S&W 32 long HE mod 1903 circa 1910 engraving style?

nix

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Well worn, used to be blue, combined w/some previous owner apparently using the heavy hand of sandpaper as a cleaner. Knowing very little I ask if any might be familiar w/this style of engraving.

On the Trade Mark pic at 4:30 there's a collar that appears as a dinner napkin ring on the floral vine. I tend to lean towards that move being continued on other pieces.

Over on the right the side plate engraving extends under the cylinder where many have left this area blank.
The scroll & floral somewhat different though in the same vein. Perhaps a clean palette unburdened by a S&W Trade Mark allowed for a bit of a different take.

On the hump, w/o appearing to read too much into the work, the first partial scroll looks a lot as the letter 'G' as compared to the more complete scroll opposite/beside. Perhaps it is merely from the canvas including the 90* hump w/limited space. If you follow the scroll from the inside they both move CW. Maybe that induces the 'G' in me.

I stacked three macro lens and included a bit of optical zoom to frame the pics. Then I cropped them.

Increasing the magnification showed me an inconsistency. The little round balls huddled together providing contrast/background are fairly consistent. [I call it grapeshot because as a rule they are seemingly stacked together.] Except around the Trade Mark. I see three single strikes, six in a single file, three forming a triangle among others. Not so much as an afterthought it would seem the work stopped there w/o being finished.

Any help in identifying the style would be appreciated. If nothing else enjoy the large pics of what is left from the ravages of time, owners and neglect coupled w/abuse.
 

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nix

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I can see your left/right analogy of the "napkin/trim ring, collar/donut" as a starting point. This piece being from 1910 is after the well known early S&W engravers of Gustav Young & Louis Daniel Nimschke. However, in looking at the L.D. Nimschke catalogue:
I seem to see an influence although the bulk of what I see are long arms. The S&W Hand Ejector, revolver w/swing out cylinder, started w/Model 1903.
----
Pardon me ignorance as I know not what a backbone in engraving entails.
--
 

wowilson

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You are right about the style is what was was done in the late 1800's. But it could really be from anytime after the manufacture of that gun, which is difficult to find because S&W serial numbers. Have you taken the grips off to look for a signature?
 

nix

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The only markings under the stocks are a small block '&' left side next to stock pin, on the right side, also next to stock pin, a small block 'B' for blued and a small block 'T' for whatever as it certainly isn't a target model.

Inside the frame next to the crane the assembly numbers match the ones stamped inside of the the side plate.

Other than rolled engraving on the barrel and cylinder, and pics I've provided, is one small engraving on the backstrap right at the butt.
 

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nix

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Roger, thank you so much for providing the information attributing Oscar Young as the engraver. What aspect of the work screamed Oscar?
Also, would you know the S&W pattern number or where I could view the various S&W patterns from that era?

I found the napkin ring on a model 1899. Once again around the Trade Mark, but it is on the right side.


 
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Roger Bleile

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To answer your first question, I have spent over forty years studying the work of gun engravers. For me, looking at the scrollwork of well established gun engravers is like an art expert who looks at a Vermeer and instantly knows who painted the work. Further I have a library of nearly every book ever published on the subject and a picture archive of over 20,000 images of engraved guns.

If you are really interested in this subject, I will recommend Smith & Wesson Engraving by Michael Kennelly from Mobray Publishing. Smith & Wesson Engraving by Kennelly - Mowbray Publishing (gunandswordcollector.com)

Also, beware of auction house engraver attributions. They are notoriously inaccurate, however, the one you posted is correct.

Offhand, I don't know the pattern number. That would require some research.
 

nix

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I never doubted your expertise. I merely thought that certain attributes of Oscar Young could be highlighted as reoccurring characteristics of his work.

Thanks for the tip on the Smith & Wesson Engraving by Michael Kennelly. My interest is in the one old neglected arm that I purchased years ago, but I will snoop around and perhaps find a deal on a used book. So far the used offerings are only a couple of bucks less than new. I'm sure due in part to the relatively recent release of the publication. I made an offer of 60 simoleons TTD for one preowned. We'll see.

Fakes and inaccurate misleading claims of authenticity abound. For S&W a letter from Mr. Jinks appears to be the gold standard. However, the possibility always exists that the same artist could engrave after the arm was shipped whether received from an individual or company. Besides, I feel the main reason for the letter is shoring up value for future sale(s). I'm not sure, under the rough condition of mine, if any additional value could be obtained.

