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Old 08-05-2018, 05:15 PM
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Default Rescued a scratched up old Chiefís Special from the LGS today

Went for a range session to get a little practice in and try out a couple new acquisitions and saw this little beauty in the case. Tag on it said $459.99 and I offered $400 and it followed me home. Other than the hideous grips on it, itís in great shape. Iíve always wanted a fancy engraved vintage revolver and the gods of provenance seemed to be smiling on me today. S/N is 58xxx, so that puts it about 1955. It was owned by a gentleman by the name of Melville D. Bailey according to the name engraved on the bottom of the trigger guard. I googled the name, hoping he was a police officer, but nothing came up. The faux pearl grips are Fitz Ten-O-Grips(no, not THAT Fitz). I couldnít find much on them other than they were popular back in the 50ís and 60ís before Herretts and Altamonts came along. I think I did pretty good!
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  #2  
Old 08-05-2018, 05:21 PM
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Default More pics

Some more photos
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:50 PM
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If you close your eyes how do those grips feel?
Actually, I'm jealous. I could see changing my name to match the gun.

Last edited by max503; 08-05-2018 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:02 PM
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What a snag! Great little gun to add to the corral. Puttin grips on that little girl would be like puttin a trench coat on M. Monroe!
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:05 PM
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Awesome find.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:35 PM
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That is definitely in the "not too shabby" category.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:47 PM
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What a great find!
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:59 PM
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You did very well ! (but those Fitz Ten-Os, have to go ... fast !)

The format of the engraving seems to leave just the perfect amount of space for a set of factory magna stocks. Search for a pristine set of factory stocks with the diamond shape around the grip screw escutcheons.
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:59 PM
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Nice snag!
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:05 PM
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Awesome treasure.
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:11 PM
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I think you just paid the tax. Go back tomorrow and pay for gun.
Great find and a great price!
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:20 PM
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You lucked out, go buy a lottery ticket. Nice find.
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:31 PM
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If I owned that revolver, I'd have to know who Melville D. Bailey was! How did the store come about owning the gun? Maybe they can help?
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:34 PM
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I have to admit, Iím not much up on engraved Smiths. Is there a way to tell if it is factory engraving, short of a letter? Did the factory engravers have a certain spot where they initialed their work? Could the name engraved on the trigger guard be the engravers signature? I just assumed the owner had his name engraved on it. And lastly, would it make sense to spend the money for a factory letter?
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:34 PM
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Beautiful - and yes at that price, you stole it. Congrats,
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:36 PM
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well that was a great find...i would put a set of Craig Spegel grips on it...would be perfect on it....very well done...God Bless,John
i would also want to research that name...try ancestry.com
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:38 PM
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I think the best part of gun buying, for me anyway at this stage of my life, is rescuing guns such as yours and giving them a new home and a new lease on life, so to speak. Well done on your acquisition!
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlawler View Post
And lastly, would it make sense to spend the money for a factory letter?

Considering that you STOLE the gun, YES!!!!!
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:00 PM
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Impossible to walk away from that deal.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:00 PM
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Those grips are so ugly I didn't even realize the gun was engraved till the 4th picture!
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlawler View Post
Some more photos
Very, VERY, nice ! Install a pristine set of factory wood stocks and you've got a peach !
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:05 PM
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Melville D Bailey born about 1900

In 1940 lived at:
7694 South Ada Street
Chicago,
Cook, Illinois
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:05 PM
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Default Great Little Chief

The scraching, as you called it, is well done and I'm glad the grips were not a deal breaker. The "DO NOT DRY FIRE" on the tag really caught my attention, my compliments to you, tlawler.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jringo8769 View Post
well that was a great find...i would put a set of Craig Spegel grips on it...would be perfect on it....very well done...God Bless,John
i would also want to research that name...try ancestry.com
Great idea on the ancestry.com...I found a Melville D. Bailey in the 1940 census who was 40 years old at the time and resided
in Illinois. Other documents show his date of death as 1966, so that might be him. I havenít been on the site since my wife and I did our DNA last year, so Iím not that good at navigating it and only paid for the testing so far, not full use of the site.

Edit: Loyaljeeper found the information on Mr. Bailey before I did. Thanks LJ
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:13 PM
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Great buy! I really like the engraving, and the condition is very nice, and the grips, ... well 2 outta three ain't bad! Congrats! I would have bought that one in a hot second!
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:21 PM
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Definitely research the owner. I bought a nice leather attache case in a second hand store. Found enough to ID the owner and found his obituary on the internet. He was a medical equipment salesman, a pillar of his community and a church council member. Find out what your predecessor was like!
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by model3sw View Post
You did very well ! (but those Fitz Ten-Os, have to go ... fast !)

The format of the engraving seems to leave just the perfect amount of space for a set of factory magna stocks. Search for a pristine set of factory stocks with the diamond shape around the grip screw escutcheons.
My sediments exactly! I'd find myself a high condition set of diamond magnas and add an original Tyler T-grip and a finely tooled leather shoulder holster. Concealed carry at a barbecue! SUH-WEEEET!

