Thanks for stopping by and adding that wealth of photos and information, Bill! That's perfect. I appreciate the contribution! One of the biggest challenges I had in researching these particular revolvers when I bought mine was having to skim a plethora of various threads for bits and pieces of information, and they weren't always easy to find. Having this be a one-stop-shop to learn about them is really neat.Reposting some stuff from an earlier thread to give a boost to Keith's excellent new thread here on these very interesting revolvers.
The granddaddy of all Detective Special collectibles, the Police Positive Special with the 2” barrel. As our knowledgeable members know, this was the Detective Special at its inception, before it was given its soon-to-be-legendary name the following year. First marketed in 1926 and first catalogued as the Detective Special in 1927 in the A-70-9th catalogue. Characterized by the two-inch barrel; the lack of a model name, manufacturer’s name, and patent date; a barrel roll mark that reads only “38 Special”; and a narrow grip frame (aka “skinny butt”). Estimated total number of guns exhibiting all these characteristics is approximately 100 to 150. One anomaly here is the checkered trigger, which might be a replacement. I believe checkered triggers were first installed on the Detective Special sometime later (additional input welcome). What I usually look for with historical collectibles is some real character because of genuine use, but not abuse. That’s the case here. I rate the finish at about 85%. A few screw heads show some slight buggering but nothing significant. The grips have some nicks and scrapes, and the high points of the checkering have been smoothed from use. Bore and chambers are mirror bright. Unquestionably a daily carry gun, but one that was well cared for. The timings of bolt retraction, cylinder unlocking, and bolt return are excellent. However, final cylinder lockup shows a condition reportedly common with Colts wherein the bolt drops a bit late onto the ramp, and so the hammer reaches full cock slightly before the cylinder locks. Nonetheless, careful observation of this weapon, as well as sound and feel, during dry firing with snap caps indicates complete cylinder lockup on all six chambers before hammer fall, and with the hammer down at the completion of the cycle the gun exhibits the customary Colt “bank vault” lockup. I read in an excellent earlier posting (I believe by dfariswheel) that when these old Colts were shipped from Hartford they were sometimes undertimed and they eventually wore in to proper timing through shooting. This firearm looks as if it was often carried but rarely fired.
This PPS letters to the Citizens Savings Bank in NYC via the H & D Folsom Arms Company, with a shipping date of June 26, 1926. One of the facts I found intriguing, and a bit surprising, in the Colt letter was the shipment of six guns at one time to a single bank. That struck me as being quite an arsenal. So I conducted some research, and what I found proved far more interesting than I’d expected. The building had just been completed in 1924 and, incidentally, still exists and has been designated a New York City landmark. Evidently the bank directors felt that multiple armed guards were really needed, but not simply for protection against ordinary robbers. In fact, the general upsurge in bank robberies wouldn’t occur until the following decade. Rather, in this case the bank’s own customers were a major cause of concern. According to an article on the granting of landmark status to the building in The New York Times from 2011, “. . . the sturdy design was also meant to assure the bank’s officers that they would be safe from their depositors, at a time when the Bowery—a seething jumble of humanity in the perpetual shadow of the Third Avenue el tracks—was regarded as a less than ideal banking location.” In Architectural Record magazine of July 1926, Oliver Whitwell Wilson wrote, “The building is in the midst of an easily excitable population and riots are not unknown. The bank is thus protected against such a mob and could hold out until help arrived.”
The image of a phalanx of bank guards holding the line with their new Colt snubbies, of which this weapon would have been one, against an irate mob of bank depositors sounds like something flashed across the cover of one of the more audacious pulp magazines of the twenties, rather than an expression of the anxieties of a writer in a sober architectural journal, but there it is. Such delightful details don’t ordinarily emerge when one follows up the particulars of a Colt letter, and here they add another layer of flamboyant history to the tale of this classic firearm.
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My gun (above) in Gary Peer's classic study.
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The dealer to which my gun was shipped.
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The gun's ultimate destination (along with 5 others).
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The bank today.
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Something to bear in mind is that true “skinny butt” 2-inch Police Positive Specials are extremely rare. Gary Peer roughly estimates only about 100-150 were ever manufactured. He told me in correspondence in 2014 that he had seen only 2 (and he said he had "looked hard and long” for them) and bought both. One of them is the one pictured in his book that I purchased from him and posted above. True “skinny butt” PPSs like this one have a grip measuring 1 9/16 inches front to back, whereas the butts of the later, but not skinny-butt, guns measure 1 7/8 inches front to back. See photo below from page 53 of Gary’s book.
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Also, as for everyone else, thanks for sharing the photos of yours! I love seeing them and look forward to more as they come.