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Old 07-14-2017, 08:59 AM
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George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum  
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Default George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum

On November 1, 1938 a new .357 Registered Magnum, Serial# 57091, Reg# 4215, was shipped from the Smith and Wesson factory to George W. Pratt at the Santa Fe Railroad Station in Wanette, Oklahoma. The revolver was shipped with a 5.5" barrel equipped with a Marble ivory bead front sight, medium U notch rear sight, blue finish, hump back hammer, and checkered walnut Magna grips. Prior to shipment it was sighted in as requested at 20 yards with .38 Special ammunition using a dead center hold, and it was billed to Mr. Pratt at the police price of $43.64.

George W. Pratt was born in Missouri on May 8, 1871. He made his livelihood in Missouri as a farmer. Sometime prior to 1920 he moved to Eason, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma where he continued to farm. In 1925 he landed a job working for the U. S. Postal Service as a Mail Messenger and Carrier in nearby Wanette, Oklahoma. Wanette is a very small town with a population of 350 (as of 2010.) During the territorial era Belle Star and Cole Younger were said to have frequented the area. The population of Wanette peaked in the 1920's/1930's near approximately 800 when cotton and the Wanette-Asher oil field supported the economy. Mr. Pratt continued to work as a Mail Messenger in Wanette through the 20's and 30's. Apparently Wanette was still a little on the wild side during this era, for on October 3, 1938 Mr. Pratt wrote a letter to Smith and Wesson stating that he needed a gun for protection of the U. S. Mail and asking for the lowest price on a new .357 Magnum. On October 5, 1938 Smith and Wesson offered Mr. Pratt the special police price of $43.64 and he subsequently placed his order for a new .357 Magnum on October 10, 1938. As stated above, the gun was shipped to him on November 1, 1938. Mr. Pratt continued to work as a Mail Messenger in Wanette until 1947 when he retired after some 22 years of service at the age of 76! (makes me feel a little guilty being retired at the age of 71). He lived on in retirement in Wanette until February 12, 1962.

Mr. Pratt's Registered Magnum was surely a prized possession and he must have carried it with great care. With the exception of several minor corrosion spots it remains in exceptional original condition, probably rating 97% considering the light pitting, and exactly as configured when it left the factory. I have been able to match it up with a nice and correct Type 2 medium size box including Caution sheet, Helpful Hints brochure, and green material and workmanship guarantee sheet. I have not been able to uncover any stories of where Mr. Pratt might have used his Magnum to protect the mail. The revolver never got far from Wanette as I purchased it just last month from a gun shop in Ada, Oklahoma which is about 30 miles from Wanette. (As a side note Ada is where the notorious "Killin Jim Miller" was hung by vigilantes in 1909).

I may shoot the gun a time or two - very carefully. I must say that the 5.5" barrel balances and points very naturally, and the ivory bead is very easy to acquire against a dark background.

Below are some pictures supporting the above story. Hope you enjoy.

































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Old 07-14-2017, 10:17 AM
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George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum  
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A beautiful revolver to be treasured, but you gotta put a few rounds through it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:17 AM
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Outstanding historical account and story of this individual and beautiful
RM to boot!
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:26 AM
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Great Magnum! I'd love to own that one. Something about the "odd" barrel lengths, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5" that are just cool to me. Enjoy!
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:32 AM
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Beautiful RM and Excellent history!
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:35 AM
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Going by your pictures the gun appears to be in like new condition. Wow! You are very fortunate to have acquired it and all that provenance makes it a virtual museum piece.

And like another poster said, you really should put a few rounds through it. Shoot a make believe bad guy (silhouette target) and imagine it's someone trying to steal the mail. (smile)

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Old 07-14-2017, 10:51 AM
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Wonder what kind of leather He used to tote that around town ......
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:51 AM
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The gun is a treasure, to be sure. And the Smith & Wesson historical documents are priceless. It is always fascinating to me to see the path a gun takes from someone simply wanting one, to corresponding with the factory, to final receipt of the gun, itself.

If the gun belonged to me, I'm not sure I'd shoot it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:00 AM
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Great story great revolver.
Does not look like he ever carried it in a holster.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:14 AM
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Great story. If it were me, I'd lay the RM on his stone and take a picture.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpage View Post
Wonder what kind of leather He used to tote that around town ......


