Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3315: Factory Inscribed Colt Military Model 1902 Pistol

Auction Date: August 28, 2022

Historic, Extensively Documented, Factory Inscribed Colt Military Model 1902 Semi-Automatic Pistol Ordered by Future Admiral Richmond K. Turner for Future Rear Admiral Milo F. Draemel During Their Time at the U.S. Naval Academy with Factory Letter, Documentation, Officer's Sword, Medals, Epaulettes, Hat, Books, and Other Accessories

Estimated Price: $10,000 - $20,000

Historic, Extensively Documented, Factory Inscribed Colt Military Model 1902 Semi-Automatic Pistol Ordered by Future Admiral Richmond K. Turner for Future Rear Admiral Milo F. Draemel During Their Time at the U.S. Naval Academy with Factory Letter, Documentation, Officer's Sword, Medals, Epaulettes, Hat, Books, and Other Accessories

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1902 Military
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 38 Colt auto
Barrel: 6 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: carved
Item Views: 836
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 213
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

This Colt Military Model 1902 pistol was manufactured in 1906 and is listed on p. 182 of "The Government Models: The Development of the Colt Model of 1911" by Goddard as being engraved "M.F.D. from his youngsters", an inscription which is found on the back strap, and shipped to "Midn. R.K. Turner" on 6 February 1906. The included factory letter confirms the current configuration (grips not listed), including the inscription, as well as the previously mentioned shipment date and recipient. Interestingly, the consecutively numbered pistol 12195 (serial numbers counting down), noted just after this example on the same page of Goddard's book gives some further insight into this pistol's deep connections to the U.S. Navy. Shipping on the same day in 1906, serial number 12195 is also listed as engraved with the inscription "'Wm. Lowndes Calhoun USN' from the 11th Co. USNA 2/12/06" and was shipped to "Midn. J.W. Kenyon". These pistols were likely ordered at the same time, both for presentation to an upper classman, teacher, and mentor at the U.S. Naval Academy. An included document by Theodore F. Mayer, a previous owner of the pistol, states that the "M.F.D." in the inscription refers to Milo Frederick Draemel, who was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy in 1906. Mayer came to this conclusion due to there being only one student or staff member with the initials M.F.D. in the 1906 "Lucky Bag" (yearbook) for the academy. Draemel was a company commander and second battalion staff at the academy, and due to being one of the top in his class, was also given a teaching position instructing younger midshipmen, or "youngsters" who ordered this pistol for him. Draemel graduated early in February 1906 due to a dire need for junior officers in America's "Great White Fleet" of new battleships. He served on various battleships through World War I and then attended the Naval War College from 1924 to 1926. From 1933 to 1936, he was an instructor at the Naval War College while it was attended by the same "R.K. Turner" who ordered the pistol for him, and in 1937, Draemel was made Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, a role he held until 1939. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. joining the Second World War, Draemel was made Chief of Staff to the Commander PYE, Pacific Fleet as a strategist and planner, also serving as Vice Admiral William Halsey's destroyer commander. In 1942, he was made commander of amphibious forces in the Pacific Fleet, recommending against the invasions of the Northern Marianas, Saipan, Tinian, the Marshalls, and the Carolines. This recommendation was met with disdain by both Halsey and Nimitz, who preferred an aggressive island hopping campaign to Draemel's idea of bypassing the Japanese island strongholds to "let them die on the vine" while pushing to attack the Japanese mainland. Mostly due to these disagreements, Draemel was replaced after the Battle of Midway and instead made Commandant of the 4th Naval District in Philadelphia. In 1946, he was placed on the Retired List of the navy at the rank of rear admiral. He was awarded both the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit for his services during World War II, and he died on 25 February 1971. The same document from Mayer also identifies "R.K. Turner" as Richmond Kelly Turner, who was a sophomore or "youngster" at the Naval Academy in 1906. Turner graduated from the academy in 1908, fifth in his class and "with distinction", having commanded the academy's second battalion in his final year. During World War I, he served aboard various cruisers and battleships, shortly after the war changing course into the fledgling branch of naval aviation, becoming a rated naval aviator in 1926. He became executive officer of the carrier USS Saratoga, Commander Aircraft Battle Force of the U.S. Fleet, and attended the Naval War College where Draemel was an