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Old 11-30-2020, 07:13 PM
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Default Not worth $100

I received my letter from the S&W Historical Foundation today, that I requested on my Model 29 NCHP 50th Anniversary Commemorative. I must say, I'm disappointed in the information included in the letter, most of which had nothing to do with my particular revolver. The first paragraph was a quick history of the first police commemorative, for the Texas Ranger 150th Anniversary. The second paragraph told about other police commemoratives and specified the Ohio State Patrol, and how police commemoratives became popular.

The information on my specific revolver is very basic, and I've learned more about it from the Standard Catalog and general S&W forum members than was included in the letter, some of which is incorrect and/or incomplete. For instance, the letter states the NCHP "logo" which is actually the Trooper's Shield, is, and I quote "stamped" on the side plate, along with the anniversary markings on the barrel. Just to look at the markings, one can tell they are not stamped, but etched, and I have learned they were acid etched at that. I did get a specific number of how many revolvers were purchased for the series, and the shipping date of my revolver. There is no information on the rarity or collector value, which I had hoped there would be at least an estimate based on ANIB condition and unfired. I had also hoped for some statement regarding the process used to etch my revolver and those others in the series, and why that process was chosen over roll stamping, which it seems the majority, if not all other commemoratives used.

I can only hope that this letter, when included with the revolver and presentation case, will increase the value of the package by $100 if it is ever sold.
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:31 PM
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I don't wish to rain on your parade, but I think that maybe you have misunderstood the basic purpose and scope of the letter.
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Old 11-30-2020, 08:16 PM
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Reminds me of folks who spend on a $40.00 1921 Dollar to PGC ...$100.00 eval, 3 weeks later heres you're $140.00 Dollar worth $40.00.

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Old 11-30-2020, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by robertrwalsh View Post
I don't wish to rain on your parade, but I think that maybe you have misunderstood the basic purpose and scope of the letter.
Please enlighten me of the purpose and scope of the letter. Maybe I did misunderstand, but everything in the letter I either already knew, and in more detail, or had nothing to do with the specifics of my revolver.
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Old 11-30-2020, 08:40 PM
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I wish you luck on recouping the cost of the letter if you should sell your revolver. I have haggled with people on purchases where I thought their asking price was a bit unrealistic. Several times they would tell me "but I'm including a factory letter". I have yet to run across one where the letter contained any worthwhile information. I'm sure as hell not going to pay any extra for useless information. That's just the chance you take with these letters.
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Old 11-30-2020, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 357larry View Post
I wish you luck on recouping the cost of the letter if you should sell your revolver. I have haggled with people on purchases where I thought their asking price was a bit unrealistic. Several times they would tell me "but I'm including a factory letter". I have yet to run across one where the letter contained any worthwhile information. I'm sure as hell not going to pay any extra for useless information. That's just the chance you take with these letters.
Letters that simply confirm a common gun in a common configuration shipped to a regular place don't add value, period.

But if you have a rare or unique configuration, it can confirm it's all factory. Or that it shipped to a specific place or individual to corroborate its history.

To the OP, commemorative ≠ collectible. Historical organizations of any form tend to shy away from valuations, that's for the market or an appraiser to decide. But, to be fair, you may have a good argument for the inaccuracies you mentioned.
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:57 PM
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I'm still proud to own the revolver, it's beautiful and commemorates the Highway Patrol of my home state. I suppose I was expecting to see on the letter the things I've found out on my own, just for corroboration if nothing else, such as this being the first Model 29 to be used as a commemorative, and the only commemorative to have the markings acid-etched (others are either roll stamped or laser engraved).

I did find a discrepancy about the numbers made in the Standard catalog. In several posts on the forum, I heard numbers from 1189 to 1200 made, and the Catalog, 4th edition, on page 235 states "approx. 300 manufactured". My letter states that 1080 were ordered and delivered in July of 1979; I can say definitively that the number is at least 835, as 0835 is the number stamped on the frame of the one I own.

I do have some hopes of learning more about these guns; I've been in contact with the current armorer for the NCHP, who has said he would see what he could learn about the disposition of these guns after they were delivered, which the Historical Foundation doesn't have, and I didn't expect them to.