I was wondering if maybe he carried it in his mail bag - or if he actually carried it at all. There is virtually no muzzle or high edge wear on the gun, only the several areas of light corrosion which I would attribute to poor storage at some point.


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Old 07-14-2017, 11:25 AM
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Great story. If it were me, I'd lay the RM on his stone and take a picture.


Now that's an interesting idea! If I ever get to Wanette with the Magnum I will do just that!


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Old 07-14-2017, 11:42 AM
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Road trip?????
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:27 PM
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Wow! What a gun and package!!
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:37 PM
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Thank you for sharing. What a great story you have for your particular piece!
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:06 PM
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Terry:

Another great package!!! You have a wonderful set of pre-war Magnums. Thanks for sharing them with the rest of us.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:12 PM
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Terry,

very nice RM! I saw it online and knew it wouldn't last long.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:23 PM
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Great gun and great piece of research. It is wonderful when you can come up with articles and photos. How did you do your research?

I have been told that there were not many 5.5" RMs. I, too. was fortunate to find one ordered by a Galveston, TX, police officer at about the same time.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
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Great gun and great piece of research. It is wonderful when you can come up with articles and photos. How did you do your research?

I have been told that there were not many 5.5" RMs. I, too. was fortunate to find one ordered by a Galveston, TX, police officer at about the same time.


Thanks Randy. Based on published numbers from Roy Jinks I guess approximately 140 5.5" RM's were manufactured, or about 2.5% of total production. The research on the gun itself started of course with the factory letter, then the documentation from the S and W Historical Foundation, and finally the information on Mr. Pratt came from Ancestry.com.


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Old 07-14-2017, 01:58 PM
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I'm one who will never own a Registered Mag.
I do like every aspect of how Mr. Pratt set his up.
Congratulations on acquiring it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:10 PM
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As great a shape as the gun is, I'll wager Mr. Pratt hung on to box, tools, certificate too. Wonder if that's lying around in OK somewhere. Hope you find it!
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
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I'm one who will never own a Registered Mag.

I do like every aspect of how Mr. Pratt set his up.

Congratulations on acquiring it.


Paul,

Interesting that you said that. Yes, it appears from the factory order sheet that Mr. Pratt knew exactly what he wanted and made sure that he specified it. In fact I have wondered if perhaps he may have been a gun enthusiast that highly desired owning a Magnum and shrewdly used his employment as a vehicle to get the police discount. Based on the condition of the gun I'm not sure he ever really carried it around much.


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Old 07-14-2017, 02:30 PM
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Yes it sounds like he knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it.

Ivory bead guns are fun to shoot.




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Old 07-14-2017, 04:08 PM
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That is a very nice revolver and the associated documents and story are really neat, thanks for showing us.
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:14 PM
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What a beautiful RM, congrats, and a great history! Hopefully one day the stars will align and I'll come across one of these at a price that's in my budget. Until then I'll just have to enjoy pictures of others RM's like yours. I had to laugh a little when you said it made you feel a little guilty that your retired at 71, because I retired in 2012 at 49 years old. But as a firefighter with 31 years of service, it's the type job that you get out while your still healthy. But a small lawncare company keeps me busy. You got a nice one there!
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:38 PM
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Very nice. It's great to see the documentation and not have to wish that the gun could 'talk' to know some of it's history.

The other thing about this I am amazed by is the fast turn around time on the mail. His letter is dated 10/03/38 in Okla. and it's in S&W hands in Mass.2 days later. I can't get a letter to mom in Indiana in 3 days today. I wonder if his connection with the U.S. Mail helped?
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Old 07-14-2017, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
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Very nice. It's great to see the documentation and not have to wish that the gun could 'talk' to know some of it's history.



The other thing about this I am amazed by is the fast turn around time on the mail. His letter is dated 10/03/38 in Okla. and it's in S&W hands in Mass.2 days later. I can't get a letter to mom in Indiana in 3 days today. I wonder if his connection with the U.S. Mail helped?


Dan,

I noticed those expeditious mail delivery times also. You have to use Priority Mail to get anything close to that kind of service today. Wanette did have the Santa Fe Railroad depot so with his job he apparently was able to pick up and post his personal mail directly at the depot. I was also wondering if perhaps he had an office right in the depot where he was able to type his personal letters and order - on his own time of course. George Wesley Pratt's 5.5 Inch Registered Magnum


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Old 07-14-2017, 05:49 PM
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Amazing story, and a beautiful revolver!

