The Smith & Wesson Model 1 ½ Second Issue Revolver is one of The Met’s recent Smith & Wesson acquisitions. This acquisition is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Steve Maksin, Ronald S. Lauder, Alejandro Santo Domingo, and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger in 2021. More information on The Met’s acquisition can be found in the Fall 2022 edition of their Arms and Armour Newsletter.

Prior to The Met’s acquisition of the revolver, the weapon belonged to several owners and institutions. The weapon was originally delivered to the office of Horace Smith in 1869, but stored in the Smith & Wesson factory up until around the 1930s - 1950s. Afterwards, it belonged to Fred Miller, who acquired the weapon from a descendant of Horace Smith. In 1973, the revolver was sold to Roy G. Jinks for $3000, who held onto it before it was auctioned off by the Amoskeag Auction Company in 2021. The purchasers of the auctioned weapon (Maksin, Lauder, Santo Domingo and Sulzberger) subsequently donated it to The Met.

To view the historic revolver in person, you can see it on display at Gallery 72
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on 5th Avenue

Brief Description of the Smith & Wesson Model 1 ½ Second Issue
Revolver (serial no. 30451) with Original Case:

The 1 ½ Model Second Issue Revolver is an antique weapon that dates back to a group of similar revolvers issued in the late 1860s and 1870s. This select group of revolvers were exclusively designed, engraved and inlaid for celebrities, important company officials and heads of state. In fact, an almost identical pistol was gifted to General Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. The exact pistol gifted to Grant is now on display at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California.

The revolver on display at The Met is actually nearly identical in design to Grant’s revolver, indicating that they were likely inspired by one another.

The pistol, which is made of the highest quality steel, silver, gold, mother of pearl, brass, wood and velvet, was released in 1869. However, given that the revolver was fitted with dummy bullet rounds, it is clear that the weapon was never intended to be used in combat. Instead, this series of Smith & Wesson revolvers were specifically designed to be put on display.

The weapon displayed at The Met is stored in its original case and is one of the most well preserved models to have endured from the second half of the 19th century. On the top of the gun’s barrel, the following text is inscribed:


The text outlines several historical facts about the weapon.The first of which is that this revolver was first patented in April of 1855 before its release in 1865. The pistol itself was manufactured in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts which is the location of the historic Smith & Wesson factory.

The beautiful lace leaf pattern visible on the revolver was by the engraver Gustave Young, a Prussian-born American, who immigrated to the United States in 1853. In addition to working for Smith & Wesson, Young also worked for Colt, another leading American weapon manufacturer, as an engraver.


The revolver itself is a part of the Smith & Wesson Model 1 ½ series produced between 1865 and 1892. The .32 caliber revolver was released in 3 separate editions, amounting to a total production of 223,000 pistols. The aim of this pistol was to fuse the small shape of the .22 caliber Model 1 with the larger 6-shot caliber Model 2.

The second issue of the traditional Smith & Wesson Model 1 ½ was constructed with blued steel and nickel and is far more basic in design than the version up for display at The Met. Despite being the same edition of the same weapon, the two hardly resemble one another. Though Smith & Wesson did release engraved versions with ivory to the public, many of the pistols had very simple designs and looked like the one below.

Meanwhile, the Smith & Wesson Model 1 1/2 at The Met features velvet accents and delicate gold hand engravings. Given that the model at The Met was specifically designed for elite members of society, it looks nothing like the pistols that were available to the regular consumer.


Smith & Wesson is famously one of America’s leading firearm manufacturers. The company, which was founded in 1852 in Connecticut, underwent several phases of development before becoming the modern Smith & Wesson company that is known today. Originally, the company was founded by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, before the two went separate ways

The two formed the company and, two years later, developed the Volcanic Rifle. Smith patented the Volcanic Cartridge before the company was renamed the Volcanic Repeating Arms and sold to Oliver Winchester in 1855. Following the sale of the company, Smith left the company to move back home while Wesson remained at the company for another 8 months before it went bankrupt. After bankruptcy, it became known as the New Haven Arms Company before its final form as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866.

Meanwhile, in 1856, Wesson was in the process of developing a prototype for a cartridge revolver. This was around the same time when Colt’s revolver patent was scheduled to expire. But, quickly, Wesson understood that in order to go through with his invention he would need help from Rollin White, an employee at Colt who held the patent for a specific kind of cylinder.

Wesson reached out to Smith and together they presented White with their idea for a new kind of revolver. That same year, Smith & Wesson created the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company which later became shortened into the Smith & Wesson Company, and colloquially as “Smith & Wesson”.

