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Old 12-30-2012, 05:02 PM
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Hello all. Now before I get mobbed for not knowing... from what I've read here, I understand the nostalgic value of knowing where a favorite gun first shipped to. I totally get that. Perhaps hitting the lottery and finding that it was owned by a prominate figure or location in history, I get that too. I have a small old revolver that I've been told is a model 1 1/2. I intend to post pics of it eventually and ask for a definate I'd. Until I started reading here, I'd never heard of getting a Factory Letter. I just don't know anything about them. I see the link to download the application, but at present I can't open it to read it (fault of the device I'm using, not your link). Most researching requests that I'm familiar with have a fee schedule associated with them. If anyone who has done the application route could give me a "what will it cost, how long to expect to wait" kind of an explanation, I would be very grateful. Thank you in advance, ~scott
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:22 PM
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Scott - you have asked the 64 dollar question. Everyone will have their opinion, but on a completely standard gun, my opinion is that you might get the cost of the letter back from a sale. The buyer will know that the purchased gun is original and still in factory configuration. That fact might result in a faster sale, but run-of-the-mill S&Ws probably will not result in much increased value.

Now if you have an odd barrel length, ivory stocks, engraving, unusual finish, etc., verifying the gun left the factory that way is most likely a large value adder.

I have several of my guns lettered and some members letter every collectible gun they purchase. Most of my letter requests were for non-standard S&Ws and it is rewarding to find out they were still as shipped.

If you are lettering a S&W, let Roy know as much information as you can determine by examining the gun. Also, send a few pictures, since it can help as well.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:44 PM
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Very good, thank you. Of course right after posting this, I found another thread that answered $50.00, and about 6 weeks.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:26 PM
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Requested letter on my HD, sent in on 10/20/12, received it on 12/28/12.
Not that bad with all the holidays.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:27 PM
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M24SWS, Gary has given you a very good answer. Factory letters on guns as old as yours may not reveal much because the records are not that good from back then...approximately Civil War. Apparently, Wild Bill Hickock carried a model 1 1/2, so sometimes it pays to letter these old guns. But, most of them go to a reseller.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:55 PM
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Also, you should know that there were two different guns that are known as the model 1 1/2. The first was a civil war period gun in .32 rim fire short, and the other was from the mid 1970's and is in caliber .32 S&W center fire. Both the guns and their cartridges were developed together by S&W. The civil war 1 1/2 will usually be more valuable than the later 1 1/2, in my observations.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:18 PM
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Good question for the OP - which Model 1 1/2 do you have? Actually, the Model 1 1/2 32 rimfire revolver was not available for the Civil War. This model became available in April, 1865, which was the month the war ended. It's big brother, the Model 2 32 rimfire was used during the war and was available in 1861. The Model 1 1/2 rimfire was designed to take the 32 Long cartridge, but could use either 32 Short or 32 Long ammunition.

The first picture is a Model 1 1/2 Centerfire and the bottom 8 revolvers in the second picture are various Model 1 1/2 Rimfires.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:22 PM
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:39 PM
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As stated, you would probably not be able to determine from the letter the original owner, only to whom it was shipped, which was usually a jobber or wholesaler. Its greatest value might be in affirming or disproving that is in the same condition as when it was shipped from the factory, i.e., grips, barrel length, and finish. And of course the shipping date. Whether that information is worth $50 is up to you to decide.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:55 AM
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Models 1 1/2, either rimfire or centerfire, will only letter to one of S&W distributors, in 99% of the cases. It was the factory's practice to ship guns only to their distributors, except for a very few VIP guns that were usually presentation pieces. Therefore, the only thing you will learn from most factory letters for those models is the distributors name, the configuration of the gun and the date the gun was shipped. It's well known that many famous western characters, Hickok, Cody, James brothers, the Earps & Doc Holiday, etc. owned S&Ws, however none of those revolvers lettered to any of them, only to a distributor. Ed.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:27 PM
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Thank you all again for your responses. My son will be around this weekend to help me move the accumulated pile of stuff (not at all "more junk" like someone else in my house seems to call it) currently blocking access to my gun safe. Then I can post pics of it. If memory serves though it is chromed / nickled, .32 rimfire, with yellowed grips (perhaps ivory?), and it does have rounded butt. I ordered and received a hand full of rimfire adapters that allow you to insert a primed empty. 22 short into a hole in the outer rim of the adapter cartridge. Then fill with blackpowder and seat a .32 (yes I know it's got a 3 digit diameter - I just can't remember it at this time) cast round ball in and link away. I don't want to start a debate over whether it'll pull the balls in the other chambers etc etc. It works, and it's fun to shoot it. Just have to clean attentively afterwards. I'll post the pics asap.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:20 PM
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what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter?  
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Cost: $50. Value of satisfying my curiosity: priceless.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:50 PM
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I have asked myself this question many time, but I can letter one of mine anytime I want. It is very rare that S&W shipped to an individual, but every once in awhile even I get shocked as to who the gun went to. The period from 1857 to 1869 the guns will generally be shipped through J. w. Storrs of New York City who was S&W's sole agent in that time frame. After S&W brought Storrs into to the Wesson Firearms Co, his Clerk M. W. Robinson became the S&W Main distributor for the factory and handle 95% of all sales up the mid-1880's. Robinson also handled many of the special orders such as engraving and ivory grips. During the 1880 the number of distributor grow. To me the a couple of the key Western Distributors over looked are Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Wards as a lot of Western place ordered by mail. To let you know there is more information on the older guns than on the modern guns. The stuff that is now on computer does not provide any details like the old records. If it was my choice I would stop researching them and wasting peoples money. As to the time delay, their is only me doing the letters. If S&W sends me out on the road or I take a vacation everything stops. It generally take 10 to 12 weeks to get answer unless I have been away then it will run to 16 weeks. That is my take on the letters. Roy
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:39 PM
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You'll never hear me complain.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:58 PM
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But then again, sometimes you get lucky..............

http://smith-wessonforum.com/blogs/p...ot-letter.html


On the antique side...sometimes a little more than meets the eye too............