Granted the letters were written in the pre-war era, but did anyone note that Mr Pratt's letter of inquiry was dated Oct 3rd, and S&W's response was dated Oct 5th? That letter,made it from Oklahoma to a clerk's desk in UNDER 2 days! Today we can be lucky if first class mail can make it from coast to coast in under a week!
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:36 PM
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For a rural mailman to be willing to pay up for a RM, is quite something.If another mailman even felt the need to carry, I'd think that 99.999% would have been satisfied with a M+P, and probably a used one at that. I think that he was bitten by the magnum bug,and just used his job to get the best possible price.The gun doesn't look like it had a lot of carry time.
My grandfather,who I'm sure carried more cash,his own cash,not that of postal patrons, during the same period,as a landlord for a hundred properties in a suburban Philly, was fine with a used Iver Johnson.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by lestert357 View Post
... it appears from the factory order sheet that Mr. Pratt knew exactly what he wanted and made sure that he specified it. In fact I have wondered if perhaps he may have been a gun enthusiast that highly desired owning a Magnum and shrewdly used his employment as a vehicle to get the police discount. Based on the condition of the gun I'm not sure he ever really carried it around much.
Definitely a firearms enthusiast - and he picked the best offered at the time. Notice that he also wanted a "circular" on the Magnum... and probably a collector as well.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:23 PM
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What a wonderful RM
Hoping one day i might own one and that would be the one I would want.
I like the little options on a gun that sets it apart from most. Gives it a bit more character.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:27 PM
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As great a shape as the gun is, I'll wager Mr. Pratt hung on to box, tools, certificate too. Wonder if that's lying around in OK somewhere. Hope you find it!
I'm actually making an attempt to do this through the seller, and I believe he will make an honest attempt to help me, but realistically I don't have much hope.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:20 PM
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What's just as amazing to me is...He sent a letter to S&W from Oklahoma and it arrived in 2 days!!!!!!!!! Try that today.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:06 PM
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Good find, and great research! We've all heard the adage of "buy the gun, not the story", but your work just proves the authenticity of both the gun AND the story! Mr. Pratt would be glad to know that someone who appreciates it now has it!
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:07 PM
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Congratulations on a terrific find! The associated paperwork just makes it that much better. Thanks for sharing it with us.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:23 AM
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That mail man new his firearms and ordered what I would consider the ultimate carry gun of his day .Wow a 357 reg mag with the provenance you have but I would have to carry it and shoot it that is why I don't try to collect .It is evident that you put in considerable time researching the history of that firearm thank you for shareing your work is appreciated by us who long to be collectors but alas do not have the self control to just look at such a firearm . If you decide to shoot it I encourage you to please post a range report .Again thanks .
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Old 07-15-2017, 08:56 AM
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Just saw this today. Lestert357, you still win the internet today. Awesome story, great pics. Cool way to start off my day. Thanks!
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:05 AM
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If you decide to shoot it I encourage you to please post a range report .Again thanks .

I will probably take it to the range at least one time. At first glance it looks like a strong 98% gun, and it feels like a new gun when you handle it, but I would imagine the several light pitting spots knocks it down to 97%. I have taken my 97% 8.75" RM and my 98+% 6" RM to the range 1 time each, and 50+ rounds and a good cleaning later they both look exactly like they did beforehand. So I will get this one out to the range one of these days and I promise a range report afterwards.

Thanks to everyone for all of the kind and thoughtful comments.



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Old 07-15-2017, 09:14 PM
Walter Rego Walter Rego is offline
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I would wager that Mr. Pratt was a pistolero and one who would not have been satisfied with just any service revolver that he could have bought at his local hardware store right off the shelf. The barrel length, humpback hammer and ivory bead front sight all say something about his interest and knowledge of guns. Notwithstanding his choice of an RM, a luxury item for someone on a postman's salary.
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:35 PM
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I love a good, complete, start-to-finish story like this.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:13 PM
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Fact: the gun has already been fired. There is no such thing as an unfired S&W. The only reason not to fire it is you don't want to clean it after the fact. Get yourself some 158 gn jacketed factory ammo and have some fun. Twenty rounds will put about zero ware on the gun and will put a smile on your face forever. Clean it and put it away for the next time.

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Old 07-16-2017, 01:19 AM
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Thank you for sharing such a great story!

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