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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am brand new to this forum, seeking information and assistance in establishing value of an interesting revolver that I have been researching, and may end up purchasing.

A friend of mine, born in the 1920s, has owned the revolver shown in the photos below for "about 50 years." The owner doesn't have much use for computers, but with his consent I have been doing some research on this revolver, but there are still major gaps.

The revolver is a Smith & Wesson M&P Fourth Change target revolver, 6-inch, SN 2911XX. It is in excellent condition -- I would say 98 percent. It does not appear to me to have been fired much. The bore appears excellent.

There is an inscription on the right sideplate, which you should be able to see clearly one of the photos. The inscription reads as follows:

Presented by YMCA
to
Orton B. Stauffer
306th Engineers
US Pistol Team
Inter-Allied Match
France 1919

S&W historian Roy Jinks tells me that this revolver was part of a shipment that went to the Springfield Armory in June, 1919. He said that the inscription was definitely NOT done at the S&W factory (note that the inscription is cut through the bluing, whereas S&W engraved guns and then finished them).

The historian at the Springfield Armory Museum told me that such an inscription was definitely NOT done at the Springfield Armory during that era (although some engraving was done there during the 19th century). He said that in 1919, with respect to firearms supplied under contract from private companies such as S&W, the Armory merely served as a way station for firearms on their way to their final destination.

I also confirmed, from documents available on the internet, the following information: First Lt. Orton B. Stauffer of the 306th Engineers won a silver medal in pistol competition at the Allied Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) match in France in May, 1917. It appears that many of the American service members who did well at that event were placed on an American team to participate in a much bigger international event, the Inter-Allied Match, which was organized by General Pershing in collaboration with the YMCA, which was held June 22-July 5, 1919, at "Pershing Stadium" -- constructed especially for the event -- in Paris. At that time, it appears, the YMCA was big into supporting shooting, at least military shooting (how times have changed). It is therefore very plausible that the YMCA presented the U.S. team members with revolvers for use in the Inter-Allied Match.

I confirmed that Lt. Stauffer was on the U.S. team at the Inter-Allied Match. I didn't find evidence that he won any individual medal there, but the U.S. team apparently did very well, winning what has become known as the "Pershing Trophy," which since then has been presented to the annual winner of a military rifle competition called the National Trophy Team Match.

I also found documentation that Stauffer remained in the Army at least as late as 1935, at which time he was a captain supervising Civilian Conservation Corps camps. My amateur investigations found no evidence that he ever made any mark in the world of competitive shooting subsequent to the 1919 Inter-Allied Match, but I'm sure my research on this point was far from comprehensive.

I found a Springfield Armory Museum page that contains interesting information about a special order by the Army of a later shipment of 50 M&P revolvers (serial range 386XXX), for the 1920 Olympic games. The revolvers, as described, were similar to the revolver that I am researching. This page quotes Captain Oliver F. Snyder, Ordnance Department, as saying, "This was the revolver used by the A.E.F. Pistol Team last year, and it has fully demonstrated its superiority over all existing models." The page is here: Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record,
(Note, however, that Stauffer was NOT on the Olympic team, as far as I can tell.)

I found a thread on the forum "The High Road," in which a poster calling himself "Jim K" listed various groups of unusual M&Ps, including: "291000 range 1919 (Army for A.E.F. 50 guns for inter-allied pistol competition)." I don't know who "Jim K" is and I have not yet attempted to contact him to ask the source of this information, but it is consistent with the inscription on the revolver.

That about exhausts the information that I've gathered on this revolver so far. At this point, the biggest single question in my mind is about the inscription itself. I am wondering if the entire batch of revolvers was inscribed for the team members in the same fashion, presumably at the request of the YMCA, and if so, who did the inscription? In the alternative, it is possible that Lt. Stauffer himself hired a jeweler or someone else to inscribe this one particular gun, or that somebody else did so before the gun was given to him, or even years later. I would be very interested in hearing from any collector who has another revolver from this batch, or from anyone who might recognize the inscription "style" as indicating a certain origin.

Any other suggestions for reconstructing the history of this revolver would also be appreciated, and establishing its current value, would be much appreciated. I would be happy to receive comments or questions in his thread or by email, however you feel most comfortable.

(Note: I apologize that I did not notice and remove the pistol-rug fuzz in the chambers before I took the photo below.)

Douglas Johnson
Smith & Wesson Collectors Association No. 2404
 

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Historic Firearm: Priceless
$2,100
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Correction to my original post: The official name of the event was "Inter-Allied Games," although in some documents I've seen it was referred to as "Inter-Allied Matches" (not "Match"). The inscription on the revolver reads "Inter-Allied Matches."
 

