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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 02-14-2020, 07:31 PM
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Default Leo H. Rice’s 1st Year 4.5” Consecutive Reg# RM Matched Pair

On September 16, 1935 a matched pair of consecutive registration numbered Registered Magnums were shipped from the Smith & Wesson factory to Leo H. Rice in Moorhead, Iowa. The RM’s had consecutive registration numbers 447 & 448, serial numbers 46647 & 46669 respectively. They were equipped with 4.5” barrels, McGivern Gold Bead front sights, “U” notch rear sights, blue finish, and checkered walnut service style grips with Wesson grip adapters attached. They were sighted in at 50 yards with .357 Magnum ammunition using a dead center hold, and were billed at $35.45 each for total of $70.90 plus a 10% excise tax on the 2 revolvers of $7.09 for the complete billing price of $77.99. They were shipped as a special selected pair. According to Roy’s “Table of .357 Registered Magnum Known Barrel Length Production”, there were only 97 RMs produced with 4.5” barrels.

Mr. Rice had ordered the Magnums through the Edwards & Walker Company of Portland, Maine and the order was placed with the factory on August 27, 1935. Approximately 1 year after receiving the Magnums, on September 1, 1936 Mr. Rice wrote a letter to the factory requesting prices on several parts and explaining a problem he had with Reg# 447. He even diagrammed the hammer and trigger problem causing a hard double action trigger pull in the letter. He also stated in the letter “The two .357 Magnums are the finest and best pair of guns I ever owned.” On September 3, 1936 the S&W Repair Department responded to Mr. Rice’s letter with prices for the new parts and offering to adjust the hammer and trigger problem at no charge. On October 5, 1936 Mr. Rice returned Reg# 447 to the factory for adjustment. Apparently the fix to Reg# 447 was very minor as there are no factory rework marks on the gun.

Leo Henry Rice was born on November 13, 1913 in Blencoe, Iowa, near the western Iowa border north of the Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska area. He had two younger brothers, Ira (3 years younger) and Harry (6 years younger). The 1940 U. S. Federal Census lists his occupation as a farmer, working on his own account, 72 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Possibly that helps explain how a young man not yet 22 years old could afford a matched pair of S&W Registered Magnums during the Great Depression. He entered the U. S. Army on February 18, 1942 and served until September 15, 1945. He was with the Army Air Force 394th Fighter Squadron in Europe where he repaired aircraft machine guns and armed bombs. After WWII he and his brother Ira built and operated the Manawa Roller Rink near Council Bluffs. He also invented and obtained a patent for a ground brake for roller skates. He was a member of the National Rifle Association, and he and his brother Ira also owned a gun shop for decades after WWII. He died in Council Bluffs on January 1, 1998 and was buried at Rosehill Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Missouri Valley.

I bought this matched pair from the original owner’s nephew. He had initially listed them in a GB auction at a very high starting price that went through a couple of cycles with no bids. At that point I made contact and we agreed upon a price. The total package included the two RMs, original registration certificates for both, and a type 2 medium sized box for Reg# 447 complete with the extra rear sight blade in the envelope, SAT, brush, swab, caution sheet, RM brochure, and wrapping paper. I believe the box to be original to Reg# 447 with this caveat.....these RMs are fairly early 1st years guns that should have originally shipped in 1935 in large type 1 boxes (which picture the RM with Wesson grip adapter attached.) My thinking is that the medium sized type 2 box that I got with this package is the box that the factory used in 1936 to ship Reg# 447 back to Mr. Rice after they made the necessary adjustments to the gun. There are no markings on the type 2 box, however I firmly believe this is not a put together package - especially coming directly from the family and not having a contrived look to it. Regardless, today the two matched RMs are in nearly identical condition. I would rate them at 95% original factory finish and configuration with original 4.5” barrels, original numbered to the guns service style stocks, original McGivern Gold Bead front sights, and original “U” notch rear sights. The Wesson grip adapters, which all of these early 1st year guns were shipped with, are missing and apparently were not used by Mr. Rice. This pair is in the perfect condition for me, nice but not safe queens. They have been fun to research and document, fun to display, and fun to shoot on occasion. The actions and mechanics are perfect on both guns, and in the original owners words, “the two .357 Magnums are the finest and best pair of guns I ever owned.”! Below are a few pictures to support my comments.


















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Old 02-14-2020, 07:40 PM
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That's a lot of research, thank you for taking the time to post - I'm honored to have the first "like".
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:46 PM
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Terry:

Outstanding guns. Outstanding photos. Outstanding research. Outstanding write-up.

