Page 304 - 4090-BOOK2
P. 304

 LOT 1411
Documented, Historic, First Year Production, George Dallas Signed Engraved Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Pre-Model 29 Double Action Revolver Presented to Renowned Outdoorsman, Innovator, and Big Game Hunter Elmer Keith by Smith & Wesson President Carl Hellstrom with Elmer Keith Designed Bohlin Co. Holster and Factory Letter - Serial no. S161577, 44 Magnum cal., 4 inch solid bbl., blue finish, carved grips. Elmer Merrifield Keith (1899-1984) was many things; a rancher, cowboy, big game hunter, prolific writer, shooting sports legend, and innovator in the world of magnum cartridges, responsible for the development of the iconic .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .41 Magnum cartridges. During WWII, Keith was an inspector at the Ogden Arsenal and by the 1950s was a full time writer, serving on the staff of The Outdoorsman, The American Rifleman, Western Sportsman, Guns, and Guns and Ammo. He published several books including “Sixgun Cartridges and Loads,”“Big Game Rifles and Cartridges”, “Sixguns” and “Hell, I was There.” In 1934, Douglas Wesson of Smith & Wesson teamed up with Phil Sharpe and Keith to develop a new cartridge to compete with Colt’s .38 Super Automatic. Taking full advantage of stronger revolver frames available by the 1920s, such as this Outdoorsman, Keith was instrumental in handloading a .38 Special cartridge far beyond its accepted limits. The result was the .357 Magnum, which was first introduced on the S&W Registered .357 Magnum Revolver, the most powerful handgun at the time. The high velocity cartridge quickly became a favorite caliber for law enforcement and a new breed of big game handgun hunters. The .357 is generally credited for starting the “Magnum Era,” a period of time when larger calibers dominated the firearms market. In fact, Roy Jinks credited Keith as “the father of big bore handgunning.” Keith went on to develop the .44 Magnum and .41 Magnum.
The development of the .44 Magnum started as a joint venture between Smith & Wesson and Remington Arms Co. with Keith being the most outspoken advocate for such a big bore handgun cartridge. A firsthand account of his involvement in the development of the .44 Magnum is told by Keith in his autobiography “Hell, I was There!” starting on page 197. The dimensions for the then new .44 Magnum cartridge were finalized in 1954, and production of the “Most Powerful Handgun in the World,” the S&W .44 Magnum (Pre-29) Revolver, was introduced to the public in January 1956. The first production example serial no. S130942 was shipped to Julian Hatcher of the NRA. The fourth production revolver no. S147220 went to Elmer Keith. This is a later, but still first year production, S&W Pre-Model 29 that was presented to Keith by his friend and S&W President Carl Hellstrom who was encouraged by Keith to develop a revolver capable of loading the .44 Magnum. Per the included factory letter, this revolver with a 4 inch barrel, red ramp front sight, white outline rear sight, target hammer, target trigger, blue finish, and checkered Goncalo Alves target grips was shipped at no charge on November 16, 1956, to Elmer Keith, Salmon, Idaho. The engraving by George Dallas and carved presentation grips were added after the revolver left the factory. The included copy of the S&W invoice for this revolver also confirms the revolver was shipped to Keith. Finally, a copy of a page out of Keith’s gun collection ledger lists this gun by serial number with matching description as part of his collection, leaving no doubt that Elmer Keith owned this revolver. Two accompanying photos of Keith show him holding short barreled S&W Magnum revolvers. The first comes from an excerpt of an article written by Keith. This image shows Keith shooting a .44 Magnum and was the same image he used to head his monthly “Gun Notes” column for years. The second image is from an article written by Keith in the October 1959 issue of The American Legion Magazine. In this photo Keith holds two .44 Magnums. One of those pictured handguns may well be this revolver. In January 1969, Keith confirmed he had “four S&W .44 mags” and admitted, “I’d rather have my .44 mag and my loads on elk in the timber at close to reasonable range than any .30 caliber rifle.
Elmer Keith

   302   303   304   305   306