If you remove the grips you will find a date on the left side of the grip frame. Either a 3 or 4 digit number usually separated by a period or dot. e.g. 10.33 would be October 1933 4.55 would be April 1955.
The star was not always used (but mostly was used) as an indicator in line with the serial number.
The earliest markings like this, that I have ever seen or recorded, is about the early 1900s. I have 1926 on a S&W American Transition that I own, the latest I've ever seen was 1973.
Likely it extends even further back a few years but not much newer than 1973.
Some other markings might be a DIAMOND SHAPE EMBLEM with a B or a N inside or near it, or a R-N (for refinished nickel) or R-B (refinished blue) or R-S (refinished standard) blue. The R-N, R-B, R-S are usually but not necessarily inside a rectangular shape border.
Some guns may have more than one date for each time it was returned for repairs or refinish.
A S&W Letter from Roy Jinks may include the data on when returned if within certain years in his database or others may be at the S&W Historical Foundation who you can contact only after you have the S&W letter from Roy Jinks if you are a donating member of the Historical Foundation. Charges from the Historical foundation are per-page. Your membership in the S&WHF does not get you free documents but it does get you the privilege of ascertaining if other documents are present and copies of what is there.
Currently, I believe, the S&WHF has converted / scanned / indexed records from the 1920s through most of the 1940s. Based upon what gun it is, possibly some in the 1950s.
Last edited by model3sw; 03-21-2017 at 03:51 PM.