Smith And Wesson Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I "inherited" about 5 years ago what I am told in a Letter of Authenticity from S&W is a .38 S&W Special Military & Police Model of 1905 Third change. According to the info in the Authenticity Letter, this "modification occurred in 1909 and was produced until 1915". The letter also stated when it was shipped from the factory (1913) and where it was delivered to (New York, NY). I would really like to get more information about the gun but SWH can't help since their records only go back to 1920. Family stories have this gun coming from an Uncle who was on a major city police force to my Dad. Any family members who would know more information have all passed. The S&W letter also suggested that the grips are aftermarket and it appears the revolver has been refinished. Any help to narrow down the history or where to look or research would be greatly appreciated.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
794 Posts
Pictures are very useful . Both sides and the crane area just in front of the open cylinder. Also, the butt showing the serial number. Hank
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,476 Posts
Family stories have this gun coming from an Uncle who was on a major city police force to my Dad.
"Family stories" are highly unreliable, as people bringing "family heirlooms" to the Antiques Roadshow are told all the time. If you know the city in which your Uncle worked, I should think the PD would have personnel records verifying that part of the story, & maybe you could find out whether at that time officers purchased, or were issued, their service weapons.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,464 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,473 Posts
Agree, could check with police departments and possibly old newspapers as they might shed some history on the Uncle that used it. Sounds like you would like to have some history to pass on to the next generation inheriting it. So what you know would right down in memoirs and keep with gun. I have two and they are fun and accurate to shoot.
This one from 1917 and is lettered and original.
IMG_3928.JPG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,555 Posts
There are things you can research since you stated it was a major city's PD. As you were told a lot of family lore just does not hold up to scrutiny. The simple math is that the original purchaser was born in 1892 or earlier.

You know you have a gun of your Dad's and that is something many of our members would envy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,501 Posts
The letter also stated when it was shipped from the factory (1913) and where it was delivered to (New York, NY). I would really like to get more information about the gun but SWH can't help since their records only go back to 1920. Family stories have this gun coming from an Uncle who was on a major city police force to my Dad.
NY, NY is as major as they come, city wise. Ancestry.com may be your best route to find which police dept your uncle served. They have a free 14 day trial.

John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
38 S&W Special - looking for more info

"Family stories" are highly unreliable, as people bringing "family heirlooms" to the Antiques Roadshow are told all the time. If you know the city in which your Uncle worked, I should think the PD would have personnel records verifying that part of the story, & maybe you could find out whether at that time officers purchased, or were issued, their service weapons.
My Uncle--who I believe the gun came from--was a Major on the Louisville (KY) police force until his death in 1969. I remember Dad having the gun then, over 50 years ago. As I said in my original post, any and all individuals who would have memory or be able to give any information have all passed. Considering the time span and the fact he is no longer living, I don't think the LPD would still have records on his service.

I've attached a photo of the gun and a clip from the S&W letter that gives serial number and other information.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,555 Posts
The nickel hammer and trigger are a dead giveaway on the refinish. Also Louisville went metro several years back, so where the old city records went? File photos from the Courier-Journal might shed some light on arming practices. Jefferson County was once home to a number of incorporated governments.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,766 Posts
Very nice family heirloom.

Now you're starting to appreciate the challenge to historians. I spent 6 years working on a book about Paul Mauser that was based on his private archives. We discovered many facts that put any number of assumptions to truth. I expect as you seriously start to work on this project you'll do the same.

You need to try and determine the existence, location, and extent of archival material that relates to your relatives. This could be from public, journalistic or private sources. You started by accessing the resources of Smith and Wesson's records, but that's only the first step. Have you checked under the grips for any markings that might track back to the manufacturer of the grips or the party that refinished the revolver?

It's quite possible that upon retirement, your father's brother or upon giving it to your father, he decided to bring it back to as new an appearance as they could, especially after it had been carried for many years of service. It's been a long time since ivory was available for making grips like that, so the work it likely quite old.

Try and locate the records of the department your uncle worked for. Don't assume anything (you know that's a contraction of "ass-u-me")... Reach out to the cities involved, the agencies involved and any organization that might be holding archives.

Census records are certainly useful. I've found details of my own family, including those that lead back to identifying the ships they came to America on and the regions that the family is from in Europe. You should be able to locate such information for these relatives.

The watchword on such a project is "never give up". You'll be surprised what you'll find digitized and available online, but also what you can locate that is still in boxes and on paper.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
.38 Military & Police Model, 1905 Third Change - seeking more background

The nickel hammer and trigger are a dead giveaway on the refinish. Also Louisville went metro several years back, so where the old city records went? File photos from the Courier-Journal might shed some light on arming practices. Jefferson County was once home to a number of incorporated governments.
Thanks for the info on the hammer and trigger. Thinking I could find a connection, I looked through Newspaper.com and found several articles (with photos) about Uncle and his police service, but none showing him and the S&W. If there were any records left, I would have to make a request using a Open Records Request to the Department.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
18,605 Posts
welcome01 to the forums from the Wiregrass! You might want to contact the PD and ask if they have a historian. Some of the larger, older departments did, but I'm not sure if they still maintain the information. We see this problem all the time here with inheritances. At least you were fortunate in getting an historian's letter.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top