View Full Version : Help me ID this old handgun?
10-17-2010, 12:09 AM
Hello Pros, Enthusiasts, & Experts!
My father, 85, passed away recently & part of his collection of great things was a handgun. My mom told me that this gun belonged to HIS father, my grandfather, who passed away in the 1960s, I believe.
Can anyone identify this for me? To my knowledge, it has not been fired. It has a couple of marks that are obvious (to me): The top has "Vest Pocket Safety Hammer", the topside edge has "Patented April 5, 1887" & the bottom of the handle has the serial number: 30233. (see pics for details)
Any guesses? Clues? Hints?
My aim here is to see if this is worth anything...then to try to sell it to someone who appreciates it!
10-17-2010, 01:03 AM
It's an Harrington & Richardson revolver - probably 2nd Model (need serial number for sure - but blue trigger guard, aluminum grip panel escutcheon and thick recoil shield indicate this model) made after 1904. It's a 5 shot .32 S&W capable of firing smokeless powder. It's nickel plated and has a 1 1/8" barrel. This model derived from the medium frame H&R Young America revolver.
10-17-2010, 01:40 AM
Thanks, Jim, for your quick reply!
The bottom of the handle shows what I believe is the serial number: 30233.
(I can't add a pic here unless I start a new thread.)
Any recommendations on good websites or dealers that might appraise or even help me sell this revolver? It has a box of ammunition w/it, too:
50 Western Cartridges - 32 S & W Center Fire - 85 grain Lubaloy bullets, oilproof, non-corroseive priming - smokeless powder
**THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR HELP! :) :) :)
I DO appreciate your help! :)
10-17-2010, 03:23 AM
Bill Goforth a member here, can give you the value of your revolver when he comes in and also here at TFF, there is a Buy/Sell/Trade forum where one can list things of such.
10-17-2010, 11:36 AM
Your revolver is a 2nd Model. From the pictures, it appears to grade in Very Good condition. This model is somewhat collectible to H&R collectors as well as pocket pistol/revolver collectors. In this condition it may sell, retail at auction, for between $185 - $200. In order to sell, because it is a "modern firearm", made after 12/31/1898, it must go through the hands of a licensed dealer. If you need/want to sell it, your easiest and best bet may be to take it to a local FFLicensed dealer, who will offer you probably 60 to 65% of the retail value. The other alternative, which is a bit cumbersome, would be to list it on an on-line gun auction site - but this is a bit complicated for selling one piece. The box of ammo, if the container is in excellent condition - bright colors, corners sharp and not torn, little staining, etc. might sell as high as $20-25 to a collector - you'd probably need to take it to a gunshow and look for a vendor with a lot of boxes of older ammo on his table - OR - you could offer it to the dealer that buys your gun - generally dealers will not pay for old ammo. Your choices are somewhat limited - depending upon the local and state laws.
Jim Hauff, H&R Collector
10-17-2010, 11:55 AM
Lisa, I commend you on your photos. :)
Many we see here are of far less quality.
Best of luck... :D
10-17-2010, 03:50 PM
lisa and jim,
i believe this revolver to be a first model. on this model i believe the patent date marking on the hammer was dropped on the second model. the patent date of april 5, 1887 was for the spurless hammer.
the blue trigger guard means it is a first model 2nd vatiation made between 1897 and 1904. if it is a first model the ammo not the proper ammo but it was most likely bought for this revolver and mostly likely some of then were fired in it. this is a case of the longer 2 inch barrel being more highly sought after than the shorter barrel 1 1/4 inch barrel.
VEST POCKET FIRST MODEL MEDIUM FRAME 32 S&W CALIBER 5 shot
(BLACK POWDER), -------------------------------1891-1904
double action, pull pin cylinder release 1¼ inch round barrel or 2 inch octagon barrel (considered rare) Spurless Hammer, nickel finish, blue considered rare. Marking are on top strap “VEST POCKET SELF COCKER” “VEST POCKET SAFETY HAMMER” or “VEST POCKET”,
First Variation will have a 1¼ ” round or a 2” octagon barrel, nickel finish & nickel trigger guard----1891-1897
Second Variation will have 1¼” round or a 2” octagon barrel, nickel finish, blue trigger guard --------1897-1904
VALUE: 100%=$215 60%=$75 add 50% premium for 2” octagon barrel, 15% premium for blue finish
10-17-2010, 05:40 PM
That is what I thought at first, also...Then I compared Lisa's pictures with pieces from my collection. The early 2nd Mods (as well as the 1st Mod, 2nd Var.) have the patent on the hammer - the major difference is the shape of the left side recoil shield. It's a bit hard to see in the pics - but the 2nd Model has a distinctly heavier recoil shield which curves into the frame - as does Lisa's. The 1st Mod. recoil shield is nearly flat along the back and joins the frame in close to a 90 degree angle. Additionally, the 2nd Model pieces in my collection have the serial number stamped into the bottom of the butt strap, the 1st Mods don't - it's only found under the left grip panel.
10-17-2010, 05:47 PM
Check out these pics:
10-18-2010, 03:08 AM
Wow! You guys are AWESOME! Thanks SO much! :)
A good friend of mine also inherited a handgun from his dad (who coincidentally passed away 2 weeks before my dad!?). Turned out to be an old Colt, which his family recently sold on an Ohio dealer's website - gunrunnerauctions.com - for over $900! They had a good experience with the fellow who owns the shop, so I will probably give him a call soon - 'ARMED' with this information from all of you wonderful folks!
FYI - the ammo box is in rather good condition. Color is a bit faded, but corners are ok -- 49 bullets in there, & I recall finding one stray in my dad's dresser drawer! Eeek! Live ammo! I'll have to go back to my mom's & fetch it.
