This is a very respectable example of a S&W Model One, Third Issue Revolver with a low serial number. The Third Issue was the final version of Model Number One Revolver in .22 caliber...the very first S&W revolver ever built. The First Issue was produced from 1857-1860, the Second Issue 1860-1868, and the Third Issue 1868-1881. The main difference with the Third Issue from its predecessors is its distinctive streamlined appearance. The barrel was redesigned from octagon to round barrel, cylinders were fluted, and the squared saw-handle grips were changed to rounded birdshead grips. The standard silver plated frames with blued barrels and cylinders found on the 1st and 2nd Issues transitioned to a more monotone blued or nickel finish for the 3rd Issue. Also not that while the mechanics are the same on the 3rd Issue, Smith and Wesson added checkering to the barrel latches the spur trigger.
This particular revolver has a very low serial number in the 1,200 range. The reason for such a low number on a 3rd version deserves an explanation. In 1857, S&W's First Issue started at 1 and ran up to approximately 11,671 with the Second Issues continuing consecutively from the 11,000 range in 1860 up to 128,000 by 1868. By the time the Third issue was introduced that same year, rather than continue on with a serial range that was already in six digits, S&W most likely decided to save some effort and begin afresh at serial #1 again..."a rollover of the odometer" so to speak. Thus, the low serial number on this gun which would most likely date it to the first year of production in 1868. Over 131,000 3rd Issues had been produced when Smith and Wesson halted production in 1881, making it the last revolver S&W produced with the tip-up barrel design.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Fine with 25-30% original blue remaining on the barrel, cylinder, and frame. The hammer retains 50% of its original case colors while the ejector rod shows 90% of its original colors. The original rosewood grips show some light handling marks but remain in Fine condition overall with 93% of its original glossy varnish remaining. Nice mechanics. Fine bore that is mostly bright with sharp rifling. Nice example of an early 3rd Issue.
IMPORTANT: THE AMMUNITION DESIGNED FOR THIS REVOLVER DEVELOPED CONSIDERABLY LESS POWER THAN THE 22 RF SHORT (CARTRIDGE) AS WE KNOW IT TODAY. AS ORIGINALLY ISSUED THE CARTRIDGE WAS CALLED THE "NO. 1 PISTOL CARTRIDGE. MODERN AMMUNITION MAY NOT BE USED IN ANY OF THE THREE MODEL NO. 1'S AS THE PRESSURES DEVELOPED ARE MUCH TOO HIGH. pg. 22, Smith & Wesson 1857-1945 by Robert J. Neal and Roy G. Jinks. Copyright 1966 and 1975.