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Theodore Roosevelt’s 1898 Revolver Sold for Nearly $1 Million at Auction Last Month

The former president's Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 revolver dates back to the Spanish-American War.

Theodore Roosevelt’s 1898 Revolver Courtesy of RIAC

Former President Theodore Roosevelt’s gun sold for nearly $1 million this past December at a Rock Island Auction Company event, the brand said in a statement.

The gun, a Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 revolver dating to the late 1890s, had a hammer price of $910,625. That figure puts it close to the prop gun used by Harrison Ford’s character Han Solo in the original Star Wars film from 1977, which netted over $1 million during a Rock Island auction last August.

Roosevelt’s gun, according to provenance papers provided by Rock Island, was received by the former president on May 12, 1898, when he—then a lieutenant colonel—was due to train the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, colloquially known as the Rough Riders and the only US military unit to see combat in the Spanish-American War.

“Firearms with presidential ties are highly sought after and extremely difficult to find,” Rock Island Auction Company president Kevin Hogan said in a statement. “Being tied to such an important office frequently places these arms at historic moments in American history. We’ve had the responsibility of offering three presidential arms in 2022, which is unheard of, but it never ceases to be something special.”

Though the revolver—fitted to fire .38 caliber rounds, the US service cartridge at the time—was meant to be used in the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt famously used a Colt double-action revolver salvaged from the wreckage of the USS Maine, the US Navy ship that sank in Havana Harbor in February 1898. The destruction of the Maine is credited with starting the war, though what ultimately sunk the ship is still debated.

Roosevelt reportedly kept the Smith & Wesson firearm as a “nightstand pistol” until the last years of his life. After he passed, his wife, Edith, gave the gun to James E. Amos, the bodyguard and valet of the former president.

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