Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 1411: Pair of J. Edgar Hoover Presentation Colt Revolver Bookends

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Historic Documented Pair of Special Order F.B.I. Colt Official Police Double Action Revolver Bookends Attributed as from the Office of First F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $7,500 - $15,000

A) Colt Official Police Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Official Police
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 Special
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: gold
Grip: walnut
Stock:
Item Views: 518
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 308
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This interesting set of bookends have a set of gold plated Colt Official Police revolvers fitted to them. Each of the wood bases are fitted with a Federal Bureau of Investigation seal as well as a small plaque that is marked "JOHN EDGAR HOOVER/40th Anniversary/FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION/MAY 10, 1964/FROM YOUR/FBI LABORATORY ASSOCIATES". Hoover was arguably one of, if not the most, powerful men in the country for a large swath of the 20th century. Considered a hero in his own time, Hoover has since gained a mixed reputation as he is known to have used the powerful department he built to amass vast knowledge on "subversives" and politicians including private details on the sexual escapades of many of the country's most powerful men and women including, President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. President Truman even claimed that Hoover used the F.B.I. as his own gestapo. Both Kennedy and Truman had considered firing Hoover but determined such a move too risky. A previously sold set of very similar revolver bookends (lacking the previously described badges/plaques) included a letter with Department of Justice and F.B.I. letterhead dated April 11, 1995, written by Special Agent/Unit Chief Swanson D. Carter of the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs states that set of revolver book ends were sold "recently" and that Carter enclosed with the letter the included copy of Conducting Research in F.B.I. Records along with an excerpt from the included book "The Director" by Ovid Demaris which demonstrates that J. Edgar Hoover owned a pair of "bookends made from Colt revolvers." Agent Carter also provided details on how to request documentation concerning Rufus R. Beaver. A notarized affidavit sworn by Rufus R. Beaver on March 20, 1991, was also included and states that he gave the revolvers to his nephew. He also states that the bookends were made by the F.B.I. as presentation pieces for Hoover. They were gold plated by the F.B.I. crime lab. Beaver further states that "Hoover kept these guns in his private inner office at bureau headquarters for a number of years up until the time of his death in 1972." After Hoover's death, his personal assistant and close friend Clyde Tolson (also claimed by some biographers to have been his lover), was left in charge of his estate. Page 371 of "The Director" lists a "Pair of colt Revolvers bookends" at a value of $75 in the U.S. District Court of D.C.'s "Inventory, Appraisal and Re-appraisal" of Hoover's estate. According to the affidavit, Beaver received the revolvers at Tolson's direction. Beaver "worked for a number of years as Mr. Tolson's assistant" and "retried from the bureau in 1971 with the rank of inspector." NOTE: These documents are not included along with this lot. Both of those previous revolvers were shipped to the F.B.I. in 1951. This pair of revolvers also each include a factory letter, both confirming .38/c caliber, 4 inch barrels, blue finish, and grips unlisted. The letter for gun "A" lists "furnished with ramp front sight, targeted, with a 3 lb. trigger pull" and shipment to Joseph A. Lorch of the F.B.I. on 19 February 1940. The letter for gun "B" lists similar information excluding the ramped sight and "targeted", with a shipment date of 16 June 1939. The time between the shipment of these revolvers and their reconfiguration into bookends certainly makes sense, given that the revolvers would have been likely near the end of their service as active F.B.I. weapons. The writer believes this set of revolvers and the previously sold pair were both part of a larger set of four or more bookends which were presented to Hoover, with the previously sold set being gifted to the above agent before the above discussed estate inventory was taken, thus creating two "sets" of nearly identical bookends. The revolvers both have standard Colt markings and features and are fitted with checkered walnut grips and Mershon Co. Inc. "Sure Grip" adapters. The round blade front sights have been modified to fix the revolvers to the wooden stands. The other contact points are on the back straps which are also fixed to the stands. Also included is a framed photograph of Hoover, which appears to have been taken in his office.

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retains 90% plus of the F.B.I. Laboratory applied gold plating with some scattered very light flaking and speckling of brown patina. The grips are also very fine with minimal handling evidence and crisp checkering. Mechanically non-functioning as converted to bookend configuration. The wood base has a few scattered minor handling/storage marks.



B) Colt Official Police Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Official Police
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 Special
Barrel: 4 inch round
Finish: gold
Grip: walnut
Stock:
Item Views: 518
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 308
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

See "A".

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retains 90% plus of the FBI Laboratory applied gold finish with some scattered light flaking and some light edge wear, revealing a bright grey patina. The grips are excellent with minimal handling marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically disabled as in bookend configuration. A rare piece of FBI history attributed to its first director, J. Edgar Hoover!



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