What makes these commemorative special in my eyes is that the initial purchaser had to be a current Trooper or a retiree, and weren't available to the general public, at least until the original owner sold theirs. Since this series was offered in 1979, I can imagine the ones coming on the market are from families of the original owners or their estates.
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Old 11-30-2020, 11:05 PM
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I've never understood the Historical Letters to be anything other than a way to confirm original configuration and where, when and to whom a firearm shipped, with no guarantee that all that information is available. They usually have some information about the history of that particular firearms development.

Anything other than that mundane information is a bonus.

I'd agree that if the info re: etching vs stamping is incorrect, it should be fixed. Or, maybe there's another, more interesting explanation.

ETA: The OP posted while I was typing and I see there's some discrepancy about total numbers produced. That could be interesting. Maybe there were multiple runs?
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:33 AM
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Generally speaking, factory letters will provide specific details about the firearm as it was shipped (caliber, finish, barrel length, optional features), when the piece was shipped, and to whom (dealer, distributor, etc) it was delivered. This information serves to confirm authenticity (assuming it remains as manufactured) and establishes a base point for documenting provenance.

This is not an appraisal or opinion about present condition or market value.

Again generally speaking, commemorative issues may tend to have lower market values than comparable standard production pieces, the exceptions being those purchasers desiring that specific commemorative for personal reasons or to complete a collection within a series.

In the case of the OP's revolver the persons likely to be most interested would be those with a close personal connection to NCHP, or perhaps a collector who limits his acquisitions to commemorative issues.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:42 AM
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Maybe Roy was thinking of one of these.
NCSHP commemorative S&W Model 66-1
I sold this one to another member here on the board a few years ago.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:14 AM
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All of the letters I've received have a basic history of the model in then first paragraph which as you say can be commonly obtained.
Personally I only letter older guns and like most here I'm looking for the info in the last paragraph. That info is where you pay your money and roll the dice. We all hope it was shipped to some famous person or organization, but most times it's just some mom and pop hardware store. Even if the gun doesn't have some exciting shipped to info I enjoy investigating the history of where it went even if it's some hardware that has long since went out of business. For me the letters have value even if they don't add value to the gun.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:27 AM
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I've only lettered two guns my Registered Magnum...and my Dad' s 1946 M&P.

The RM letter will add value .... my Dad's M&P, not so much, it's one of a million M&P; but it's a family heirloom.

Got good information on both.... when and where the gun shipped and configuration when it left the factory.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC38 View Post
Maybe Roy was thinking of one of these.
NCSHP commemorative S&W Model 66-1
I sold this one to another member here on the board a few years ago.
Wow, I like that one. I see it mentioned in the Standard Catalog, but no details regarding numbers or what year. Do you know any more about them? I ouldn't mind one of those; I have an unmarked M66-1 RB 2-1/2".

I'd like to find one of the M66-2's that have the NC ALE seal, for my nephew, who worked for ALE. They were issued from 1983 to about 1986. There was also an unmarked M66-1 issued to them from '78-'83.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Hair Trigger View Post
I received my letter from the S&W Historical Foundation today, that I requested on my Model 29 NCHP 50th Anniversary Commemorative. I must say, I'm disappointed in the information included in the letter, most of which had nothing to do with my particular revolver. The first paragraph was a quick history of the first police commemorative, for the Texas Ranger 150th Anniversary. The second paragraph told about other police commemoratives and specified the Ohio State Patrol, and how police commemoratives became popular.

The information on my specific revolver is very basic, and I've learned more about it from the Standard Catalog and general S&W forum members than was included in the letter, some of which is incorrect and/or incomplete. For instance, the letter states the NCHP "logo" which is actually the Trooper's Shield, is, and I quote "stamped" on the side plate, along with the anniversary markings on the barrel. Just to look at the markings, one can tell they are not stamped, but etched, and I have learned they were acid etched at that. I did get a specific number of how many revolvers were purchased for the series, and the shipping date of my revolver. There is no information on the rarity or collector value, which I had hoped there would be at least an estimate based on ANIB condition and unfired. I had also hoped for some statement regarding the process used to etch my revolver and those others in the series, and why that process was chosen over roll stamping, which it seems the majority, if not all other commemoratives used.

