This is the world's first commercially successful cartridge gun; the Smith and Wesson Model One Revolver which was introduced in 1857. Standard seven-shot revolver in .22 rimfire short with 3-3/16" barrel. When new, these came standard with a two-tone finish...silver-plated brass frame, and blued barrel/cylinder with varnished rosewood grips. Smith and Wesson designed this gun around the 1855 Rollin White Patent for a Bored Through Cylinder. Control of the White patent gave Smith and Wesson basically a fourteen-year monopoly and head start on the manufacture of cartridge revolvers. This lasted into the early 1870's when Congress failed to renew the patent, resulting in an avalanche of cartridge revolvers appearing on the American market. Because of its small size, it's rather easy to overlook Smith and Wesson's first revolver, but did you know that virtually every modern weapon produced today can trace its roots back to the little Model One? Of the 11,600 Model Ones produced, there are six variations mainly dealing with improvement to the barrel latch, cylinder ratchet, and rifling. This one is the most common variant, a Type 6, which has an improved barrel latch, cylinder ratchet, and five groove rifling. Serial number is in the 8,600 range. Made circa 1859 and predates the Civil War. It was found by a collector friend of ours in Virginia.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Very Good Condition with 40% original silver plating remaining on the brass frame and gripstraps. The barrel has aged to a mostly dark brown patina with traces of original blue around the barrel latch and under the barrel rib. Top of barrel rib has a good legible Smith and Wesson address. Cylinder has turned dark brown with about half of the tiny patent dates that run around the circumference still legible. 100% all matching numbers and assembly numbers. Very Good original rosewood grips show just traces of varnish remaining but are solid with nice wood-to-metal fit. Mechanically, these early S&W's are like 150-year-old watches...they have fragile springs and almost always need adjustment. We are fortunate enough to have a gunsmith who's an expert on early S&W's and he gave this revolver a complete tuneup. It now cycles and locks up perfectly. Good bore with no rings or bulges. A rare chance to buy one of the world's most historically important and significant early cartridge weapons.
Note: This weapon was designed over 150 years ago to fire a .22 rimfire cartridge that was lightly loaded with black powder. Due to the nature of its delicate hinge, thin-walled cylinder, and brass frame, this revolver cannot sustain the pressures associated with modern smokeless ammunition from the 20th and 21st centuries. Over the years, we have seen a number of these rare and historically important weapons destroyed by owners who attempted to fire these with standard ammunition. This is being sold as a antique collectible only!