Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 199: Nimschke Engraved Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Revolver

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Extraordinary Presentation L.D. Nimschke Zouave Panel Scene Engraved, Gold and Silver Plated Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Old Army Revolver with Inscribed Pearl Grips and Case Featuring Incredibly Rare Key Lanyard

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $50,000

Extraordinary Presentation L.D. Nimschke Zouave Panel Scene Engraved, Gold and Silver Plated Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Old Army Revolver with Inscribed Pearl Grips and Case Featuring Incredibly Rare Key Lanyard

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 2 Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 32 RF
Barrel: 5 inch solid rib
Finish: silver/gold
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 678
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 201
Class: Antique

Offered here is a spectacular presentation silver and gold plated Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Old Army Revolver engraved by world renowned 19th century Master Engraver L.D. Nimschke. Masterful scrollwork on a matte background indicative of Nimschke’s artistry is profusely featured on the frame, barrel, and cylinder. A highly detailed panel scene of a Zouave decorates the left side plate. Several depictions of the Zouave are documented in a collection of Nimschke’s smoke pulls in R.L. Wilson's “L.D. Nimschke Firearms Engraver” (see pages 27, 29 and 45), and the attention to detail is similarly captured in the panel scene found on this revolver, leaving no doubt that this masterpiece is a Nimschke original. Additional engraved flourishes appear on the back strap, barrel rib, and butt. The barrel and frame are plated in silver, and the remaining surfaces are plated in gold. The top of the barrel rib has the standard S&W Springfield one-line address. The revolver wears pearl grips. The right grip panel is numbered to the gun. The left grip panel has a presentation inscription, which reads, “Presented/TO/J.M. FRENCH/from his friend/C.E. GOODWIN.” James Marvin French (1855-1921) of Alton Bay, New Hampshire, and C.E. Goodwin of Great Falls (now Somersworth), New Hampshire, are both listed as agents of the Boston & Maine Railroad in several editions of the “Report of the Directors of the Boston and Maine Railroad to the Stockholders” published in the 1860s. Created in 1835 and part of the Pan Am Railways since 1983, the Boston & Maine Railroad was a Class I railroad (the largest category of U.S. rail carries) operating in the northern New England region. Around the turn of the century, French was the ticket agent for the eastern, western and southern divisions of the Boston & Maine Railroad and the Fitchburg Railroad which was leased to the Boston & Maine. French’s son Edward (1883-1968) served as president of the Boston & Maine Railroad from 1930 until 1952 when he was forced to retire after his administration failed to declare a dividend since 1932. The revolver is housed in a deluxe highly figured presentation case. This case holds significant importance to the S&W collector as well as to the American antique firearms collector fraternity in general. The case provides the answer to why so many 19th century S&W cases feature a tiny hole located on the interior lip just above the latch. A period gold colored string is affixed through this hole, and the case key is tied to the other end of this string. For all intents and purposes, it is a 19th century version of a key lanyard. The key is stored underneath the cleaning rod. In all of our nearly 30 years of cataloging S&Ws, this is the first tied case key we have encountered. The delicate nature of the string and decades of use meant that many of them did not survive. This is a true rarity in S&W collecting and provides a definitive answer to a question that has left S&W collectors baffled and debating for decades. The blue velvet lined case also contains a box of S&W No. 2 cartridges with 13 rounds and one casing and features a blank presentation plaque on the exterior of the lid. Provenance: The Mac McCroskie Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent. This L.D. Nimschke masterpiece retains 97% plus of the original silver plating and 90% of the original gold plating. The engraving is crisp. The grips are also excellent showing limited handling marks, highly attractive fiery colors and crisp presentation inscription. Mechanically excellent. The case is fine with minor handling/storage marks, a few stress lines at the brass presentation plaque, an absent corner insert and typical high spot wear on the lining. This exceptional, identified presentation S&W No. 2 Army Revolver is a L.D. Nimschke masterpiece, and the case with its key lanyard resolves a question that has plagued the S&W collector community for decades. Truly a historically significant piece to the legacy of American firearms. What more could a collector want!?

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