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Old 01-15-2013, 08:18 PM
Bohonkie Bohonkie is offline
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Default Serial Numbers vs Assy Numbers

I've been reading a lot of posts to find the answers to a couple of things I've always wondered. Newer revolvers show the serial number on the frame where the (yoke, is it?) closes. Does anyone know when they began this practice (as opposed to what I write below)?
The hand ejectors I have show serial numbers on the bottom of the butt frame, the inside/rear edge of the cylinder, and underneath the barrel (with cylinder opened). I understand the number inside the frame at the yoke spot on these revolvers is an assembly number (where serial numbers are today). What is an assembly number? Does anyone understand what they represent (what is the code?) or are the factory numbers assigned more or less randomly?
I just picked up a nice hand ejector, model 1905, in 32-20 CTG (on bbl). Ser nr is 111873. Assy nr is 66270. Penciled inside the removed stock is 1873.
How are you guys determining year of manufacture? I'm guessing this one is a fourth change, from the late '20s.What do you think?
Thanks, in advance, for the education!
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:28 PM
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My understanding is serial numbers were stamped on the frame under the barrel when Target stocks became standard, so the stocks would not have to be removed to see the number on the bottom of the grip frame. Later many guns with standard stocks had the SN stamped there too.

Perhaps there were internal records of assembly numbers, but I am unaware of any significance beyond the fact that older revolvers were "soft fitted" (metal and wood assembled prior to finishing, etc.) and had to be reassembled afterward. Numbering the stocks and metal parts made sure the fitted parts went back together.

There is a book with serial number ranges in it (among lots of other great info):

Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson: Jim Supica, Richard Nahas: 9780896892934: Amazon.com: Books

The information on this model is incomplete, but your late '20s guess is a good one. Others keep databases on known SN and ship dates and may get you more specific than this. Hope this is helpful.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohonkie View Post
I just picked up a nice hand ejector, model 1905, in 32-20 CTG (on bbl). Ser nr is 111873.
Your .32-20 Hand Ejector would, as you said, have the fourth engineering changes which started showing up around 1915. The cartridge designation on your gun indicates assembly after 1922. Prior to that time (1914-1922), it would have said, 32 W.C.F. CTG.
The .32-20 HE was made from c. 1899 until sometime around 1933 or 1934, at which time production ceased forever, even though the gun remained in the catalog until about 1940. Some were almost certainly still in the vault after WWII and shipped later.
The serial number range on these ran from 1 to over 144,000. So yours probably does date from the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Production numbers by year are not available. Shipping could be any time after about 1930. Only a factory letter will tell you for sure. I know of one in the 140,000 range that shipped in 1934.
I hope this helps.
Alan gave you a good explanation of the assembly number matter, so I won't add anything to that.
Jack
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:26 PM
Bohonkie Bohonkie is offline
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Thanks, all!
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