Froggie
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:49 PM
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So the guy looking at it before you dry fired it and they lowered the price?
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:53 PM
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I think you did real good. That's a little beauty, thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:59 PM
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Looking back in on this again! Wow! I would have grabbed this in a heartbeat!
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Old 08-05-2018, 09:04 PM
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What a great find !! The engraving and grips aside, it is officially described as the ".38 Chiefs Special Early J Frame Model of 1953 ". Characteristics include the earlier Baby J hammer, 4 screw sideplate ( no trigger guard screw), the then new trigger guard shape, and the serrated ramp front sight. I have a 59XXX sn, and your 1954/1955 date is correct. That engraving on your early Chief is exquisite.
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Old 08-05-2018, 10:39 PM
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Neat gun!

Now you are gonna have to take some of the money that you saved on the Chiefs purchase and buy this new book:

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Old 08-05-2018, 10:48 PM
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The older I get, the more I like engraving.

That is a great gun. But yeah, those stocks are awful. LOL. Now having said that, they look like they could be comfy while shooting. Sometimes awful looking has reasons..... I could be wrong though. They might look bad and feel bad too.

Last edited by ABPOS; 08-05-2018 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:05 PM
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I would have walked away with that one for sure had I found it. Nice buy. I would say a letter is definitely worth it.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:32 PM
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Wow. I'd have happily paid $459 for that.
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:02 AM
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Handsome, professionally executed engraving. Desirable gun in very fine condition, Great price, you did very well!
Letter it, maybe factory work and inscription?
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:39 AM
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I'm not much of a fan of engraved pistols, but for the price you paid, I too would have snapped it up!
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:57 AM
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There's a Melville Bailey that's mayor of Hawkins County, TN. Might be a son or nephew. Hawkins County is just up the road from Knoxville on the border with Virginia.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:45 AM
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I have no engraved guns. If I found one like that for that price I would have an engraved gun for sure. Sweet gun and sweet deal
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:13 AM
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Very Nice Find!

The name looks to be an engraved copy of the signiture of Mr Bailey,,not just a random lettering style.

When done like that as an image of the persons true signiture, it can be very helpful when digging for information on the individual.
Old records, licenses, ect often have a signiture on them and can be compared with the engraved facsimile.

The engraver when tasked with doing a persons signiture usually puts extra effort into 'getting it correct'. So it's usually very close or spot on to a pen on paper signiture.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:43 AM
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Nice snag OP! If I were to of seen that gun for that price I would have snatched it up in a heartbeat. In regards to your factory engraving question, only a factory letter will tell. But, at first glance it looks like it could be factory since the coverage looks good but not overdone, the trademark is under the cylinder release, and the engraving looks like it would perfectly accent the original smooth magnas that probably came on it. Factory or not, I would love to have it in my collection. Keep us posted when the letter comes back!

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Old 08-06-2018, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmborkovic View Post
Puttin grips on that little girl would be like puttin a trench coat on M. Monroe!

She managed to make even that look good...
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:45 PM
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Default Much better!

I took a set of diamond magnas off another Chiefs and put them on the engraved Chiefs. Very much an improvement! Looking closer, I noticed what looks like initials inside a maple leaf on the front strap. Does it look like the initials of a known S&W factory engraver?
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:40 PM
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Ahhhhh, much better!
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:03 AM
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Wow, that's a dandy.

I would have broken something getting my billfold out for that one.

Congrats.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:50 AM
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SWEET gun... HIDEOUS grips.

Those period correct diamond magnas are just the ticket. Other nice alternatives would be a set of Sambar Stags, or (if you're really well-heeled) a set of ivories with medallions.

I'm not real crazy about engraving, but THAT one is VERY tastefully done.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:13 AM
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If the Chicago is accurate you might check the name with the Chicago Police Museum, if they still have one.
I tried Google it was inconclusive.
Geoff
Who notes it looks like a Retirement Presentation Piece.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:52 AM
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Nice find! Can’t imagine those grips will stay long
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:01 AM
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At the risk of repetition , I am not much for engraving , but I too would have left the store with that Chief.

Fitz grips tend to be very functional , but those are awful to the eye. In my opinion , something in a non-stock wooden grips would be appropriate for your fine customized revolver.

Very nice indeed.
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:38 AM
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I don't recognize the 'mark'. It certainly looks like an engravers logo or signiture mark.

I'd contact Roger Bleile at the Firearms Engravers Guild (FEGA)

He's their historian and they have a very in depth collection of material on engravers both famous and obscure including 'signitures'.
He may have something on it.

Include ALL the pics you have to help ID the scroll style and the firearm as well (period of mfg, ect sometimes helps)

FEGA-Historian:
C. Roger Bleile
Historical database.
fega.historian@gmail.com
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