I sure appreciate your enthusiasm! Wish I could upload more pics here! Ah well...
THANKS AGAIN TO ALL! :D
10-18-2010, 06:43 AM
That is what I thought at first, also...Then I compared Lisa's pictures with pieces from my collection. The early 2nd Mods (as well as the 1st Mod, 2nd Var.) have the patent on the hammer - the major difference is the shape of the left side recoil shield. It's a bit hard to see in the pics - but the 2nd Model has a distinctly heavier recoil shield which curves into the frame - as does Lisa's. The 1st Mod. recoil shield is nearly flat along the back and joins the frame in close to a 90 degree angle. Additionally, the 2nd Model pieces in my collection have the serial number stamped into the bottom of the butt strap, the 1st Mods don't - it's only found under the left grip panel.http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk116/schutzen-jager/Picture054.jpg
jim i did not see you at allentown yesterday - i also accumulate H+R -
10-18-2010, 12:02 PM
Couldn't make it - dang leg wouldn't co-operate...I'll make it to the next one, for sure. Congrats on your H&R collection. Here's pics of part of my H&R Collection.
10-18-2010, 01:13 PM
i don't have many H&R but i do have one of the large frame american double action variaitions of this model (safety hammer double action) it has the recoil shield and round hammer screw just like the gun in question, has the company name and address on left side of barrel but is not marked with a caliber and serial number on both the bottom of the butt and the left side of grip frame under grips. the caliber markings is the only sure way to tell black powder from smokeless powder. the problem with the very short barrel is there is not enough room for the caliber and none have it even those with high 6 digit serial numbers.
now if we could find what we know is a smokeless powder version of this hammer shape that is still marked with the patent date. i could not find any in all the pictures you sent me
10-19-2010, 08:51 PM
I've gone through the pics of all my ADAs, YADAs, etc. and ONLY the 2nd Models have the serial number stamped on the butt of the grip. NONE of the 1st Models of any of these have an external s/n. I know that the Vest Pocket/Self Cockers are confusing - I have enough of them to prove that point, but I'm still thinking that the one pictured is a 2nd Model - not only due to the "beefier" frame (which I believe is indicative of the switch to smokeless powder capabilities) but also the serial number on the butt. What do you think?
10-20-2010, 11:16 AM
Just FWIW, the H&R "Safety Hammer" was not that safe. It is safer only in not having a hammer spur to be dropped on or struck accidentally, but it does not have any hammer block or transfer bar, and should never be carried with a round under the hammer.
03-17-2011, 08:05 PM
I know I am way behind in the game but I just got one of these old safety hammer models. It has the serial number 143 under the grip and on the front of the trigger guard. According to all of the information I have read in this and old posts here mine should be the black powder version in 38. (no writing on the barrel or anywhere other than the back strap,5 shot, and an octagon barrel.) The patent date on the safety hammer is April 5, 1887 if this helps.
If you would like, I will try to get a picture showing that Monday(I work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Hey Jim how many do u have????????????
03-17-2011, 09:43 PM
Was that a bulldog tracker 357 ???
03-18-2011, 08:34 AM
Tim - would love to see your pics - will help positive ID.
Beth - right now, don't know for sure but around 400 assorted H&Rs, dating from mid 1870's up to 1999. I've sold a lot of duplicates over the years - have owned, all together probably 600+. Total aggregate retail value, according to some folks, about a buck ninety-eight.
Capgun - yes. 6" barrel.
03-18-2011, 07:10 PM
I'll get some pics Monday and post them.
03-19-2011, 10:16 AM
Good, really need to see pins, hammer screw and recoil shield on left side.
03-21-2011, 05:10 PM
It will be clearly evident that I am not a photographer when you see these pictures. I have the cylinder out of it because I am working on it.
03-22-2011, 10:32 AM
Analysis from pics: Nickel plated trigger guard - made before 1898; flat head hammer screw and "flat & thin" recoil shield on left side - definitely a First Model, 2nd Variation AMERICAN DOUBLE ACTION with "safety hammer" usually stamped as AMERICAN SAFETY HAMMER on top strap, but not always. It IS, as you suspected, a black powder capable model. As to the low serial number - well, we never were able to really settle the questions about the s/n issues. I believe Bill had the best idea - these guns were made in "batches" and serial numbers (actually assembly numbers in this case) were run up to a certain number (most likely 9999) and then started over. Estimated RETAIL value of your gun: $100 to $150, maybe a bit more - condition may be better in person than in the pics - flaking Nickel drops the value pretty quickly - it continues to occur.
03-22-2011, 11:14 AM
Thank you for the information.
The pictures actually help it some. It does say DOUBLE ACTION, SAFETY HAMMER on the back strap. I really didn't expect it would be worth even that much. After researching this forum, I decided it would be best in a "shadow box" hanging on the wall due to the age. It appears the main pin rusted to the cylinder and someone tried to get it out with vice grips so the knurl looks bad. I punched it out from the other end and found they must have tried to operate it a bunch with it locked up so the places on the back end of the cylinder were "notched" and didn't function properly every time.
I am a machinist by trade so I had it tig welded and then I hand worked them back in. I will check alignment but I have no intention of ever firing it.
03-22-2011, 12:16 PM
You're welcome and thanks for thanking. Shadow box sounds like a really nice idea - you can claim it belonged to some famous historical figure, or something - or just enjoy it hanging on the wall. I have a bunch of H&R spur trigger single action rim fires that I plan to do the same with at some point in the future.
08-19-2012, 05:36 PM
i have the same gun as okumaguru but mine is a six shot . it has 2300 stamped under the left grip. what can you tell me about it.
08-22-2012, 02:06 PM
I think the six shot will make it a different caliber.
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