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Old 09-10-2017, 09:51 PM
richardbrentm richardbrentm is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Default Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?

I just aquired a minty kit 22/32 in blue with a 2" barrel with the original serial #'d S&W box. I know I am the 3rd owner, the second aquiring it in 1963 from the original purchase. My question is a factory letter needed with a gun that has it's provenance. Any comments?

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Old 09-10-2017, 09:55 PM
richardbrentm richardbrentm is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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I know it was made after 1955 (Ser# 322xx). One question, the serial number is on the butt, but there are numbers on the crane. Any ideas?)

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:04 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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The numbers about which you are asking are various inspector/fitting type marks, reflecting who did what in the manufacturing process. Factory letter: it depends on what your purpose is. If you have any serious collector goals, including establishing a valid value for future sale or some such purpose, I am sure that everyone here who has a clue about such will tell you a letter is needed. I am not one of those people - not a collector, not interested in such data as it has no importance to me.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:07 PM
richardbrentm richardbrentm is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Here is a picture of the numbers

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:13 PM
kmyers kmyers is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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The one letter put up in a thread today was we were just curious to see what background there might be with it. Another one we have thought about lettering and might do at some time is this one.



Not exactly a Smith I have seen many of. We have the box and everything that came with it, but until the 4th edition of the Standard Catalog of Smith Wesson came out I could not find the serial number listed anywhere in earlier editions or online and could not find the product code either so it might be an interesting one to get some background on at some point.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:17 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Those are assembly numbers.

A letter will tell you to whom the revolver shipped and the date it shipped. Often, it will be a wholesaler or hardware store.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:33 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Its the one out of a hundred (or thousand) that says the gun was shipped to Elvis, or mickey mantle, or ....

On a pretty common gun, I don't bother.

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:49 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardbrentm View Post
I just aquired a minty kit 22/32 in blue with a 2" barrel with the original serial #'d S&W box. I know I am the 3rd owner, the second aquiring it in 1963 from the original purchase. My question is a factory letter needed with a gun that has it's provenance. Any comments?
Well, a box...even with label...isn't really "provenance". Neither is someone saying they're the first or second owner...even if you know it's true.

Put simply, if you want to begin establishing true provenance and potential value, yes, you want to letter it...if for no other reason than to satisfy your own curiousity about the gun.

This is just my opinion, you understand.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:55 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Having a boxed gun is great but not definitive. If it's something special of a gun a letter only helps confirm it. As everyone knows a lot of fakery going on with boxes and labels these days. Just look on EBAY. If it's a standard model with a age correct box and what appears to be a legit label a letter may not be worth the extra expense. It really boils down to what you have or think you have and what you may need to verify it.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:34 PM
richardbrentm richardbrentm is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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The nice thing about forum's is that they are designed for opinions. I know what this gun is and that everything is "right" with the pistol, the accessories and the box as it has gone from personal friend to personal friend. My thinking about a factory letter is just it might aid in its sale if my heirs don't know what to do with my guns. I have a factory letter for an old 1st gen colt SAA I own and it is so general in terminology I don't think it educates for the price I paid. I think my 22/32 is a very desirable little gun and I think a collector would know exactly what I have and what it is worth.

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Old 09-11-2017, 12:18 AM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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You need to see some of the letters that are posted on the forum. They are pretty specific in the last paragraph.

If you know the lineage of the weapon then no you may not "need" the letter.

My 1947 K-22 has had two owners; my Dad and me but I may still get the letter someday just to see where my Dad bought the gun from. The original box does not give that detail and I really can't prove it is the original box as back then they had no labels on them.

But I don't need to prove it to anyone as it is never getting sold.
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:55 AM
richardbrentm richardbrentm is offline
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targets Guy View Post
You need to see some of the letters that are posted on the forum. They are pretty specific in the last paragraph.

If you know the lineage of the weapon then no you may not "need" the letter.

My 1947 K-22 has had two owners; my Dad and me but I may still get the letter someday just to see where my Dad bought the gun from. The original box does not give that detail and I really can't prove it is the original box as back then they had no labels on them.

But I don't need to prove it to anyone as it is never getting sold.
Mine neither, until I'm dead!!! My son likes modern poly/black finish and laughs about my "safe queens"


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Old 09-11-2017, 03:43 AM
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Nice "Model of 1953 22/32 Kit Gun" built on the NEW I frame. It was at this time that the 2" barrel option was introduced. The 22/32 new I frame was discontinued and reintroduced on the J frame in Oct 1960.

