There aren't many antique guns out there with direct ties to President Theodore Roosevelt...let alone ones for just a few hundred dollars. Just think of what collectors have to pay to own one of Roosevelt's hunting rifles...or even a Colt Single Action or Springfield Krag issued to Roosevelt's 1st USV Cavalry during the Spanish-American War. Here is a rare exception to that rule and one that possesses a great deal of American History behind it!
This Colt New Police Revolver was personally ordered for the NYPD by Theodore Roosevelt, President of the Board of Commissioners 1895-97. We all know of "TR" as the colorful Rough Rider in the Span Am War, Assistant Secretary of the Navy who one day ordered the entire US Pacific Fleet to destroy the Spanish Fleet in the Phillipines (on the day the Secretary of the Navy was out of the Office), the Governor of NY, and the Vice President who later became the President of the United States. That would have been enough for several generations worth of achievements for a single family to brag on. However, Roosevelt never shied from personal achievements and even his early years were far from mundane. After the loss of his wife, he spent several years out West as a rancher and even local Sheriff of his community. He eventually moved back East and began a career in public service during the 1880's. By the Mid-1890's Roosevelt had made a name for himself as a reformer on the New York Civil Service Board. He had fought hard to hire public servants based on their qualifications rather than their political connections. American History Teachers will often say Teddy is "the most fun" of all the US Presidents to teach as there is rarely a dull moment in his life!
With the public atmosphere charged by reform in the 1890's, Roosevelt was the perfect "Muckraker" and with his Civil Service Board experience, he was a good choice for Police Commissioner for one of the most diverse and busiest cities in the World. One might also have described Roosevelt as determined and completely impervious to corruption....two qualities that would be needed in the tough fights that lay ahead of him. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was independently wealthy and had little to no worldly wants. Prior to Roosevelt joining the force, many Police officers were hired based on political friendships and some even bought their badges. Given these lax standards, corruption was rampant. During his brief time in office before becoming the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt hired 1600 new officers based solely on their qualifications and standardized exam scores. He also fought hard to end corruption on the force by weeding out bad officers and constantly monitoring his men on their beats. This was no idle threat! It was not uncommon to find Roosevelt walking NYC streets late at night...sometimes until 3am. Prior to the 1890's, one skill New York City Police Officers sorely lacked was proficiency with firearms. It certainly didn't help that there really weren't any standards in place with the department. Officers had to basically arm themselves with whatever they felt necessary to perform their duty or could afford. That changed with Roosevelt and it started by his order for 4,500 brand new Colt Double Action Police Revolvers. Each Revolver was factory engraved "New York Police" and it appears that the department stamped the badge number/s of officer it was issued to. With a standard weapon, Roosevelt required all Police to begin training in marksmanship. In keeping up with the times, he even formed a special bicycle unit....which are still used today. While his service with the NYPD was brief and much work was left, Roosevelt had successfully steered the NYCPD towards the modern force we know today and responded so gallantly on 9/11. We view this revolver is a direct historical link to Roosevelt's early career as a reformer and the beginning of the modern day NYCPD.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Good condition with the metal worn to a light silvery gray. Good edges and very good markings throughout. Good original hard rubber grips that with the checkering somewhat worn. No chips or cracks. Serial number is in the 1200 range. Mfd in 1896 or 1897. Left side of frame marked "COLT'S NEW POLICE" wrapped around Rampant Colt symbol. Barrel is marked on left side "COLT NEW POLICE 32". Top of barrel has Colt name, Hartford address, with 1884 and 1888 patent dates. Backstrap is engraved in script style "New York Police". Nice working action and a Fair+ bore. A nice piece historic piece with ties to the NYCPD and Theodore Roosevelt.