Original U.S. Smith & Wesson Model 1 1/2 1st Issue Revolver in .32 Rimfire with Factory Letter & 3 1/2" Barrel - Serial 24327
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an American classic, first introduced in 1865 and produced continuously until 1892. The Smith & Wesson Model 1 1/2 was Smith & Wesson's second .32 caliber revolver, intended to combine the small size and convenience of the .22 caliber Model 1 with the larger caliber of the 6-shot "belt sized" Model 2, which was introduced in 1860. Chambered in .32 cal, its cylinder held 5 shots. It was produced in three varieties, termed "issues" by S&W, with total production exceeding 223,000.
The First Issue Model 1 1/2 had a smooth cylinder and a non-fluted barrel, as well as a flat bottomed "square" grip. Models were available in blued or nickel-plated finishes, and the majority were produced with 3 1/2 -inch barrels. A less common 4-inch barrel variety was also sold. Chambered for .32 rimfire ammunition, approximately 26,000 were produced. The later second issue of the Model 1 1/2 can be identified by its fluted cylinder and barrel, as well as the rounded "birds head" shape of the grip butt.
As a real treat, we have a letter on official SMITH & WESSON LETTERHEAD, giving research information about this revolver. We were not even aware that letters as these were obtainable, and it is only the second example that we have ever seen. Dated February 16, 1990, it bears the signature of Roy G. Jinks, the Smith & Wesson historian, stamped with a S&W Raised seal. The letter contains background information on the "Old Model 1 1/2", also known as the "Model 1 1/2 First Issue".
The letter indicates that 26,300 were made, placing this example near the end of the production run. The letter goes on to say that "company records [...] indicate that your handgun, with serial number 24327, was shipped from our factory in 1868 and sold through J. W. Storrs of New York City." This company was a large wholesaler in NYC that was at the time Smith & Wessons sole agent in that market.
This is a fantastic example of the Model 1 1/2, 1st Issue Revolver with 3 1/2" barrel, with the standard blued finish and finished rosewood grips. Produced by Smith and Wesson from 1865-1868, this was the firm's first iteration of the .32 rimfire tip-up, a more utilitarian design that the later 2nd issue. The original Smith & Wesson address and patent dates are still easily readable on the top strap:
SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS.
PAT.D. APR.3. JULY 5.1859. & NOV. 21.1865.
1st Issue guns were serial numbered sequentially, with numbers ranging from 1 to approximately 26,300. Serial number on this example is 24327 placing it at the end of production in 1868. This number is found on the bottom of the grip, as well as on the inside of the right grip scale. There is also assembly number 119 on the grip frame, rear of the barrel, and front side of the cylinder. That means that this is a fantastic "ALL MATCHING" example, with no parts swapped out over the years.
Overall condition is very good, still showing much of the original bluing on the rear frame, and even on the cylinder! There finish is worn on the barrel, except in the protected areas. Most 1 1/2's lack much original blue across the barrel and cylinders. This is either due to heat expansion from firing which caused the blue to flake or uncleaned fingerprints from the owner grabbing hold of the barrel to tip-up and reload the cylinder.
The rosewood grips are in very good shape, retaining almost all of the original "piano varnish" finish, with just a bit lost on the sides and bottom. Very good screws and pins throughout. Barrel is nice and tight to the frame, and the action functions almost flawlessly. The only issue we noticed is that if the hammer is pulled back very fast, the cylinder stop may not engage in time, and the cylinder can over rotate.
The bore is in great shape, with a mostly bright finish and crisp lands and grooves. The original machining marks can be seen, and there is just a bit of oxidation speckling in areas. The revolver breaks open easily for reloading, with the hammer releasing the cylinder. The frame latch can stick a bit if pressed in all the way at times.
A great example of a classic rimfire revolver, complete with an original factory letter and ready to display!
Years of Manufacture: circa 1868
Ammunition Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 3 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 7 1/2 inches
Feed System: 5 Shot Revolver
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