Here's an example of what a letter for another one, the same vintage as yours, includes in a factory letter:




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Old 09-11-2017, 07:54 AM
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Hello Forum;

For me whether to Letter or not really depends on what I want to know. Sometimes it is simple curiosity, other times I am really interested in tracking down details, which the Letter gives a valid starting point and the rest is up to you and Mr. Google. As they say......buy the gun....not the story.

An example for me is my Model 36 no dash. Not any kind of rarity, but came to me in a different way with a different "story" and with accessories that made me wonder..so I will eventually Letter this gun just to find out (like Richard said...I'm sure this one went to Elvis....Why?.....cause he told me so when I saw him yesterday!).

Anyway, 1965 or so Model 36, no real wear and tear, original box, documents, vapor paper, and a Smith & Wesson black leather duty holster supposedly made at Smith's Lillington North Carolina factory. "Story" said cop issue all the way, but how many cops put the piece away in its box with paperwork and let er sit for 52 years.

So.....couple things don't look right to me. Holster shows just enough wear that someone had it on a belt, with a gun in it long enough to shine the protruding surfaces (cylinder, thumb break) but the gun muzzle has zero bluing loss). The Banjor Punta box is not a fake but the label is on upside down which may not be a biggy but enough so that I am curious.

Bottom line? I'll get it lettered and start the investigation trail, which is most of the fun I get out of this hobby, other than pure delight in shooting of course.

BTW: If the seller had a Letter on this gun, I would have probably paid his asking price because I know him and he really didn't have the need to move it out of his safe, but because of the questions (to my mind anyway) I got this rig for a real decent price and of course I am hoping that the Letter supports the sellers claim....then I go looking for the Chief or his descendants and maybe some gun history.

Enjoy your gun no matter whether you Letter or not...it is the chase that keeps me coming back for more!
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:11 AM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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Here I am with a bit of a contrarian reply to the OP's question.

I have paid my money for three letters so right away you can consider my opinion based on limited personal experience. We've all seen scores of letters posted on this site, and a few have offered interesting tidbits about a particular revolver. I found the generic information in the three-page letters about Model 547s to be the most interesting of all I've read.

I asked specific questions about each of the three revolvers I "lettered," and I sent lots of photos. Each letter came back with details similar to those shown in the letter Hondo44 posted. None addressed the questions I had asked, and I don't believe the letter added its cost to the value of each revolver. To me the letters are gee-whiz eye candy.

Perhaps the information I wanted to know simply wasn't available in the company records (for example, "Did my 1956 .32 HE ship from the factory with a target trigger?"), but the letter didn't say one way or the other.

I have a few other revolvers (like the oddity in the photo) I'm curious about, and I might well ask (pay) for a letter about them. I won't hold my breath waiting for earth-shattering news, though.

For all my curiosity I could save up those $75 fees and buy another neat, old revolver I'd simply remain curious about. I believe I'd be the happier with another revolver than another piece of paper.

At some point in the future -- hopefully the far distant future -- my daughter can figure out what to do. My detailed records will tell her the price I paid, offer as much provenance as I can muster and suggest a reasonable resale value (adjusted annually) so you shouldn't see one of those "I inherited these guns, and can you tell me what they're worth?" threads at that time.

The company has made hundreds of thousands of revolvers. I believe a letter on a small percentage of those might offer some compelling details that justify the price of the letter. It's a gamble, and I'm not much of a chance taker.

One guy's opinion, and its certainly not intended to pour a cold glass of water on the process or its results.

Slŗinte,

Bob
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Old 09-11-2017, 11:48 AM
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I think two-bit cowboy nailed it. A letter is somewhat generic about the model history, rarely answers any particular questions, may tell you what hardware store it was sent to from the factory and date of shipment. Not worth the $$ in my opinion unless there is suspicion of something really special verses the millions of guns S&W has made.
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:06 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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I might letter a registered magnum, or an engraved gun.
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:52 PM
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I have little desire to letter a post war gun unless it has some distinguishing features such as an odd barrel length, etc. But when it comes to pre war guns, especially earlier pre war ones, I'm more tempted to letter one. I have this fear I'll sell one to purchase another I want more and the one I sold ends up lettering to D.B. Wesson or someone else of gun fame. I have a 3rd model 44 Special that was found stored away in a Fort Worth, Tx storage locker since around 1974. I'm pretty confident it'll letter to W&K since the folks who found it also found family letters that the family had been in Texas many years and the grandfather or great grandfather fought in the Indian wars. But deep down I think it still needs a letter. You just never know.