I can only hope that this letter, when included with the revolver and presentation case, will increase the value of the package by $100 if it is ever sold.

Oh, C’Mon now ,, mine has great info
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:36 PM
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Here is a perfect example of the information that a letter CAN tell you. Most just let you know as others have said, basic configuration and when it was shipped and to who.

But once in awhile SURPRISE!!





Wesley Grapp served as head of the Los Angeles Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office. He was the agent who carried out Hoover's orders to give FBI information to University of California senior regent Edwin W. Pauley. Pauley allegedly had a history of political connections with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of today's CIA, as well as a close association with Will Jenkinson, who was later to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, (1953–1961).

Grapp left the FBI in 1972 and headed security for Flying Tigers Airlines.

Edwin W. Pauley

Pauley told Grapp that in the 1950s the FBI secretly gave the university reports on professors it was considering hiring. He said he wanted to restore the procedure—which the FBI had code-named the Responsibilities Program—and offered to pay someone to check FBI files. After Pauley promised not to reveal that the FBI was his source, Grapp gave him a report on UC Berkeley immunology professor Leon Wofsy that summarized news stories from 1945 to 1956, noting that Wofsy had been a self-avowed Communist Party official who tried to get young people involved with the party. The report failed to note that since 1957 the FBI had found no evidence that Wofsy had been involved with the party.[14]

On February 4, 1965, Grapp told Hoover that Pauley could be used as a source on internal University affairs, and could harass and remove suspected communists on the faculty and the Board of Regents. Hoover approved, and one week later Pauley was given confidential information on Coblentz, Roth and Heller. Pauley, Grapp reported to Hoover, was "most appreciative" of the information on his opponents. As Pauley saw it, according to Grapp's report, UC would remain in turmoil "as long as the current officials were in power at the university."[14]
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Old 12-05-2020, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by hkcavalier View Post
To the OP, commemorative ≠ collectible.
YES! THIS! SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they bought a commemorative gun because it was a collectible and would go up in value ... I'd have a lot of dollars. And if I had another dollar for every commemorative gun I've seen sell online for waaaay less than the original price ... I'd have a lot more dollars!
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Old 12-05-2020, 05:55 PM
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I think that perhaps some folks misunderstand what a historical letter is all about.

As has been stated, the beginning of most letters is a background on the model that you have asked about. Perhaps when it came into production or why, maybe how many have been produced if no longer in production etc. Then the letter goes into the specifics of your gun, date shipped, where it shipped to and if you are lucky, it will tell you the configuration that the gun left as. As others have said, this lets you know that the gun you are holding (as an example) "shipped with a 6" barrel, had a blue finish. wore gold medallion diamond stocks and had a Patridge front sight."

This is a historical letter based on information found in the S&W records. It is not an appraisal or an estimate of value, that comes from an appraiser not a historian. I think that whether the emblem was etched or stamped or roll stamped or put on with an electric pencil is a little like "you say potayto and I say pototto."

The information in the SC of S&W for the most part was taken from books written by Roy Jinks. Even errors in the original works were transcribed forward. As wonderful as the authors are, Jim and Rick never worked at S&W to my knowledge. Roy Jinks was the company historian for like 40 years and also served as Service Manager among other positions. There is no one on the planet that I know of that has his knowledge or first hand experience or knows more about Smith and Wesson's and their origins. Had Roy Jinks not purchased the factory records when the Wesson family no longer owned the company and was no longer interested in paying the storage fees for those stored records, there wouldn't be a factory history letter today.

Rather than bashing the letter or its author, I would guess that if you had returned the letter with an explanation about etching versus stamping, that Roy would have gladly corrected the letter to your liking. Even with all that Roy knows he cannot possibly remember every detail about every firearm that the factory ever produced and especially those of limited production and perhaps appeal. I have been collecting S&W's for about 50 years and have never heard of this particular gun. It maters to you because you have an affinity to NC and perhaps to the State Police.

