This is a nice pair of Smith & Wesson Model One Revolvers that date to the beginning of the Civil War. Many of these early guns were purchased by civilians and soldiers alike. Being the first cartridge revolver to be manufactured in the United States and protected by the Rollin White patent, these little seven-shot revolvers proved to be reliable and easy to load. With the advent of fixed ammunition, another great benefit was that they were practically waterproof. However, they were not without their shortcomings, especially where power and accuracy were concerned. Mark Twain was a proud owner of one of these little guns and summed it up perfectly in Roughing It:
My brother had a Coltís Navy revolver, which he carried uncapped for safety. Mister Beemis had an Allen pepper-box revolver. And I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith and Wesson seven-shooter, which shot a ball the size of a homeopathic pill. It took all seven to make a dose for an adult.
Both of these guns are early 2nd Models in the 14,000 range with serial numbers exactly 30 digits apart: serials 14,736 and 14,766. Kind of neat when you consider there were over 117,000 2nd Issues produced from 1860-68. These are both good low numbers for 2nd Issues as the First Model First Issue S&W's shared the same serial range until production switched to the 2nd Issue around the 11,600 mark. Both of these guns have the early style cylinder markings with only the 1855 and 1859 patent dates.
Item #1179: Serial Number 14,766 is somewhat special, being the less commonly seen deluxe version. For every couple hundred standard guns, you might find only one or two with a factory original full silver plated finish and/or ivory grips. Note how the grips perfectly fit with the S&W escutcheons and are numbered to the gun. If you look closely at the photos, based on the material, you will see there is a notable difference between the way the Smith and Wesson factory numbered their grips. Note how they boldly stamped the serial number into the rosewood while carefully writing the number by hand on the inside of the more fragile ivory grips. This seems to have been standard procedure for Smith and Wesson as we've seen the same style of hand-written numbers on other S&W's with ivories. Check out the following links to a couple of No. One, first and second issues we've sold in years past that share the same style grip marking as number 14,766:
Overall condition is NRA Antique Fine with 85-90% original silver plating, with some bubbling and flaking. The majority of areas where the silver has flaked is on the iron components, particularly around the firing interfaces of the barrel and cylinder. The brass frame shows nearly all its original silver plate with losses confined to just the edges. Ivory grips are very solid with a nice yellow patina. No chips, repairs, or cracks aside from a small check off the edge of the right panel's German silver escutcheon. Action works nicely with a good bore. Note: These are not safe to shoot with modern ammunition. Sold as an antique collectible only.
Item #1189: Serial Number 14,736 is a standard model with silver plated brass frame and blued barrel and cylinder. Overall, it's in NRA Antique Fine+ condition with 97% original silver plating on the frame. Octagon barrel shows 65% original blue that stretches across the entire surface but is toning slightly brown on the more exposed flats. Cartridge ejector rod still shows nearly all its original blue. Cylinder is really strong with 85% bright blue. Note how bright the blue is on these early S&W cylinders...almost an electric fire blue in comparison to the darker blue used on the barrels. Rosewood grips are in Very Good condition with 95% of the original varnish intact. Just showing numerous light handling marks and some tap marks on the butt...otherwise, it would grade Fine to Excellent. No chips, cracks, or repairs. Action is in good working order with a good bore. Note: This is not safe to shoot with modern ammunition. Sold as an antique collectible only.