnums manufactured with 6 1/2 inch barrels, and it features a McGivern front sight, adjustable “U” notched rear sight and standard S&W factory markings with “REG. 1183” stamped on the yoke. Matching serial numbers are stamped on the butt, right grip panel, cylinder and ejector shroud. The assembly number “6096” is stamped on the yoke and crane.

Rating Definition:

Very fine for a revolver that has seen action on the Alaskan frontier. The revolver retains 85% original blue finish with the balance between smooth brown and gray patinas. The modified grips (see above) are very good with a few minor handling marks and a few blemishes in the overall crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent. If you are looking for a historic, well-documented S&W magnum revolver, this is it! A one-of-a-kind Registered Magnum for the serious S&W collector!

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