Also remember one thing, just having any letter signed by Dr. Roy Jinks (his autograph) regardless of the contents is most likely worth the price that you paid.
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Old 12-05-2020, 06:02 PM
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PS: As a further example, there was a gentleman who recently purchased a .22/32 HFT at a pawn shop for $300. It was a plain Jane HFT but he decided to letter the gun. As it turns out the gun was shipped to a gentleman that just happened to be Annie Oakley's husband.

That gun just sold at auction for $47,500.

What was the value of that letter?
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Old 12-05-2020, 07:21 PM
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$47,500 is impressive. I buy letters for my older Smiths to determine when they were shipped, and to whom. If they were shipped with different configurations, good to know. It's how I found out my M&P 38 is a month older than I am - exactly 30 days. My crib buddy.
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Old 12-06-2020, 03:43 PM
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It would be nice to find out that one of my older Smith & Wessons was delivered to someone famous. And for $40,000 in profit, I might even sell one
.....otherwise, I struggle to decide which ones are worth investing (risking) $100 on....especially when one owns quite a few. I know there are many collectors here who letter every one they own. I think they run in different circles than I. I can accumulate several nice guns for what it would cost me to letter all of mine....

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Old 12-06-2020, 07:20 PM
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The only guns I will letter are those with configurations, that if factory, will increase the price. An example, is a BSS Colt I bought at a polished stainless price, but was said to be factory. So, I sent for the letter and guess what, it was BSS from the factory. That letter will add a grand to the value of the gun. It was a calculated risk. I figured if it was BSS then I am ahead, if it wasn't well gonna have to hang on to that one awhile.

So, verifying factory engraving, unusual barrel lengths, stock composition (factory ivory) etc. is the real value factory letters provide.

Every once in awhile, the shipped to will add to the value, but that is like finding another copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden under a 2.00 picture purchased at a garage sale. It happens, but not very often.
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Old 12-06-2020, 07:23 PM
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The only guns I will letter are those with configurations, that if factory, will increase the price. An example, is a BSS Colt I bought at a polished stainless price, but was said to be factory. So, I sent for the letter and guess what, it was BSS from the factory. That letter will add a grand to the value of the gun. It was a calculated risk. I figured if it was BSS then I am ahead, if it wasn't well gonna have to hang on to that one awhile.

So, verifying factory engraving, unusual barrel lengths, stock composition (factory ivory) etc. is the real value factory letters provide.

Every once in awhile, the shipped to will add to the value, but that is like finding another copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden under a 2.00 picture purchased at a garage sale. It happens, but not very often.
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Old 12-06-2020, 07:36 PM
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In a similar occurrence, last December I went in to a casino and lost $100. Bummer.
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Old 12-06-2020, 08:00 PM
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Well said Sir.
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Old 12-06-2020, 08:38 PM
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I’ve read this complaint I don’t know how many times, and it appears your biggest issue is Roy’s failure to have been present in the production meeting with a notepad when acid etching vs. roll stamping was discussed. I’m not sure that can be resolved . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hair Trigger View Post
I received my letter from the S&W Historical Foundation today, that I requested on my Model 29 NCHP 50th Anniversary Commemorative. I must say, I'm disappointed in the information included in the letter, most of which had nothing to do with my particular revolver. The first paragraph was a quick history of the first police commemorative, for the Texas Ranger 150th Anniversary. The second paragraph told about other police commemoratives and specified the Ohio State Patrol, and how police commemoratives became popular.

The information on my specific revolver is very basic, and I've learned more about it from the Standard Catalog and general S&W forum members than was included in the letter, some of which is incorrect and/or incomplete. For instance, the letter states the NCHP "logo" which is actually the Trooper's Shield, is, and I quote "stamped" on the side plate, along with the anniversary markings on the barrel. Just to look at the markings, one can tell they are not stamped, but etched, and I have learned they were acid etched at that. I did get a specific number of how many revolvers were purchased for the series, and the shipping date of my revolver. There is no information on the rarity or collector value, which I had hoped there would be at least an estimate based on ANIB condition and unfired. I had also hoped for some statement regarding the process used to etch my revolver and those others in the series, and why that process was chosen over roll stamping, which it seems the majority, if not all other commemoratives used.