Thanks a ton for sharing with the rest of us!
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:48 PM
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I enjoyed your post and thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:52 PM
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For true Smith & Wesson aficionados, it's threads like this that make this forum worthwhile. Filled with facts about two beautiful guns and lovely photos to go along with the information.

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Old 02-14-2020, 07:54 PM
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The best I can come up it’s is WOW!

Wonderful condition, superb documentation and the only original pair I’ve seen posted. Thank you for posting!
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:20 PM
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POST OF THE CENTURY! (Has the forum been around for a Century!? —Well maybe a decade!).
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:28 PM
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That is a fantastic pair with top notch provenance. I like the 4.5" barrels too.

I often wondered what the rationale was on the RM's when people had them built in non-standard barrel lengths. One theory for owners of 4.75", 5.5" and 7.5" RM's is that their owners were familiar with those lengths from Colt SAA's and other popular models, and figured there was some combination of ballistics and handiness with each of those lengths that appealed to them.

Or maybe they just wanted something different ? Production figures show that the most common 3.5", 4", 5", 6", 6.5" and 8.5" or later 8 3/8" guns met the needs of the majority of buyers.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:33 PM
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Museum quality presentation, Thank You for sharing!!
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:46 PM
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Great revolvers, great provenance, and a fine write-up.

Nice to hear you take them out to shoot!

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:08 PM
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Wow. Amazing find.
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:20 PM
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WOW! Those are just amazing guns. Also great documentation. And a great job of picture taking.

I don't want to be the only bad grape in the bunch, but where are the grip adapters? The letter says they were attached (I think).

Those have to be just a wonderful set of guns to add to a collection.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:19 PM
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Outstanding acquisition, Terry!
Mr. Rice had excellent tastes, as do you.
Thanks for the detailed history lesson; posts like this make membership in this Forum worthwhile.
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:16 AM
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I remember seeing those listed and I wish I could have afforded them! Outstanding post!
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:17 AM
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Beautiful post. I see a 50th Anniversary Symposium display in the making!
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:28 AM
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What a magnificent pair of revolvers!!! Thank you for sharing them and your research with us.

Best Regarss, Les
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:32 AM
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Just amazing!!! Outstanding documentation and great photos. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:38 AM
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Awesome guns and fantastic post.
Larry
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:07 AM
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Great job!
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettepartz View Post
WOW! Those are just amazing guns. Also great documentation. And a great job of picture taking.

I don't want to be the only bad grape in the bunch, but where are the grip adapters? The letter says they were attached (I think).

Those have to be just a wonderful set of guns to add to a collection.

It appears the original owner didn't care for the adaptors and removed them. Now they are lost to time.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:27 AM
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I can't say much more than what's been previously said.
I find it particularly interesting that a person would order 2 identical guns at the same time. I guess he subscribed to the theory that" two are better than one."
Outstanding post!
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:04 AM
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Excellent!
I'm thinking the original owner, Mr. Rice must've had a rocking-successful skating rink business for the time. Can't imagine at that time in America that many people had matching pairs of RM's!
Thank you for a great post....
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Rego View Post
... Production figures show that the most common 3.5", 4", 5", 6", 6.5" and 8.5" or later 8 3/8" guns met the needs of the majority of buyers.
I too have often wondered why people chose certain barrel lengths. As to the long ones (which have always been some of my favorites) I think you probably mean 8 3/4" not 8.5", as the records I've seen show only an estimated 10 shipping with 8.5" barrels. And in the Registered gun era, there were only an estimated 38 shipped with 8 3/8" barrels. The most common long ones were 8 3/4" (estimated at 735 of them). Since Terry posted those beautiful 4.5"s, for reference, Mr. Jinks estimates that there were 108 shipped with 4.5" barrels.

What a great thread and wonderful posts...
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:07 AM
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Great pair. The last RM I had was a 4.5" barrel, but someone made it that way.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:18 AM
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I am in love!
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:02 PM
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amazing . thanks for sharing .
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:25 PM
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Wonderful set of guns!!

What a great piece of history to use, and share with the future.

Because of the great documentation Ira's name lives on for generations to come.

Now I am not much of a holster guy so this question might seem odd. Looking at the holster wear on each gun does it appear he had a two gun holster and wore both?

Or is it likely he had the second made for his son or wife to holster the other RM right handed?