instructor. By the beginning of World War II, Turner was a rear admiral and was the director of the navy's Department of War Plans in Naval Operations. On 25 November 1941, Turner drafted a dispatch intended for release by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), in which he warned of a likely impending attack by the Empire of Japan. The CNO took this message to the president, who softened the language of the message, lowering its tone of urgency, and released it under his own name. Many claim that this change in language played a role in the lack of combat readiness among the fleet at Pearl Harbor, as well as the disastrous defeat that took place there on 7 December 1941. In December that same year, Turned was appointed assistant chief of staff to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and in June of 1942 was appointed commander of Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force. Through the rest of the war, Turner held various senior amphibious commands which had him involved in almost every major amphibious operation in the Pacific Theater including Guadalcanal, the Russell Islands, Tarawa, Makin, the Marshall Islands, Tinian, Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On 24 May 1945, Turner was promoted to full admiral, and there is little doubt that had there been an invasion of the Japanese mainland undertaken, it would have been Admiral Turner that commanded it. He was present at the surrender of the Empire of Japan and can be seen in many of the photographs of the signing of the surrender, some of which are included. He retired from active duty in 1947 and died in 1961. A plethora of items are included with the lot, many related to either of these men. In a small display case are two sets of shoulder boards, one for a rear admiral and one for a midshipman second class at the Naval Academy, a Navy Cross, two Distinguished Service Medals, two Legion of Merit medals, two sets of stars, one for a rear admiral (upper half) and one for an admiral, a Great White Fleet challenge coin, an empty brass case (possibly for a compass), and an empty pocket watch case marked "BUREAU OF SHIPS/U.S. NAVY/COMPARING WATCH" and dated 1942. An 1872 Pattern U.S. naval officer's sword is included with the Draemel's initials inscribed on the top of the pommel and has an ornately etched blade. A cased epaulette set bearing commander rank with bicorne hat and sword belt. The lot also includes a large grouping of books, many of which are copies of "Lucky Bag" (Naval Academy yearbook) from various years, some pertaining to amphibious operations in the Pacific Theater, a naval aviation book in a hardwood case, and some pertaining generally to the navy. There is a framed print of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1908 by Richard Rummell. Along with all of this is a "souvenir copy" of "Instrument of Surrender of the Japanese Emperor and Government at Tokyo Bay" which is signed by Admiral Turner to Lieutenant R.P. Mathias, also of the U.S. Navy, as well as various pictures taken at the surrender ceremony. The pistol itself was manufactured in 1906 and exhibits remnants of the early-production high polish blue finish and rounded hammer which was completely phased out around serial number 37000, when the numbers began ascending again from 30200 to 43266. This pistol was manufactured in the first serial number block descending from 15200 to 11000. The left side of the slide is marked with the two-line patent date and two-line address arranged in two blocks with the circled Rampant Colt at the rear. The right side of the slide has the two-line caliber marking in front of the ejector port. The left side of the frame has the serial number and "VP" and "1" on the trigger guard. It is fitted with blade and rounded top notch sights, serrations at the rear of the slide, a lanyard swivel on the lower left of the grip frame, and an unmarked full blue magazine. The grips were likely fitted by Draemel during the pistol's time of use and have been carved with his initials "MD" on the left, a Billiken on the right (a popular good luck charm around the time), and matching checkering patterns on both.

Rating Definition:

Very good, retains 20% of the original blue finish, mostly visible in sheltered areas, with the balance a smooth grey patina and a few scattered patches of light pitting. The grips are fine with some scattered light handling marks, three replacement screws, and a small patch of glue on one of the letters on the left. Mechanically excellent. The sword is fine showing an attractive aged patina. Other accessories are generally fine or better with some showing some mild wear. The books, photos, and documents are generally good or better with a few showing heavier wear. An impressive collection of U.S. Navy memorabilia with deep connections to two of its legendary admirals, one a Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy and the other in command of the most pivotal amphibious assaults in the Pacific Theater during World War II!

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