I can only hope that this letter, when included with the revolver and presentation case, will increase the value of the package by $100 if it is ever sold.
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Old 12-06-2020, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAM-BAM View Post
I've only lettered two guns my Registered Magnum...and my Dad' s 1946 M&P.

The RM letter will add value .... my Dad's M&P, not so much, it's one of a million M&P; but it's a family heirloom.

Got good information on both.... when and where the gun shipped and configuration when it left the factory.
I’m waiting for the letter on my 1946 M&P. The serial number falls within a batch that was shipped to the NYPD, and since I am a retired member of that department I rolled the dice. I hope I’m not disappointed but nothing is guaranteed in life. I hope it is an NYPD gun. I wonder where it’s been for the last 74 years and how many owners it had. If it is an NYPD gun it will stay with me until my son has it one day.
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Old 12-06-2020, 09:21 PM
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When I request a letter of authentication, I'm looking to confirm the firearm I have in my hands is the same today as the day it left the factory. I believe that to be the purpose of such a letter. The current cost of the letter is the expense of my desire to have peace of mind. I have no expectations such a letter will make the firearm more valuable then it was before the letter. Should there be a mistake, I have no doubt that Dr. Jinks would gladly correct the error.
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Old 12-06-2020, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Hair Trigger View Post
Wow, I like that one. I see it mentioned in the Standard Catalog, but no details regarding numbers or what year. Do you know any more about them? I ouldn't mind one of those; I have an unmarked M66-1 RB 2-1/2".

I'd like to find one of the M66-2's that have the NC ALE seal, for my nephew, who worked for ALE. They were issued from 1983 to about 1986. There was also an unmarked M66-1 issued to them from '78-'83.
You mean like this?





Or this?




And, you missed one:



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Old 12-06-2020, 10:16 PM
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I'm still proud to own the revolver, it's beautiful and commemorates the Highway Patrol of my home state. I suppose I was expecting to see on the letter the things I've found out on my own, just for corroboration if nothing else, such as this being the first Model 29 to be used as a commemorative, and the only commemorative to have the markings acid-etched (others are either roll stamped or laser engraved).

I did find a discrepancy about the numbers made in the Standard catalog. In several posts on the forum, I heard numbers from 1189 to 1200 made, and the Catalog, 4th edition, on page 235 states "approx. 300 manufactured". My letter states that 1080 were ordered and delivered in July of 1979; I can say definitively that the number is at least 835, as 0835 is the number stamped on the frame of the one I own.

I do have some hopes of learning more about these guns; I've been in contact with the current armorer for the NCHP, who has said he would see what he could learn about the disposition of these guns after they were delivered, which the Historical Foundation doesn't have, and I didn't expect them to.

What makes these commemorative special in my eyes is that the initial purchaser had to be a current Trooper or a retiree, and weren't available to the general public, at least until the original owner sold theirs. Since this series was offered in 1979, I can imagine the ones coming on the market are from families of the original owners or their estates.
They may have been delivered to Davidsons in July of 1979, but they did not get to the NC State Highway Patrol Armory until the end of August or first of September. I know as I was going through ALE Basic School (held in conjunction with the 66th NC SHP Basic School) when they were delivered. As I have posted before, we were required to "guard" them all night for about a week.

When delivered to Davidsons a problem was discovered with many of them and they were returned to S&W for the side plates to be re etched (SHP Badge) and replaced. This might explain the discrepancy in time.
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Old 12-09-2020, 01:31 PM
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I think that perhaps some folks misunderstand what a historical letter is all about.

As has been stated, the beginning of most letters is a background on the model that you have asked about. Perhaps when it came into production or why, maybe how many have been produced if no longer in production etc. Then the letter goes into the specifics of your gun, date shipped, where it shipped to and if you are lucky, it will tell you the configuration that the gun left as. As others have said, this lets you know that the gun you are holding (as an example) "shipped with a 6" barrel, had a blue finish. wore gold medallion diamond stocks and had a Patridge front sight."

