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Pizza Bob

S&W Commemorative Revolvers (Very Long - but nice pictures)

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I think that most of us realize commemorative firearms aren’t the instant collectible that some people feel they are. In fact, often times the commemorative firearms sell for less than the non-commemorative counterparts – if there is one. Not always true, but if you choose wisely you can end up with a fancy shooter, or a gun that actually does appreciate faster than its non-commemorative counterparts.

I crossed the line from being just a purchaser and user of firearms to being a collector in the early part of last year. I came to that realization when I found myself buying guns that I just liked, but had little to no intention of ever shooting, and I’ve been making up for lost time ever since.

My first commemorative was purchased solely as a shooter and because the price was more than right. It was a Texas Wagon Train / Texas Sesquicentennial commemorative – a 5” N-frame in .44-40. I like N-frames, especially those with 5” barrels and like calibers that start with a “4”. I got this gun for a song and it was the gun only, no nifty presentation case. It had terrific stocks on it, which I promptly removed and replaced with a Hogue wooden monogrip. I did shoot it some, but it ultimately ended up back in the safe.

When I made the transition to collector, I reinstalled the presentation stocks and found the correct case on the Internet. Even piecing it together like that I’m in it for about half of the current going rate. Here it is…

Texas-544.jpg

 

My next commemorative purchase was a PASP Model 19-4 – not because I had any affiliation with the PASP (except for a handful of speeding tickets), but because the price was better than I could find on a 4” non-commemorative 19-4. I could keep it as a shooter or as a bargain collectible. Here it is…

19-PASP.jpg

 

Somewhere along the way I became enamored with the Heritage series of guns. I purchased several of the Lew Horton Heritage Series, but then found one that was made for Sports South. It did not come in the correct PC aluminum case – instead, it was shipped in a presentation case meant for another firearm – a 1988 Model 629-1 Iditarod Commemorative. I started doing some research on that issue and found that while the case, and even the barrel, said that 1000 of these guns were made, in actuality, the bank failed before the entire thousand gun contract was completed. In fact only 545 of these were made. I endeavored to find a gun only to go with the case that serendipitously came to me.

When it rains it pours – I didn’t find a lone gun sans case, I found two consecutively numbered guns that came with everything – cases, boxes, docs, tools, everything. Again they were at a price about equivalent to what you would pay for a regular 629-1. So now I have two complete commemoratives and one extra presentation case.

Iditarod-A.jpg

 

The next commemorative came as a result of me exploring a major auction company. In my perusal of various on-line “for sale” and auction sites I had come across an Elmer Keith 29-3 commemorative. This was one of the regular issue ones with the wooden stocks and it was “spendy” – not outrageously so, considering the embellishments and who it honored. I was sorely tempted. A little further on in the listings I came across another Keith commemorative from the same vendor, only this was one of the Deluxe Additions (the first 100 of the 2500 made that had increased gold embellishments plus real, pre-ban, elephant ivory stocks. Pretty much as the SCSW IV states, they wanted double the amount they were asking for the standard edition. That was too rich for my blood.

So I was looking through the catalog of the major upcoming auction and they actually had three Elmer Keith editions – two standards and one deluxe sandwiched between the two. Somebody at that auction company goofed as they all had the same auction estimates. I put in an absentee bid at $100 over the high estimate for the deluxe version. I was watching the auction streaming on my computer. The first standard version came up and got hammered at $100 over high estimate. At that point I figured I was toast – somebody out there had to realize that the deluxe version was worth considerably more than the standard that had just fetched a good price.

The deluxe version came up and stalled and then got hammered at the high estimate – which meant that I had won it for $100 less than the standard version. I was ecstatic.

29-3-EMK0079-B.jpg

 

Full disclaimer, this was the gun only and did not have the original presentation case with it – it had gone missing in the intervening 35 years. Not to worry, I found a woodworker who specializes in presentation cases – at more than fair prices. We went back and forth on wood types, lining colors, descriptive plaques etc and he is currently in the process of building a fantastically figured, French-fitted, walnut presentation case with a proper descriptive brass plate on the lid. Even with the auction buyer’s premium, the next day air shipping and the bespoke presentation case, I am into this gun for less than half its value. Here is the gun, a 4” Model 29-3, .44 Magnum (as is befitting of the father of the .44 Magnum.

I’ll feature the gun and case in a future thread, once I receive the case – if anyone is in need of a presentation case I would be more than happy to put you in touch with this fellow.

