Engraved Smith & Wessons

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Jim K, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I was at the Baltimore show today and saw a lot of engraved Smith & Wesson revolvers, mostly top breaks. Just MHO, but I think there were just a few TOO many engraved Smiths; they all looked very nice, but without the indications of age and wear that old engraving usually shows.

    The dealers, of course, claimed it was original factory, even though the style of engraving tells a different story. I don't know if it has a single source or several sources, possibly overseas.

    It is nicely done, and most folks would be proud to have a nicely engraved gun in the collection. Also, the prices are not bad for the work involved, so I imagine the guns will sell. But any collector who wants a factory engraved antique S&W should be skeptical of the kind I saw today.

    Jim
  2. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't trust any S&W to be "factory" engraved without a factory letter saying it is so. I have found that most early S&W .38 and .32 top breaks that are engraved were done so at the request of the wholesaler. (Like M.W.Robinson of New York.) These will not "letter" as being an engraved gun, but it doesn't mean that they aren't valuable.

    I have an engraved Model 1 1/2 that letters as having been sent to M.W. Robinson, a New York wholesaler, in 1870. It was just a "Plain Jane" when shipped, but has since been accredited to Nimschke for the engraving.
    It still is a valuable piece.

    [​IMG]
  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I doubt very much that the guns I mention would "letter" to Nimschke or any other 19th century engraver. The problem is that it is not possible to say they are "fakes", since the engraving is certainly real, and not badly done. I am not sure what category a "serious" collector would put them into. Your gun (nice picture, BTW) was engraved shortly after manufacture and is undoubtedly more valuable than one with the original, unengraved, finish. But is a similar gun engraved 150 years after manufacture in the same category? If it is not, where does one draw the line? A month after production? A year? A decade? A century?

    Jim
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  4. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    They are simply "engraved guns." A skilled engraver can actually hide all manner of surface imperfections, and in addition, the guns are refinished.
    They are what they are.
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