Rarely do we catalog serial number 1 of any model of firearm, especially those that have gained legendary status like the S&W Schofield. The Schofield revolvers were arguably some of the best revolvers of the period. These revolvers were based on modifications of the standard Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver by Col. George Schofield to make it easier for cavalrymen to reload while riding. The top break design allowed for much faster extraction and reloading than Colt's Single Action Army design; some tests suggest a trained cavalryman could reload the Schofield in half the time he could load a SAA. The slightly lower power .45 S&W Schofield cartridge also had more manageable recoil which allows for faster follow up shots but still proved effective in battle. However, the U.S. Ordnance Department favored Colt's slower loading solid frame design. That Smith & Wesson chambered it for their proprietary cartridge rather than .45 Colt certainly did not help. Colt's design was more durable and reliable. It was occasional supply line problems that put an end to the Army's use of the Schofield and sticking with Colt's famous revolvers; .45 Colt ammunition would only work in the Colts, but the .45 Schofield worked in both revolvers but was not always shipped to units issued Schofield revolvers. Thus, the Schofields were removed from military service by the end of the decade, and the revolvers made their way onto the commercial market. Many were altered or updated by retailers to fit their customers' tastes. Many were used by lawmen, express agents, outlaws, and pioneers in the Old West. Frank James, Jesse James, and Cole Younger are all reputed to have used Schofields at one time. Rock Island auction Co. is extremely honored to present serial number 1, the revolver that initiated the S&W Schofield legacy. This well-documented, NRA Silver Medal award winning Schofield serial no.1 is certainly worthy of the finest S&W, U.S. martial or Old West collections. Gun collectors across various genres have discovered the Schofield, and these revolvers are extremely popular. Why not own the first?! Its historical significance cannot be understated. No. 1 saw military service during the Indian Wars as well as civilian service with the famed Western express and banking enterprise Wells Fargo. It was among the 3,000 First Models purchased by the U.S. Government in 1875. They were used by the U.S. Army for a few years, with many being issued to the 4th Cavalry which saw service in the "Geronimo Campaign" and the famous 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry comprised of the "Buffalo Soldiers" stationed in the American Southwest, and then sold as surplus on the civilian market and used in the West by Wells Fargo express agents and many others. Wells Fargo purchased several hundred, including no. 1. The barrel has been shortened during its period of use with Wells Fargo, as was common with 19th century revolvers purchased by the various express companies. The right side of the ejector rod shroud has the Wells Fargo marking: "W.F.&CO. EX. 1". The U.S. military markings include "US" stamped on the butt and "L" and "P" stamped on the barrel and rear cylinder face. The back of the right grip panel has the number “702.” The matching serial number “1” appears on the butt and rear cylinder face. At the NRA Annual Meetings in 1994, this Schofield No. 1 was awarded the coveted "10 Best" Silver Medal Arms Award, "one of a maximum of ten certificates awarded each year to arms of outstanding historical value, or beauty, or rarity, selected from displays of the NRA's Affiliated Gun Collector Organizations." The silver medal was No. 335, and the medal is included along with its original case as well as the small “Ten Best Arms Award 1994” plaque with stand. This high profile Schofield has been featured in a number of publications including: the centerfold to the October 2008 issue of “America’s 1st Freedom” (pages 50-51, issue included as well as the Wells Fargo Co. Express sign used in the photo), Supica and Nahas “Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson” on pages 99-100, Dean Boorman’s “The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms” on page 107, John Parsons’ “Smith & Wesson Revolvers” on page 92, David Chicoine’s “Smith & Wesson Sixguns of the Old West” on page 130, Gun Digest’s “The Illustrated History of Firearms” on page 94, NRA 2008 “Guns West” exhibit catalog on page 24, and “Guns of the NRA National Sporting Firearms Museum” on page 199. The revolver was displayed at the NRA National Firearms Museum from 2008-2009 and then at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum from 2013-2022 and featured on "Serial Number One Guns" episode of Outdoor Channel's "Gun Stories" (season 4, episode 16). Includes a S&W Collectors Association best display belt buckle with etching of this gun that was awarded to previous owner, the late Bill Anderson, a well known North Texas oil man, who assembled one of the 20th century's finest and most complete collections of military issue Smith & Wesson handguns. Provenance: The Herman C. Cook, Jr. Collection; The Bill Anderson Collection; The Supica Collection
Fine, showing great authentic working gun character, proudly displaying 70% period retailer nickel plating, patterns of case colors on the hammer, and replacement grips with minor handling marks. Mechanically excellent. Serial no. 1 certainly has all the hallmarks of a well traveled sidearm that came out of the western frontier. As the first production gun, this Schofield, which saw both U.S. and Wells Fargo service, will make a grand statement in your collection no matter how advanced. It is a must have for the serious collector.