This is an interesting piece of Colt and New York City Police history and a great opportunity to own a Colt that was personally ordered by Teddy Roosevelt. This Colt New Police Revolver is in .32 Colt/.32 S&W with 4" barrel, and factory engraved on the backstrap "NEW YORK POLICE". It's also marked with the badge number of the officer who carried, making this an interesting project for further research. Antique Pre-1898 serial number is in the 1,300 range. The Colt Police was the grandfather to the modern double action police revolver.
These were originally ordered by Theodore Roosevelt, NYPD who presided as President of the Board of Commissioners for the Department 1895-97. We all know of "TR" as the colorful Rough Rider in the Span Am War who later became President of the United States, but his early years were far from mundane. After the loss of his first 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 solely on their qualifications in direct contrast to how positions were usually filled.
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. In the 1890's, the public atmosphere was charged with reform which would have made Roosevelt the perfect candidate for Civil Service job or Police Commissioner. Prior to Roosevelt joining the force, many officers were hired based on political friendships while others even bought their way onto the force. As one might have expected with such a poorly supervised system, corruption was rampant. Roosevelt began to slowly change this. During his brief time in office before becoming the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt hired 1,600 new officers based solely on their qualifications and standardized exam scores. In keeping up with the times, he even formed a special bicycle unit. He also fought hard to end corruption on the force by weeding out bad officers and constantly monitoring his men on their beats. It was not uncommon to find Roosevelt walking NYC streets late at night sometimes until 3am. That's where this Colt Revolver enters the story.
Traditionally, NYPD Officers would arm themselves with pretty much whatever they wanted. Roosevelt saw the need for a standard service revolver that chambered the same ammunition and every officer would learn to use. After trying one out himself, Roosevelt ordered 4,500 Colt New Police revolvers and began standardized training in marksmanship...a skill most 1890's era officers sorely lacked. While his tenure was short, just 2 years, Roosevelt's impact was felt and the changes he made were building blocks that helped shape the NYPD into the modern day force we know today. This revolver is a direct historical link to Roosevelt's early career as a reformer and the beginning of the modern day NYPD. One can only imagine the scenes, people, and life, witnessed by this revolver as it was carried through the world's busiest and most diverse city during the late 19th century.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Excellent with 75% thinning original blue remaining overall, with balance worn to silvery grey metal due to holster wear. The trigger, back face of the hammer, and screws still show some of their original tempered fire blue. Sides of hammer are still mostly in their factory original factory bright. Fine+ original hard rubber grips are numbered to the gun and with strong checkering and Colt Motifs. No chips or cracks. 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". This was performed by Colt and will letter as a special order feature as the first 4,500 New Police revolvers went exclusively to the NYPD. Nice working action. Excellent bore that is mostly bright with strong rifling, little to no pits. Badge number of the officer who carried this revolver is stamped on the butt (bottom-strap) "1574". You'll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting combination of history than a Colt ordered by T.R. himself during his prime years as a reformer.