After your conformation of the engraver, and finding a picture of an Oscar Young online that included the trim ring again in conjunction w/S&W trademark, I felt rewarded from my effort and more so from your contribution.

I'd like your take on the hump engraving. On the backstrap side there is a nice symmetric scroll. Yet, next to it seems to be the letter 'G'. It's not a tight spiral and the ends are different shapes. Would you care to speculate on my curiosity?

ETA: It isn't so much that I'm sold on the idea of a loose almost scroll/abutment against a tight scroll representing a character/letter as I am in justifying why it is there. Why, to me, that odd design instead of another tight scroll? If I call it a loose scroll why does it rotate CW from the center as the tight scroll? I would think it more harmonious if it rotated CCW. They each part from the backstrap side of the 90* hump, so not as if space or awkward lie played a role in decision.

I look at the detail of both the right and left sides of the revolver. With the exception, IMHO, of a few circular punches, I call grapeshot around the trademark, everything to me is tight with a nice flow.

The hump 'swirl' that appears to me to be a 'G' draws my eyes because it sticks out. It doesn't have the same flow. It is as if drawing attention on purpose.

As skilled an engraver as Oscar Young was this leaves me baffled on the hump engraving when included & compared with the two side engravings.

If I flop it over I can see an exaggerated '9'. With both scrolls CW it is easy for me to see GG/99.

Perhaps I'm attempting to read too much into the artistic expression.
 
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Roger Bleile

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"Perhaps I'm attempting to read too much into the artistic expression." I think that is what you are doing. The scrollwork on the "hump" seems consistent with OY's style.

On this and other Internet forums, scrollwork is frequently analyzed and critiqued to a degree heretofore unknown in Young's time. That is a good thing to move the art forward but but when talking about gun engraving from over a hundred years ago one should consider the way simple gun decoration was practiced and viewed at the time. Special presentation and exhibition pieces of earlier times were, however, another matter.
 

nix

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That makes sense and as I have but one example it is easy to question now, in search of an engraving answer/pattern, as opposed to practice 110 yrs ago.
I found another example credited to Gustave Young of a 2nd mod DA .32 produced 1880-1882. However various upgrades/models were continued into the 20th century.
No letter, so no shipping timeline save at least 1880.

By my ciphering Oscar would have been around 26 yrs of age about seven yrs shy of the start of his 22yr employment w/S&W ending in 1911 w/his demise in 1812. My revolver would be an example of his later yrs.

Here I found my napkin ring on both sides of the barrel. Along w/very similar round punch, contained inside of closed area and 1-4 punches on the outside edge of the two main engravings.

Yet the small engraving, right side above trigger/below cylinder, has a cluster of 8 as if grapes hanging combined w/2 single punches and a 4 punch pattern. Left side incorporates 9. Of course just when I think I see a set pattern I look at the main body on the left I see 9 punches on the bottom outside of a closed area w/rest 1 or 4.

I wonder if the master engravers ever used other workers of less experience to add the punch circles.

The gent accepted my offer on the book. Thanks again for sharing that and other information. I look forward to the book arriving.

ETA: I can see where the vast majority of engraving would be the base model up to around 1/2-3/4 coverage. Offered as a #1, 2, 3, 4, etcetera designating a particular style along w/amount of coverage. Hand etched Vs. rolled or perhaps even a combination thereof.

I'd like a #3 w/extra scroll & double half moon circle punch please ...
 
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Roger Bleile

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"I wonder if the master engravers ever used other workers of less experience to add the punch circles." That was a common practice to use apprentices to do background punching and other less skilled tasks.

I'm sure you will enjoy the book. It is very well done with hundreds of excellent images of engraved Smith & Wessons.
 

nix

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Thanks again. The SCSW shows some pics of engraved revolvers and examples of #1-8. from a late 1880's catalogue. Albeit small containing painfully low resolution.
I presume the coverage is more or less the same in 1910.

What they do not divulge is the backstrap engravings at the bottom along w/what I refer unto as the hump of the backstrap.

My coverage could be #3 as it has engraving betwixt the trigger & cylinder Also the flat betwixt the cylinder and the nose of the hammer has a small bit. Mine, not being a top break, has a thumb latch separating the engraving .
However, the left side, only side shown, pattern of #2 is my style of scroll. Bit again in 1910.

I'd enjoy seeing the same examples of #2 & #3 on a .32 mod 1903. Maybe the engraving book will shed some light.
 

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