About ten years ago I ran across a rather interesting revolver - a S&W Model 544. I'd never heard of it before, but I bought it because: 1) It was an N-frame; 2) It had a 5" barrel (a favorite of mine); 3) It was chambered in a caliber that started with a "4"; and finally 5) I couldn't pass up the price. This was the gun only, but that was fine by me as I bought it as a shooter.
The 544 is the Texas Wagon Train and Sesquicentennial (1836 to 1986) Commemorative. There were approximately 4800 of them manufactured. This gun was significant not just because of the events commemorated, or the not common barrel length, but also because of the caliber: .44 Winchester Center Fire (WCF), better known by its black powder appellation the .44-40 (.44 being the nominal bullet diameter - actual .427" - and the 40 standing for the standard loading of 40 grains of black powder. This is the first, and AFAIK only, post-war gun made by S&W in that caliber.
As I did my research, I found out that these came with a nice basswood case with a detailed inscription on the lid. Again - of little matter to me as I intended to shoot it and paid a "shooter" price for the gun. I think it made it to the range once, and then back into the safe.
In my new incarnation as a S&W collector, all of a sudden that case, or more to the point the lack of the case, became important to me. Most collectors will tell you that generally commemorative guns usually are not more valuable than the non-commemorative counterparts - so when I buy a commemorative I look to pick it up for the same money or less, than I would if it weren't a commemorative. There is no non-commemorative counterpart to the 544 and it generally brings a little more than a regular N-frame, in any standard caliber, when it is complete with the presentation case.
So off I go in search of the correct presentation case. I found one on eBay. It had some scuff marks and scratches, but beggars can't be choosers. The problem was the seller wanted stupid money for it, but there was a "make an offer" option - which I did, based on what the standard S&W mahogany presentation cases were selling for. The offer was declined. I waited a month or so (this had already been listed for about 4 months - you'd think the seller would have had a clue) and went back and sweetened the deal a little. This offer was also declined. I thought I'd let them stew for a while.
Last week I checked to see if it was still for sale - it was, and at the same stupid money. But lo and behold, there was another one listed, and this one was in pristine condition. It was also overpriced, but not to the degree the first one was, and it, too, had a "make an offer" option. So I did - a little higher than what I had offered on the other case, but this one was in much better condition. My offer was declined. This time I contacted the seller and asked them how big they thought their market was for a case that was made for a very specific gun and which originally came with that gun. Also pointed out what you could buy a regular S&W presentation case for, which was not restricted to a particular gun. Within two minutes of my sending the message, he accepted my offer. LOL.
Without further delay, here is the case...
and here it is with the 544 ensconced...
Have a happy fourth of July.
ADDENDUM: The above was the resolution of the "gun with no case" dilemma, but I have another, not so easy dilemma - that is the "case without a gun". I am looking for a 1981 S&W 629-1 Iditarod Commemorative revolver - just the gun. If you should run across one in your travels, PM me here. Thanks folks.