One of the most notorious and influential presidents in our country’s history, Theodore Roosevelt’s accolades would take annals to document. An avid outdoorsman, hunter, politician, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and more, Roosevelt carved a name for himself in history. Not to mention on the side of a mountain. However, almost as famous as the man himself among firearm collectors was Theodore Roosevelt’s revolver, a Smith & Wesson No. 3, which just fetched nearly $1 million at auction.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Smith & Wesson Revolver
As the Spanish-American War was beginning, Roosevelt resigned from his post as Assistant Secretary to the Navy. He did this in order to form the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment along with Army Colonel Leonard Wood and join the fight. The unit was referred to as the “Rough Riders” by the press and would be remembered best for its charge up Kettle Hill in Cuba.
Following his swearing-in as lieutenant colonel in the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry on May 6th, 1898, Roosevelt ordered the Smith & Wesson No. 3. Chambered in .38 Long Colt, the standard U.S. service cartridge, he intended to carry the revolver into battle.
On May 12, 1898, the same day Roosevelt left for San Antonio, this New Model No. 3 was shipped to him from the Smith & Wesson factory. This was also the day of the Bombardment of San Juan. Unfortunately, the revolver did not make it to Roosevelt in time, and he was unable to carry it into battle. However, this led to its immaculate condition today.
Details of the Smith & Wesson No. 3 Revolver
One of the most iconic Smith & Wesson firearms in existence, the revolver features a 6.5-inch solid rib barrel. Requested specifically by Roosevelt himself, it is one of the very few in existence chambered in .38 Long Colt. Many believe this is because he intended to carry it into battle.
A hand-checkered walnut grip provides the interface between man and steel and beautifully highlights the gun’s tasteful accents. Sitting atop the barrel, a pinned rounded blade front sight couples with a notch rear target sight. Running along the top rib are the words “+SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD, MASS. U.S.A.+.” Likewise, matching serial numbers are on the barrel, latch, cylinder, butt, and inside the right grip.
With a blued finish, the revolver features factory engraving by the Youngs and has beaded backgrounds on the barrel, cylinder, and frame. The firearm fit beautifully into Roosevelt’s collection of other engraved firearms, which he had a penchant for. Because of this, there is a belief that Gustave Young might have done the engraving himself.
Included in the auction was an early 20th-century Rock Island Arsenal brown leather holster for a Colt double-action service revolver. The holster features an “E.H.S.” inspector mark below the arsenal marking on the flap. Additionally, “US” is embossed on the body. These holsters were designed for the Colt Model 1892 and subsequent double-action revolvers. A Model 1892 was carried by Roosevelt in the Battle of San Juan Hill and was recovered from the USS Maine.
The estimated price of this auction was $800,000 – $1,400,000. However, the final realized price was $910,625.
A previous auction of Roosevelt’s Colt Single Action Army Revolver two years ago brought in $1.4 million.