The above Colt Single Action Army revolver was ordered as a gift for President Theodore Roosevelt’s 54th birthday. Factory engraved and silver-plated, it was shipped four days before his birthday, just over a week prior to the election of 1912 where he ran on the Bull Moose ticket, and 10 days prior to his famous assassination attempt in Milwaukee. It was lost to history for years.
Complete with Colt factory engraving by master Cuno Helfricht, this M1873 “Peacemaker” now ranks (at time of the auction) as the third-highest firearm ever offered by Rock Island Auction Company– and last week picked up $1.3 million smackers before the gavel ended a wild bidding war.
Sadly, I am sure it will disappear for a few years into a private collection, then resurface only to be sold for a higher bid, and this will be the closest that the public will ever get to it.
Gratefully, though, lots of TR’s hardware is well-preserved in various museum systems. For instance, I worked with Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and Springfield Armory last year to detail his specially-ordered M1903 (SN#0009), which is in their collection.
This week is the 161st birthday of the iconic sportsman, former assistant NAVSEC, short-term colonel and occasional statesman, Teddy Roosevelt. In honor of this event, I spent the past several months researching one of his guns, a custom M1903 Springfield that had been sporterized.
Roosevelt’s modified M1903, courtesy of the Sagamore Hill collection
However, it wasn’t some aftermarket bubba hack job on the rifle. This custom work was done at Springfield Armory during the M1903’s first year of production, under the close attention of the arsenal’s commanding colonel– with BG William Crozier acting as the go-between.
And TR took the rifle on several hunting trips ranging from Colorado to Africa.
“On the great bear hunt President Roosevelt after leaving Newcastle [Colorado] for the mountains 1905” — note the sporterized M1903, with its distinctive single barrel band and cut-down pistol grip stock.
More on the story of this interesting, and historical M1903, SN0009, in my column at Guns.com.
Hey, Mack, there is a screwdriver on the end of your Springer there…
Roosevelt, a conservationist and big game hunter who settled for being president after stints as New York City police commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy and an Army colonel in the Spanish American War knew a thing or three about firearms. Good guy Teddy even used one of the first suppressors built and marketed in the U.S. so that he could target practice at home without bugging the neighbors.
So when he saw what the Army ordnance guys at Springfield Armory came up with for the original design of the M1903 rifle, a flimsy screwdriver looking rod bayonet, he wasn’t impressed.
More in my column at Guns.com