Smith & Wesson Letter of Authenticity / Factory Letter and Deep Dive

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  • Trepang

    Active Member
    Dec 10, 2015
    2,341
    Calvert County, MD
    Have any of you guys ever sent off for a Smith & Wesson Letter of Authenticity / Factory Letter and then a Deep Dive request?

    I coughed up the $100 for the Letter of Authenticity / Factory Letter for my 1943 U.S. Navy Victory revolver but I am not sure of what to expect.
    Does anyone have first hand experience with these letters?

    Additionally, I'm not sure what to expect if I decide to resubmit for a "deep dive" and I am curious as to if its worth the money.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Screen Shot 2022-12-04 at 7.35.32 AM.png
     

    IronEye

    Member
    MDS Supporter
    Feb 10, 2018
    690
    Howard County
    I have sent for a factory letter from Ruger. I was hoping that a Speed Six that I have in 38 Special was delivered directly to a police department as a special order. I was disappointed but it was only $10.
     

    E.Shell

    Active Member
    Feb 5, 2007
    9,043
    The right side of the grass.
    I'm getting ready to do this initial letter request myself for one of my grandfather's pistols. I've filled in and printed the request form, and just need to write a check and send it off. Hate to cough up the $100, but I guess it costs what it costs and I am curious. Depending on what the letter says, I may also splurge on the 'deep dive' too.
     

    python

    Member
    Apr 15, 2010
    515
    Unless you think there's something historically significant or there is some special provenance, the letters aren't worth the money.
     

    Biggfoot44

    Active Member
    Aug 2, 2009
    27,589
    A (U.S.)Military marked Victory should have a simple trail , and the regular Factory Letter should be fine .

    Factory letters are also important for unusual combination of features , or if features are in combination not typically associated with particular dash number .
     

    TI-tick

    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    Unless you think there's something historically significant or there is some special provenance, the letters aren't worth the money.
    This has been my experience with Colt letters. Even on a British proofed stamped 1911 the letter said one of 10K shipped to Brooklyn NY in early 1900's.

    That said, there was some question about the last two digits of the SN and per the Colt historian, the inverse of my SN would have been one of (IIRC) 2K shipped to Norway.

    So, you never know; the odds are against you same as the lottery.

    And 100 bucks is not what it used to be.

    FJB!
     

    mawkie

    C&R Whisperer
    Sep 28, 2007
    4,048
    Catonsville
    Here's the upside. Like capture papers, factory historian letters usually add value to a firearm when it comes time to re-home it. Something that collectors like me like to see.
     

    md_rick_o

    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    Sep 30, 2008
    4,965
    Severn Md.
    I have a colt commando that has the 2" barrel and on the Colt forum some thought it was re-barreled. I did the Colt letter to verify if it was original or not (it was originally a 2"). Since it was passed down from Grandpa Jim i did believe it worth the $75 colt charges.
     

    TheOriginalMexicanBob

    Active Member
    Jul 2, 2017
    24,388
    Sun City West, AZ
    Factory letters usually show the gun was shipped to some unimportant location…but is still part of its history. But sometimes…you can find out something special about it that adds real value as well as its history.

    Most of the guns I’ve lettered didn’t go anywhere special but some were surprising…one went to Army counter-intelligence at Camp Ritchie in MD during the war. Two went to the Merchant Marine…one to Ft. Myer. One went by name to a member of the USAF in Formosa…another to a military gun club in West Germany.

    While none can be tied to specific actions or units otherwise the value is enhanced by such information.
     

    python

    Member
    Apr 15, 2010
    515
    Here's the upside. Like capture papers, factory historian letters usually add value to a firearm when it comes time to re-home it. Something that collectors like me like to see.
    It depends on what the letter says. 90% of them aren't worth the paper they're printed on. A lot of the history and/or provenance happens after a gun leaves the factory, so buy the gun, not the story. If a gun is sold directly to someone well known or of some notoriety there may be added value to a piece. Letters that verify the original configuration are sometimes valuable. In the more than a few years that I've been collecting, I've only lettered one gun to confirm an unusual, factory original configuration. I've probably bought a dozen or so that came with letters that didn't say anything significant.
     

    mawkie

    C&R Whisperer
    Sep 28, 2007
    4,048
    Catonsville
    In my eyes a factory historian letter is worth more to me than capture papers, which always seem to bump the selling price. Case in point: my Belgian contract Colt 1903. Wasn't 100% sure if it was sold/shipped to the Belgian government or one of the few commercial pistols pulled from the production run and sold stateside during WWI. Even though mine was sold to a hardware store stateside it was crucial information and helped considerably in placing an accurate value to it.
    Yes, not everything is going to be worth paying for the historian to look up but for those like me who are innately curious and collect more for the history than range time it can be a valuable resource.
     

    Biggfoot44

    Active Member
    Aug 2, 2009
    27,589
    If purely dollars and cents investment for a quick flip , yeah 90% of time a Factory Letter won't " pay back investment " . ***

    For most people it will end up being something for their curiosity , and general interest in firearms history.

    *** To be selective ; it helps to :

    Be generally knowledgeable about that particular model of firearm
    Consult the standard reference work(s) for that firearm .( In OP"s case ; Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson by Roy Jenks )
    Read up ( if there is a ) dedicated collector's Forum for that brand of firearm .
     

    IronEye

    Member
    MDS Supporter
    Feb 10, 2018
    690
    Howard County
    Very nice. I like that little piece of history. But I'm weird that way. I was excited by finding a Sinclair credit card used as a shim in a Sears single shot .22.
     

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