This is a historical letter based on information found in the S&W records. It is not an appraisal or an estimate of value, that comes from an appraiser not a historian. I think that whether the emblem was etched or stamped or roll stamped or put on with an electric pencil is a little like "you say potayto and I say pototto."

The information in the SC of S&W for the most part was taken from books written by Roy Jinks. Even errors in the original works were transcribed forward. As wonderful as the authors are, Jim and Rick never worked at S&W to my knowledge. Roy Jinks was the company historian for like 40 years and also served as Service Manager among other positions. There is no one on the planet that I know of that has his knowledge or first hand experience or knows more about Smith and Wesson's and their origins. Had Roy Jinks not purchased the factory records when the Wesson family no longer owned the company and was no longer interested in paying the storage fees for those stored records, there wouldn't be a factory history letter today.

Rather than bashing the letter or its author, I would guess that if you had returned the letter with an explanation about etching versus stamping, that Roy would have gladly corrected the letter to your liking. Even with all that Roy knows he cannot possibly remember every detail about every firearm that the factory ever produced and especially those of limited production and perhaps appeal. I have been collecting S&W's for about 50 years and have never heard of this particular gun. It maters to you because you have an affinity to NC and perhaps to the State Police.

Also remember one thing, just having any letter signed by Dr. Roy Jinks (his autograph) regardless of the contents is most likely worth the price that you paid.
James
Well said. It seems no matter what some people aren't happy no matter what. You could give letters away for free, they still would find fault. We can only report what and where. I can't tell you how many times I've had people email, call or write letters back saying our research was wrong because grandpa or dad said he carried this gun with Custer or Utah beach only to tell them the gun shipped for our factory years later. If I can, I'll show you the value of lettering a plain Jane 38 M&P, or as one person said here, one of a million. I bought this at a local gun shop because it was like new and in it's original box. It letters to Frank Wesson, Treasurer, Smith & Wesson.
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Old 12-10-2020, 12:21 AM
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Obviously you don’t need to request a “Factory Letter” very often.

Sometimes it really pays off just cause it proves that a specific firearm was indeed produced at the factory. Many production numbers are unknown until a factory letter is requested and produced, (9 Recon for instance.) Granted factory numbers are not always precise but that’s what they got to work with. Even Roy, in an email reply to me said that S&W “was not in the business to make collectibles and their record keeping on these guns that we are collecting today are not very accurate.” “ The more modern gun records on items that we think are collectible are just a source of profit for the company.” Unfortunately all true.

One very unusual example that I had lettered was just that. Turned out to be a limited factory run of @ 15. That letter satisfied my curiosity and doubts plus added a bunch more to the value. I got another letter that came with a pistol I acquired and it was amazing. Every back and forth it did from leaving the factory, until the person I got it from was notated. The only other letter I requested proved it did not leave the factory in the configuration it is now. That letter was well received by me even though the news was not great. I appreciate the fact that these records are still around, able to be accessed and then being shared with us.

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Old 12-10-2020, 02:27 AM
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I requested information on a M-1955, the seller said he thought it was factory nickel, If true it would be a pretty valuable revolver. He wanted $2000, I inquired if it left the factory nickel and Roy said nope it left blued. Saved me from making an expensive mistake. The gentleman selling the revolver just was mistaken, he said he had research it and there was a possibility. He was not happy with the information but thanked me because he wasn't trying to fool anyone.
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Old 12-11-2020, 08:33 AM
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In a similar occurrence, last December I went in to a casino and lost $100. Bummer.
Better chance in a casino. There is no reason to think that a letter for a gun produced in recent times, and a commemorative at that, would be accretive to the gun's value or would reveal other than mundane information.
I agree with the thoughts of others about commemoratives and their investment/collectability qualities. Right out of the gate, most have little appeal to those in forty nine other states or those without a sense of history.
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Old 12-11-2020, 09:21 AM
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I've never paid for a letter and never would unless I was dealing with some five or six figure gun and the value really was dependent upon certain features. I'm not knocking anyone who does, but for my personal use, it wouldn't be worth $100 to know my gun shipped to XYZ Hardward in 19YY.
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