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Originally Posted by cmansguns View Post
The Banjor Punta box is not a fake but the label is on upside down which may not be a biggy but enough so that I am curious.
From what I've read on the forum the label is correct if it is readable with the box lying on its lid. The guns were stacked in their boxes with the lid side down. That way if the box was grabbed out of the S&W safe or dealers shelf the gun and bottom of box wouldn't drop out of your hand and onto the floor.
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Old 09-11-2017, 03:10 PM
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My opinion is similar to others, I only letter pieces that I am curious about and for no other reason. If the information that you have is enough to satisfy your curiosity, fine. If you are leaving everything behind for your son who has no real interest in what you are leaving, fine. Satisfy yourself, in the end it doesn't seem to matter.
If on the other hand you want to make it a little easier for your heirs to more easily get top dollar for what you are leaving behind then a letter surely can't hurt. When I am looking at a purchase of a "collectible" piece a letter works towards the positive if the price is right. A letter will cost you $75 today and to its credit will certainly increase the value of the piece accordingly, in much the same way as matching stocks will and for that matter a matching box, which is really nothing more than the box that it was possibly shipped in.
Without a direct provenance of proof everything is just speculation, curators can pick apart what might be considered a rock solid provenance, right down to whether or not the signature is fake or factual.
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Old 09-11-2017, 03:35 PM
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I guess we need to be careful about what we say here. I got some hate mail from Don/Club Gun Fan because a while ago I advised a poster here not to bother getting a letter. Don works with/helps Roy so he has kind of a vested interest in seeing more letters ordered.

I have no such loyalty to that cause and feel a poster here needs to hear it the way I see things. If the gun you're asking about is a modern gun of fairly high production and in the usual configuration, its a waste of your money. The guns that need a letter are the ones with an unusual feature that would benefit from the letter. Older guns could be shipped to individuals or police departments or famous folks, like maybe John Dillinger or whoever. I tossed that name in because hero's aren't the only names that could turn up.

The other possibility is that you'll get the "null" letter. One that says your gun is open on company books. As much as we like our guns, the company didn't always keep the best of records. When you pays your hard earned cash and then learn nothing, it kind of sours you to the gamble you took. Its like a lotto ticket except you don't have the chance of winning millions. For the folks who spend like there's no tomorrow, go ahead.

Some of the bigger resellers letter their guns as a matter of course. Or at least most of them. When they charge big bucks for a gun, they expect it to come back correct. Any less reflects on their reputation. Sometimes you even get a gun that you can be pretty sure won't letter. In that case, it just doesn't make sense to toss out the money. And example of that is my prewar K32. Its what I would call "in the rough". I would guess it started life as a K22. got the firing pin hole welded up and a standard hammer installed, along with a 32 caliber barrel and cylinder. There's no chance in hell its right. David Carroll even asked Roy about it. He said its on a page of K22s with no shipping information on any of them. I don't need a $75 letter to tell me its a lunchbox gun. Its best feature other than the caliber is the barrel that hasn't been finished. To all appearances, its still a rough forging. Except its been installed pretty well, roll marks are deep and great.
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Old 09-11-2017, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmansguns View Post

The Banjor Punta box is not a fake but the label is on upside down which may not be a biggy but enough so that I am curious.
At some point around the end of the 1950s - early 1960s all labels were upside down so when the box was open with bottom half nested in the top half, the label was right side up for displaying the gun by the retailer.
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Old 09-11-2017, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
The guns that need a letter are the ones with an unusual feature that would benefit from the letter. Older guns could be shipped to individuals or police departments or famous folks, like maybe John Dillinger or whoever. I tossed that name in because hero's aren't the only names that could turn up.
This.

I love the history of older guns and sometimes you get lucky. My big winner was a 1947 .44 HE that was one of 50 shipped to the Washington State Patrol.

The rest have been mostly Joe Blows Hardware Store.

It's kind of a Christmas morning feel when that letter comes in. You get to unwrap it (open it) and see what you get.
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Old 09-11-2017, 08:45 PM
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"-----------is a factory letter needed with a gun that has its provenance?"

An entirely reasonable question----what provenance?

I bought a gun awhile back---a 22/40---bought it because it was better than the one I had at home. Given the fact I letter every gun I own, I sent off for another one.

There are three different kinds of letters-----------------

Plain Vanilla----the gun was shipped on such and such date to such and such distributor. Nice to know---no big deal. I have a bunch of these---I consider them as frosting on the cake, and let it go at that.

Special------same as Plain Vanilla, plus some goodies that you're not going to find in any book anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances---usually nothing earth shaking---just interesting stuff that the Historian knew, found interesting, and decided to pass it on. I found it interesting too. In addition, those guns which letter as shipped to individuals----competitive shooters, law enforcement officers, and just plain folks. I have a fair number of these too. Gives you something to do on cold winter evenings---try to track them down---learn something about them.