Though White never became their business partner, he was paid a $0.25 cent royalty for every revolver that Smith and Wesson made. Eventually this agreement led White towards bankruptcy, while Smith & Wesson experienced massive financial success.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a one-of-a-kind globally renowned institution
that is the ideal home for such a historic weapon.

For over 125 years, curatorial experts have collected, researched, preserved and restored artillery, weapons and armor. The Arms & Armour Department at The Met first began in 1912 thanks to Dr. Bashford Dean, an American zoologist who was an expert on arms and armor and started his collection at age 6. However, The Met began collecting valuable pieces of European armory even before the department was officially established. In fact, in 1904, The Met purchased the entire arms and armor collection of Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord, a French diplomat, well before the department existed.

Dr. Dean was so influential to the development and curation of this department, The Met even purchased Dean’s extensive personal collection of armory after his death.

The decision to begin this department at The Met underscores the cultural and historical role of arms and armor in various points throughout human history. Not only do these weapons showcase outstanding craftsmanship, largely in part to the exquisite intricate details featured on each of these objects, these weapons showcase the evolution in technical weaponry and advancements in technology throughout humankind.

Though arms and armor have long been used in hunting, conquest and defense, many of the articles showcased at the museum were developed for royal ceremonies and for court pageantry.
The Arms & Armour collection at The Met is home to over 14,000 objects, some of which have been preserved for over 1,500 years. The oldest piece of armor in the collection is a 6th century strap helmet from the Byzantine Empire while the oldest artifact in the collection is an assortment of flint bifaces from 700,000–200,000 BCE.

In terms of regionality, the Arms and Armour department is one of the most geographically rich collections at The Met, displaying objects from all parts of the world including Egypt, The Ancient Near East, Ancient Greece, The Roman Empire, Africa, The Americas and Oceania. In addition to exhibiting armor that belonged to royals like Henry VII, Henry II and Ferdinand I, the museum also showcases many rare and unique American firearms.

Any past visitor of The MET will likely recognize the dozens of exquisite knights in shining armor lining the halls of the museum, as seen in the photograph above. Most of these pieces come from the later half of the Middle Ages. This curation was made possible thanks to Leonid Tarassuk, a Russian immigrant and arms scholar. Tarassuk, who worked in conservation and research at The Met, organized this iconic collection of European arms and armory in 1975.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is home to some of the world’s largest collections of historic artifacts and esteemed artworks. At over 2 million square feet, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is often referred to as “The MET,” is the largest art museum in the Americas. In fact, there are over 1.5 million artworks on display in the museum. The total collection belonging to the museum is housed at numerous buildings across the city, including at The Cloisters in upper Manhattan.

The main building of The Met, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, welcomes several million visitors each year. In 2022, The Met welcomed 3.2 million visitors, which made it the third most visited museum in the United States and the 8th most visited museum in the world.

In addition to displaying paintings from artists like Michelangelo, Carvaggio, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and others, The Met also showcases ancient artifacts, early sculpture, historic arms and weaponry, archival documents, photographs, monographs, antique instruments, costumes, and, even, period rooms. The artworks, weaponry, sculptures and artifacts up for display at The Met span over 5,000 years of humankind. The Met first opened in April of 1870 and acquired its first object, a Roman sarcophagus, later that year.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art organizes its galleries based on its 17 curatorial departments, many of which are categorized by regional geography.

Starting from the Ancient Near East, The Met houses artworks from regions which make up the modern borders of Armenia, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Central Asia and parts of the Mediterranean coast. In this collection, The Met showcases crafts like pottery and stamp steals dating from the 8th millennium B.C. all the way up through the birth of Islam in the 7th century A.D.

Another historic curatorial department at The Met is their collection of work from Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egypt wing is made up of over 26,000 artifacts including statues, ceramics, portraits and tombs, many of which were discovered from archeological digs sponsored by the museum. Objects in the Egyptian collection span from the Predynastic Period (circa 4500 BC) to Rome’s Occupation of Egypt (400 AD.)

In addition to showcasing collections of African Art, European Art, American Art, Asian Art, Oceanic Art, Greek Art, Roman Art, and Medieval Art, The Met also exhibits collections not curated by a specific epoch or geographical region. These non-geographically curated departments include the Photographs collection, the Musical Instruments collection, The Costume Institute, and the expansive Arms and Armour department.


Steven V. Maksin, the founder of Moonbeam Capital, is a sponsor of The Metropolitan of Art. With a commitment to preserving and advancing arts and culture, Steve Maksin’s generosity has landed him honorable mentions in both the Donors of Funds For Acquisitions of Art and the Champion’s Circle of donors at The Met.