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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 05-23-2020, 02:06 AM
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With a lot of extra time on my hands, I decided to research an old 32 HE that I've had in the safe for a number of years. I had lettered this gun in March of 2016. It was shipped to Mr. H.M. Quirk of the Philadelphia Police Department on April 11, 1900. I had filed the letter away with out a thought of who Mr Quirk was.

So today, off to GOOGLE land I went and got a nice surprise. The following is a synopsis of information that I found.

Enjoy

Harry M. Quirk was born in Philadelphia on October 29, 1840. After passing through the public schools of the city he was apprenticed to the trade of carpentry, and he learned that trade and worked at it until he enlisted on April 24, 1861, as a private in the 18th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, he saw action in July at the First Bull Run Campaign and was mustered out August 6, 1861. He re-enlisted on September 17, 1861, as sergeant in the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company P. Under an order of the War Department he was transferred to the 147th Regiment. At the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863, a Confederate bullet pierced Quirk's left eye and left him bleeding on the field. He recovered from his wound, but it disabled him for military duty, as the left eye was destroyed by the bullet. He nevertheless returned to his regiment and was commissioned first lieutenant. He remained with his regiment until he was mustered out at Mill Creek, Georgia, in 1864. Returning to Philadelphia, He entered politics and was elected to the House of Representatives for the terms of 1875, 1876, 1877 and 1878. On January 1, 1880, he received the appointment to a clerkship in the office of the Register of Wills. For some time before becoming connected with the police department he held a clerkship in the Philadelphia gas office. On April 1, 1884, Mayor Smith offered him the captaincy of the Third Police Division, and he commanded the division in a manner which gained for him the reputation of being a most efficient commander and a thorough guardian of the citizens' welfare and interests. From 1892 to 1904 Quirk served the city of Philadelphia as the Superintendent of Police until his death, December 5, 1904.

It is often said "if this old gun could talk". Google can make them talk. There are more stories about him, if you want to look him up. He only had this gun for 4 years, it would seem the rest of its history is lost to time.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:23 AM
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Here are more photos. The gun has no police department markings, so I believe it was Mr. Quirks personal firearm. The box has the statement inside the lid, "This Container Patented Dec. 28, 1920" It may be the correct era but not original, I would think.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:30 AM
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"Returning to Philadelphia, Quirk went into the electric business."

What type of electric business was available in 1864???
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:42 AM
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Gil.

Great question! Philadelphia had no electricity until 1881,
I will edit that out. I guess even Google makes mistakes..LOL
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:59 AM
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Great historical background. Guns that letter as shipped to an individual can be most delightful in that respect.

Your gun also presents a nice illustration for the utterly random serial order in which the Model 1896 was shipped.

I happen to have an identical example, which also shipped to Philadelphia, only a little over a month later than yours on May 19, 1900, to E.K. Tryon Co. This one has the serial #11057. Someone must have grabbed a frame from the opposite side of the pile
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:14 AM
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Absalom,

Ah!....the wonderful, strange, and interesting world of Smith & Wesson. Have a few more guns that lettered to individuals, guess I have a little less time on my hands for awhile.

Thanks for your comments,
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatsnguns View Post
Here are more photos . . . The box has the statement inside the lid, "This Container Patented Dec. 28, 1920" It may be the correct era but not original, I would think.
Great story and certainly good you researched your 32 Hand Ejector! The box is considerably later than the gun. The clam-shell or patent box did have a 1920 patent, but was not used until the mid-1920s. If tou read the instructions, they will reference how to open the gun using the thumb-piece.

The box for the 32 HE, 1st was like the one I am showing with my little 4 1/4" Model 1896. This style box was introduced around the 1896 and was made for several models in varying color until about 1910.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:03 PM
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Gary,

Thanks for the input, and pictures. Now I will have to go on the search for the the correct box. What is the s/n on your gun, looks to be a 4 digit number.
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:22 PM
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It is #6443 that shipped in 1901. I also have #6575 and #6889 that shipped 1899 and 1898 respectively, so they must have had a large inventory to chose from. Technically, all frames were made and stamped before 1899 according to Roy, making all antiques.
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:33 PM
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OP, very nice gun with a cool story about the original owner. And, "modern" battlefield medical doctors fixed him up. Yeow. All guns pictured above, very nice. This is why every time I go to this forum section I immediately go to my online bank account and, well, I'm still paying for my house a few more years!
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:06 PM
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Gary,

Way cool, history of Mr. Quirk... Thank you for sharing!

For me, this is exactly the sort of thing I love about historical firearms, not to mention history and well, uh, firearms! Lol

Well done, tying it together and excellent pictures!
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