WOW-----I only have one of these. Most folks don't have any. This is on that 22/40. It goes like this: "--------your handgun, with serial number 682435 was shipped from our factory on March 21, 1940, and delivered to Mr. Philip B. Sharpe, South Portland, ME.-----------This revolver was shipped on an advertising account at no charge to Mr. Sharpe." The last line sums it up: "This is a very important revolver." They shipped another "very important revolver" to him too------Registered Magnum #2. This tale has a sad epilogue: The fellow I bought it from owned it for ten years-----and never lettered it.

So, once again------what provenance? The answer is you don't know until you ask.

Ralph Tremaine

I have a few Extra Special letters too----wish I didn't---but the breaks of the game. I have a .32 caliber 1st Model Single Shot----a fairly rare gun. It letters as a 1st Model .22 Single Shot---not so rare---scarce maybe. I have a 6" 2nd Model Single Shot----likely more rare than the .32 1st (because of the barrel length)---they can't confirm the barrel length. I have a New Model #3 Target-----one of those made ONLY in 32/44 S&W or 38/44 S&W. (You can confirm that in any book of your choosing.). Mine's chambered for "38 WINCHESTER CTG" (38-40 Winchester)----they can't confirm the caliber. They did note maybe the next best thing, said it "----appears to be a special order for a single unit." Sometime you eat the bear---sometimes the bear eats you.

Last edited by rct269; 09-11-2017 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:17 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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So.....couple things don't look right to me. The Banjor Punta box is not a fake but the label is on upside down which may not be a biggy but enough so that I am curious.
The upside down label is normal. It's upside down on the box for my Model 28-2 of 1973.

I remembered reading an explanation for this practice somewhere on this forum...and to quote Lee Jarrett from a post made here on November 24, 2011, here's the reason:

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Originally Posted by handejector View Post
Normal.
When pulled from a stack in the factory vault by grasping the sides of the box, the bottom tray and the gun were sometimes dropped, damaging the gun.

With the label inverted and grasping the sides, if you drop it, it hits the floor in a complete box.
Amazing, isn't it...the things you learn by hanging out on this forum?
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:19 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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I just aquired a minty kit 22/32 in blue with a 2" barrel with the original serial #'d S&W box. I know I am the 3rd owner, the second aquiring it in 1963 from the original purchase. My question is a factory letter needed with a gun that has it's provenance. Any comments?
At this point, your gun has no provenance. That is, it has no verified documentation other than the box, just word of mouth stories. Ever hear the expression, "Buy the gun, not the story"? The fact that you claim to know the previous owners means nothing to anyone else. Now if you got notarized statements from those previous persons detailing the guns history, you might then claim to have provenance.

A letter of authenticity from the S&WHF is provenance that is universally recognized. Smith & Wesson Historical Foundation - Letter Process - Insuring that the rich history of Smith & Wesson will continue for generations to come It will typically provide the original configuration of the gun, its ship date and to whom it was shipped (usually a wholesaler, for a modern gun).

I'm not trying to be mean or dismissive, just telling you how it works. Undocumented stories likely will not affect resale value versus no story at all, whereas documentation might.

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Originally Posted by rct269 View Post
"-----------is a factory letter needed with a gun that has its provenance?"
....

There are three different kinds of letters-----------------

Plain Vanilla....

Special....

WOW-----I only have one of these. Most folks don't have any. ....

So, once again------what provenance? The answer is you don't know until you ask.
I have one of those WOW letters, not so much as who it shipped to as its confirmed configuration.

Commercial 1917 Target - letter confirmed, post #13 - SWHF docs, post #15





One of only 5 (or maybe as many as 10) factory built target 1917s! As I mentioned above, "Buy the gun, not the story." The story in the original ad for this gun was that it was a King target conversion.

Last edited by Tom K; 09-11-2017 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:48 PM
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Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box? Is there a reason to get a factory letter if you have the original box?  
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I have little desire to letter a post war gun unless it has some distinguishing features such as an odd barrel length, etc. But when it comes to pre war guns, especially earlier pre war ones, I'm more tempted to letter one. I have this fear I'll sell one to purchase another I want more and the one I sold ends up lettering to D.B. Wesson or someone else of gun fame.
Now, that makes a lot of sense to me. My interests abound in postwar revolvers so your take on them perfectly fits my earlier thesis. I have one prewar revolver (1939) and a lettered Victory Model, everything else is postwar so my personal habit leads to my opinion on lettering. Thanks for expanding my horizons on the value of prewar letters.

Bob
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