Thanks for sharing
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:02 PM
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What a beautiful pair of revolvers.
I see he worked a 72 hour week. Good to know that back then as well as now, farmers took the morning off on Sundays.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:03 PM
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Thank you for all of the wonderful feedback. To address a few of the comments and questions..............

Where are the grip adapters? There is a chance, probably remote at best, that the seller will find them. He told me that he has a lot of Leo’s things to go through and that if he finds any missing items (boxes/mailing tubes/adapters) associated with these guns he will send them to me. Also, since Wesson adapters are not serialized to the guns, I have asked George Dye to round me up a pair of them.

A 50th Anniversary Symposium Display in the making! No, but perhaps a Journal article.

Looking at the holster wear on each gun does it appear he had a two gun holster and wore both? Yes, that is exactly what he had. In fact I also got the 2 gun holster rig which has S. D. Myres holsters on an unmarked belt. The rig is not fancy at all with no lining, lacing, or carving. The real problem was that it was fragile and basically falling apart. The old threads were breaking at the tongue, buckle, and cartridge loops, and the cartridge loops themselves were so fragile that they would not hold cartridges without breaking. I had the rig repaired and reconditioned, but I was not at all happy with the results, and chose not to mention it in this post. These guns deserve much better and my plan is to find a 2 gun rig (either S. D. Myres or H. H. Heiser) worthy of holstering these guns.

I also got some stories about Leo from from the nephew that I bought the guns from. (For example, he told me that Leo used to throw walnuts up in the air and shoot and hit them with these guns!) But for the post I decided to stick with facts that I could document and thus did not include some items that are probably more entertaining. He wasn’t a lawman or a working cowboy. My sense is he was just a guy that knew and liked guns a lot, and was able to pull off getting two of the best when many people in this country weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:27 PM
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One of the most interesting posts that I have ever read. To also see the pictures and all of the documentation really puts it over the top. I thank you very much for doing it.
Most of us will never see a RM let alone a pair like yours.
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Old 02-15-2020, 06:36 PM
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One of the best threads I've seen in a very long time. What a great pair of RM's you have there. Congratulations on the acquisition of these fine guns, and thank you for sharing them here.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:21 PM
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Thanks for posting this OP. I love learning this kind of history (the RMs aren’t too shabby either).
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKmesa View Post
I too have often wondered why people chose certain barrel lengths. As to the long ones (which have always been some of my favorites) I think you probably mean 8 3/4" not 8.5", as the records I've seen show only an estimated 10 shipping with 8.5" barrels. And in the Registered gun era, there were only an estimated 38 shipped with 8 3/8" barrels. The most common long ones were 8 3/4" (estimated at 735 of them). Since Terry posted those beautiful 4.5"s, for reference, Mr. Jinks estimates that there were 108 shipped with 4.5" barrels.

What a great thread and wonderful posts...
Thanks, I guess I was thinking of whatever the maximum barrel length available was and prior to the introduction of the 8 3/8" barrels which were necessary to meet some competition rules regarding the distance between the front & rear sights.

I seem to recall also that all the barrel forgings started out as 8 3/4" as that was the maximum that would fit in their tooling, and then the barrels were cut to the requested lengths and then crowned and the rib would be milled for the sight base and blade of choice.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:40 AM
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Just incredible, Terry. Enjoyed reading about Leo. Quite an interesting man. And two RMs for $77 bucks. Makes me laugh. Thanks for your great work. Dave
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:09 AM
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Wow. Great post, great history, and great guns. Thoroughly enjoyed.
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:04 PM
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Those pre-war 357's are some of the most awesome revolvers ever. Thanks for showing us.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:00 PM
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Default Leo H. Rice’s 1st Year 4.5” Consecutive Reg# RM Matched Pair

Three pictures/documents added to post 1 above - the picture on the back of an Edwards and Walker Company business envelope, and the 2 pages of Leo Rice’s Application to State of Iowa for World War II Service Compensation. Why a resident of Iowa placed an order for a pair or RMs with a wholesaler in Maine remains a mystery.
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:28 AM
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Default Leo H. Rice’s 1st Year 4.5” Consecutive Reg# RM Matched Pair

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettepartz View Post
........where are the grip adapters? The letter says they were attached (I think).
Just for you Vette .........now with original Wesson grip adapters attached - just as shipped from the factory.



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Terry Lester
CA 3070 HF 492

Last edited by lestert357; 03-30-2020 at 05:11 PM.
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