.32 caliber, 3 1/4" barrel, S/N 8541. Blue finish, with hard rubber grips. The backstrap is period engraved Tom Mix. This was revolver was one of several firearms known to have belonged ot the "King of Cowboys". This was likely his "carry gun", due to its concealable size.
This revolver was among several items on Mix's person at the time of his death on October 12, 1940. The pistol was removed from the wreckage of his 1937 Cord Phaeton by Ray W. Johnson, of Florence, Arizona, who was working as a foreman for a State of Arizona Highway Department crew on that day in 1940. According to a 1957 hand written letter, included in the lot, Johnson describes "I was a foreman for a state road crew. On October 12, 1940 we were working right outside Florence when a Cord roadster approached us at a high rate of speed. he swirved (sic) to avoid hitting a crew of highway workers and overturned. The driver died instantly. We removed his body from the car + saw it was Tom Mix, the movie star." Johnson goes on to state that "the next day, after the wreck was removed I found a small S+W pistol with inscription on the back strap that read Tom Mix, serial #8541. I kept the pistol for several years, but now I've decided to sell it to Mr. Robert Ables." The letter is signed and dated 3-1-57.
The accident is described in detail on page 450 of Michael Wallis' book The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West. On the day he died, Mix was driving to visit an associate in Florence, Arizona, and then head West back to Hollywood. Eighteen miles south of Florence, on Highway 98, a work crew was repairing a bridge over a dry wash. Mix, a notoriously fast driver, failed to heed warning signs as he approached and crashed his Phaeton through the work crew barrier, flipping it over into the wash. An aluminum suitcase situated behind Mix crashed into the back of his head, breaking his neck and killing him instantly.
Provenance: Last sold in January, 2009, Heritage Auction #6017, Lot #43067
**Requires C&R or FFL - see T&C if you are not personally a license holder
The pistol itself retains original blue finish, mostly in the protected areas, with the rest of the patina fading to a plum. The gun has a good bore and is mechanically sound.