This brings us to the current week (w/o 8/30). Frustrated by missing a two gun lot at the large auction company’s August sale, I was looking for something to buy. Much searching brought me to a S&W 150th Anniversary Commemorative Model 29-8, .44 Magnum (1852 – 2002). Like the Elmer Keith gun, this one had gold embellishment, including portraits of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson on the side plate. It was equipped with smooth Herrett (now out of business) stocks and came in a clear-topped, French-fitted presentation case. The funds for that gun are currently at the mercy of the USPS. Here is the seller’s picture of the gun and case…

29-8-150th-A.jpg

 

The acquisition of the 150th anniversary gun triggered a desire to acquire the previous anniversary issue, the issue for their 125th anniversary. I had passed on opportunities to purchase this gun many time is the past when I was shopping for “shooters”. Who wanted a .45 Colt with a short cylinder? The Model 25-3, while chambered for .45 Colt used a cylinder with the same length dimension as the .45 ACP Model 25-2. This meant that a lot of traditional, cast 250 grain bullet loads would be too long for the cylinder, unless crimped over the front driving band, rather than, properly, in the crimp groove.

Now it was destined to be a safe queen and a complement to the 150th anniversary gun. I went in search of a candidate. Found one, but missed it because I was trying to leverage a better deal. Found another and got it for an even better price. I make this sound like these are out there everywhere – such is not the case. Yes you can find them aplenty, but at exorbitant cost. The really neat thing – and it was totally happenstance, neither the seller nor I realized it (he still doesn’t) at the time of the transaction – is the serial number, First, it is the only time that I have ever seen a non-numeric or alphabetic character used in a serial number – the serial prefix for these guns is “S&W” followed by four numeric characters (these were appx four years before Smith went to their current three alpha / four numeric serial format). This gun was the twelfth gun made of the run of 9,948 standard editions (there were 50 Deluxe Editions and 2 Custom Deluxe Editions). These came with a presentation case that also held a commemorative coin and a book by Roy Jinks – the company historian, called 125 years with Smith and Wesson. The gun has custom gold-filled roll marks but not the fancy gold embellishments found on the Keith gun or the 150th anniversary gun. Here is the seller’s picture of the gun and case. Funds for this one were mailed this morning.

25-3-125th.jpg

 

I will be applying for a Multiple Purchase Exemption for the Keith gun and the two anniversary guns. Given the times we’re living in, I have no idea how long that will take, but if I do it within the OGAM framework, it would be mid-December before I had them all.

If you have managed to make it through this entire magnum opus, kudos to you. I hope you came away with an appreciation and better understanding of commemorative guns.

 Adios,

Pizza Bob

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20 hours ago, Pizza Bob said:

I will be applying for a Multiple Purchase Exemption for the Keith gun and the two anniversary guns. Given the times we’re living in, I have no idea how long that will take, but if I do it within the OGAM framework, it would be mid-December before I had them all.

If you have managed to make it through this entire magnum opus, kudos to you. I hope you came away with an appreciation and better understanding of commemorative guns.

 Adios,

Pizza Bob

Yes you have the soul of a collector. Great collection!

And fortunately there's no expiration date on a MPE..

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The hardest part about collecting commemoratives is wanting to shoot them.I have a Colt Cenntenial that is suppose to be one of the best shooters Colt made.

          S&W Performance Center didn't make too many of this barrel configuration of Schofield reissue in 2000.I bought it at auction and it appears to have been shot so I won't feel bad about shooting it.The way I see it is I might as well enjoy it,they were meant to go bang.The person who gets them after me can worry about how much they are worth.

20200905_233115.thumb.jpg.ac9b8973b2184b5a04957248375cc925.jpg

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On 9/14/2020 at 11:29 AM, charleslee said:

Very nice! I had the 50th Anniversary S&W Model 29 several yrs ago but sold it to finance something else. Kinda regret it but one day I’d like to replace it w/ a regular one albeit pre-lock. 

That would be the 150th - I don't think they made a commemorative in 1902. LOL

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Ahhh, I was talking S&W's anniversary, you were talking the Model 29's 50th anniversary..

Don't let the lock prevent you from purchasing guns you want.

Adios,

Pizza Bob

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Right, thank you sir.  Probably as a shooter, no big deal despite some documented failures caused by the “Hillary Lock.” But in a critical situation, not good. Plus it would be a collector piece so a pre lock would command more should I ever decide to sell. 

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