Historic S&W New Model No. 3 Single Action Revolver
With Archive Letter, Shipped to Pre-Spanish-American War Cuba
Here we present an antique Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 Single Action Revolver, shipped to Don José Vallero in Cuba on September 22, 1880, in a large order, per the factory archive letter. Almost certainly this order was placed by pro-Spanish forces during the Guerra Chiquita or “Little War” in Cuba. This conflict fell between the Ten Years War (1868-1878) and the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898), which ended with perhaps the war more commonly known to Americans as the Spanish-American War (1898). During the Little War, revolutionary forces were ill-equipped and unsupported by a population exhausted by the previous war. By one account, the Little War began as an uprising of slaves and farmers against the Spanish at Santiago de Cuba.
This specimen shows signs of being pressed into military service. The order included having lanyard rings being installed on the bottom of the grip frame. Just behind the grip is marked the number “498”, in all likelihood a rack number for a military unit. In fact, Spain’s military adopted this weapon in the .44 Russian chambering, and used it also in the Philippine Revolution, the Rif War and the Spanish Civil War. Not only did this revolver likely see action during the Little War, it probably saw use during the Cuban War of Independence and the Spanish-American War on the Spanish loyalist side. According to the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson by Supica and Nahas, after the Spanish-American War some of these guns were brought back and sold as surplus in the United States, noting that many were quite abused. This source also described those captured specimens as you see here, with lanyard rings and rack numbers, though this example is in much better condition than one would expect.
The overall condition is very good. The patina on the steel is a very uniform brown. Barrel legend and other markings remain clear and legible. The checkered walnut grips have certainly seen action, but are sound and give the revolver its proper “been there” look. All serial numbers match. The bore is in very good condition, surprisingly bright and shiny. The action is excellent.
Comes with the Smith & Wesson factory archive letter, embossed and signed on company letterhead, stating this item’s authenticity.
A little bit more: S&W revolvers then as now are some of the finest in the world. Excellently machined, well-proportioned and accurate, it is no wonder why so many records of the era were set with this revolver. Notable shooters and owners include Buffalo Bill Cody, Ira Anson Paine, F.E. Bennett, Annie Oakley, Frank Butler and Theodore Roosevelt.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction. Here is a S&W with the letter and the history. Have the Spanish-American War Krag? Get the revolver that fired back.
Barrel is 6-1/2 inches in length.
Caliber: .44 Russian
The bore is in very good condition and the firing mechanism is excellent.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
Here is a glimpse into the past when U.S. and Cuban relations would take shape for the next 130 years.
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