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At one point I compiled from several sources a list of S&W M&P serial numbers with a view to trying to date individual Fourth Change guns to something closer than 1915-1942. In Pate's U.S. Handguns of World War II, Page 85, under 1919 is this: "...the [50] weapons (in the 291,000 range) were shipped on June 3, 1919, by courier to a New Jersey pier for transport to the American Expeditionary Force. The purchase was for use at the interallied pistol competition. The Army won the match. The configuration was not stated in the correspondence, but the factory published an ad on the competition that shows them to be of the same configuration as described in the 1920 order on page 87."

That page describes the shipment of 50 guns for the 1920 Olympic Games and describes them as "...M&P models, blued finish, in square butt with 6" barrels... regular target sights on two of them...on the other 48, a broad front sight (Patridge) and a non-target broad rear sight notch were provided... cost was $31.60 each."

Pate then quotes Capt. Snyder in the same statement the OP did.

FWIW, I see no reason to doubt that the revolver you have is from those matches and is genune.

HTH

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
At one point I compiled from several sources a list of S&W M&P serial numbers with a view to trying to date individual Fourth Change guns to something closer than 1915-1942. In Pate's U.S. Handguns of World War II, Page 85, under 1919 is this: "...the [50] weapons (in the 291,000 range) were shipped on June 3, 1919, by courier to a New Jersey pier for transport to the American Expeditionary Force. The purchase was for use at the interallied pistol competition. The Army won the match. The configuration was not stated in the correspondence, but the factory published an ad on the competition that shows them to be of the same configuration as described in the 1920 order on page 87."
Jim K, thank you for this extremely helpful information. I do not have Mr. Pate's book, but I will try to obtain it. I'd love to see "the correspondence" to which he refers. But even more, I'd love to obtain an image of the "ad on the [Inter-Allied Games] competition," depicting the configuration of this revolver, that was issued by Smith & Wesson. Does anybody have any ideas on where I might find an image of this advertisement?

Jim K, your knowledge of vintage M&P revolvers is obviously extensive. Would you care to hazard an estimate on the current market value of the specimen I've posted the photos of?

Douglas Johnson
 

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He does show a copy of the ad, but I assume the correspondence is in the S&W archives. I strongly recommend the book not only for a lot of info on S&W, pre-war and wartime, but for the into on U.S. guns (other than the M1911/A1 pistol) used by the military before and during WWII. That includes not only S&W and Colt, but such surprises as the .32 H&R auto pistol reportedly used in silencer experiments by the OSS.

I deliberately didn't make a guess on value. The trouble is that such guns don't often bring a lot of money unless the person in question was, then or later, very well known. (Now had the gun been presented to one George S. Patton ....) You have obviously done a lot of research already, so might I suggest you get as much as you can find, and if it not too far, make arrangements to get into the S&W archives and the National Archives in DC, get info on Lt. Stauffer from the Army archives (by internet). Contact with the Lieutenant's family might add a nice touch.

Then do an article for The Arms Collector or the American Rifleman on those matches and that revolver.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
He does show a copy of the ad, but I assume the correspondence is in the S&W archives. I strongly recommend the book not only for a lot of info on S&W, pre-war and wartime, but for the into on U.S. guns (other than the M1911/A1 pistol) used by the military before and during WWII. Jim
I will certainly track down a copy of the Pate book. But in the meantime, do you have the capacity to scan the single page with the S&W ad on it, and email it to me? Or, if this is not convenient, to xerox that page and either mail or fax it to me? This would be extremely helpful in advancing this little project of mine. Thank you for your consideration.

Unfortunately, I am not able to send you Personal Messages via this forum because I have not yet achieved the 15-post minimum requirement to use that tool. But I can receive e-mail at ddeanjohnson > at < gmail //dot// com

Cordially,

Doug

Douglas Johnson
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Someone else just sent me a message that the Pate book also contains a photograph of the Army team at the Inter-Allied Games. Needless to say, I am also eager to get my hands on that image.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Junk King,

Thank you for posting that photo. I had not seen it before. I have so far encountered only one other photo of Stauffer, which appeared in a "Pictorial Review" published by a Civilian Conservation Corps company in Utah in 1933. Here it is:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here is a scan of the photo, credited to the National Archives, of the U.S. pistol team at the Inter-Allied Games, with the trophy. I believe that Lt. Stauffer is the third man from the left.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I wonder where the trophy is? West Point? An Army museum? It might be interesting to find out.

Jim
The trophy -- the gold cup shown in the 1919 photo above -- has been presented each year, beginning in 1920, to the winning team in the National Trophy Pistol Team Match, an annual military competition. The trophy is now mounted on an ebony base, to which are affixed metal plates containing the names of the winning team for each year. See
http://www.odcmp.com/NM/Trophies/PT_Gold_Cup.htm

Douglas Johnson
 

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