This is a very early example of the First Model, First Issue Smith and Wesson Revolver in .22 caliber. Of the approx. 11,600 produced from 1857-1860, there are six distinct variations. Being the first cartridge revolver, Smith and Wesson simplified and improved the design as they went. This example is a very rare and early Type 2 in the 250 serial range with the early style revolving recoil shield and bayonet spring bayonet latch. According to known S&W production figures, it was made somewhere between November 18, 1857-May 17, 1858. This one was found recently and in exceptionally nice condition. If you followed the evolution of the modern gun from its many branches down to the roots, this little S&W Model One represents the acorn from which all cartridge guns come from. Over the years, we've been very fortunate to have found 3rd, 4th, 5th, and the most common 6th types but never expected to find one of the rare 1st or 2nd types. See links:
Type 5: http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/smith-and-wesson-model-1-first-issue-revolver-type-4-ivory-grips-volcanic-rollin-white-patent-pre-1898.htm
Type 6: http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/smith-and-wesson-number-one-1-first-1st-issue-5th-6th-type-revolver-antique-civil-war.htm
These 1st and 2nd types are quite scarce, usually in rough condition, and rarely come up for sale outside of major auctions.
Overall Condition grades NRA Antique Very Good with sharp edges and good markings. 100% matching numbers on barrel, frame, cylinder, and grips. The barrel has 25% faded original blue mostly in the protected areas with the balance turned to a smooth brown patina. Bore has its correct early style three-groove rifling. See photos. Nice Smith and Wesson barrel address. Cylinder has turned to a brown patina and has the early 1st style marking with the sole 1855 Rollin White patent in two lines which is still mostly legible. See photos. Brass frame has no silver plating remaining (except under the grips) but is in excellent shape with a solid hinge and topstrap with no cracks or repairs. Two-piece hammer is intact. Very Good mechanics with the early style large revolving recoil shield and key for retaining the cylinder. The original grips are in Fine Condition and both panels are numbered to the gun. They appear to be made either very dark rosewood or possibly ebony. Nice example of the 259th cartridge gun every made. Note: This revolver was designed and built in the 1850's for black powder cartridges. Its early steel cylinder and brass frame are not capable of withstanding a single round of modern smokeless ammunition. That said, due to its date of manufacture and historical significance, this antique revolver is being sold as a collectible only.