Been a while...

How cool is this ...........

Springfield, MA. 1865


Yep....I'll keep lettering as long as Roy's still writing.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:06 PM
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what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter? what is value of vs cost of Factory Letter?  
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My last letter had some interesting information on my 1926 Safety Hammerless 38. Any time I handle it Now, I think of its history which helped explain its pristine condition.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:07 PM
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The cost of a Colt factory letter cost me quite a bit more than what I believe S&W asks. My grandfather was a longtime South Texas lawman. When he passed away in the mid 1960s his old Colt carry piece was passed down to my Uncle. My Uncle gave it to his best friend in order to keep it away from all of us grandchildren, which were at the time probably only safe with single shot .22 rifles under close supervision.

Several years back, the best friend passed away. His widow felt the the old revolver would be better appreciated by our family than theirs and gave the gun back to my uncle. My uncle called me and said... you understand guns and have a gun safe, come get this.

The value is priceless. Confirming that the engraving was factory probably added $5k to its cash value, but it will never be sold.

The attachments are my grandfather wearing the SAA while holding my uncle, circa 1925, the factory letter I received, and an overly reduced picture of the gun in question.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:03 PM
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In My opinion , the connection of the piece to history will always increase the value, But the connection is more important , 3 examples : I had my Victory lettered Came back as having been shipped to the US Navy , Norfork , VA right prior to the split in the ARMY/NAVY contract , SO I can say all day long it is a navy , even though no marks, Pretty Tuff to argue with that if I even intended to sell

#2 a friend picked up a really worn colt 25 pocket pistol ( hope I can say that here ) with really worn out bluing but no rust ect, He figured what the heck Paid the fee , Came back as sold and delivered one of 100 to the ERIE railroad in 1914 , Now it has some class , and an real point of interest and connection if he ever sells it

#3 Older neighbor had is grand fathers Lemon Squeeze , the family story was the grandfather had purchased it in MO, before he left to work in OK , He purchased it for his protection against the OUTLAWS The letter came back as shipped to a hardware store in the Family home town in MO , the same year the grandfather left for OK , Kind of puts a little more meaning to the family history , Maybe not to the pieces value but the the family history PRICELESS

The collector either someone just starting out or a HIGH ROLLER knows that that letter means alot now and in the years to come connecting the link to history

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:13 PM
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Here is a photo of the Charles Hummel store as it looked. Location is in what is now downtown San Antonio.

Charles Hummel & Sons Gun Store Photo - Kurt House
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwselke View Post
The cost of a Colt factory letter cost me quite a bit more than what I believe S&W asks. My grandfather was a longtime South Texas lawman. When he passed away in the mid 1960s his old Colt carry piece was passed down to my Uncle. My Uncle gave it to his best friend in order to keep it away from all of us grandchildren, which were at the time probably only safe with single shot .22 rifles under close supervision.

Several years back, the best friend passed away. His widow felt the the old revolver would be better appreciated by our family than theirs and gave the gun back to my uncle. My uncle called me and said... you understand guns and have a gun safe, come get this.

The value is priceless. Confirming that the engraving was factory probably added $5k to its cash value, but it will never be sold.

The attachments are my grandfather wearing the SAA while holding my uncle, circa 1925, the factory letter I received, and an overly reduced picture of the gun in question.
Your posting alone is spectacular, far as I'm concerned. Thanks for putting that up.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old TexMex View Post
Your posting alone is spectacular, far as I'm concerned. Thanks for putting that up.

Thanks TexMex, I was afraid I would be admonished for posting about a Colt outside of the Lounge.

I see you are from South Texas, so you'll know where when I say the picture of my grandfather was taken outside of the La Salle County Courthouse.

Holding that piece of family history in my hands sent chills through me. Getting the factory letter blew my mind. The unanswered question the family now has is, how did my grandfather get a gun like that. My theory is he used his mustering out pay after serving in France during WW-I. Another popular theory is that his wealthy older brother gave it to him.

I guess a lot of the value of a factory letter depends on what you are trying to confirm.

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Old 01-10-2013, 06:08 PM
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Default Lettering S&W Ladysmith Model M

I have a S&W Ladysmith Model M Handejector Model ladysmith, 3" barrel, all matching. Second change of 1906. SN 121XX. Produced 1906-1909. SNs 4576 - 13,950 = 9374 units.
Plating is pefect, no washed lettering.

I purchased it in Rhode Island perhaps 2 hour drive from Springfield. What could be gained by having the gun lettered?
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flagman1776 View Post
I have a S&W Ladysmith Model M Handejector Model ladysmith, 3" barrel, all matching. Second change of 1906. SN 121XX. Produced 1906-1909. SNs 4576 - 13,950 = 9374 units.
Plating is pefect, no washed lettering.

I purchased it in Rhode Island perhaps 2 hour drive from Springfield. What could be gained by having the gun lettered?
Satisfaction about what you own.
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Old 01-12-2013, 02:05 PM
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For folks like myself who collect and research S&W handguns with a Japanese Meiji Era connection, the factory letters are worth every penny they cost and the wait to receive them.

C/
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