This is an antique Iver Johnson First Model Safety Automatic Hammerless Top Break revolver, serial #4942, caliber .38 S & W centerfire, with a 3.25″ barrel and factory checkered hard rubber grips with the owl’s head pattern at the top. The revolver retains 95 percent of the original nickel-plated finish with only traces of blue on the triggerguard. The hammer and trigger have a good deal of case colors remaining. The first sight blade is missing and the bore is in very good condition with sharp rifling and a couple of small patches of light corrosion. The left side of the frame below the hammer is punch-dot engraved “LEE” over what appears to be a “VL.” The mechanism works well, however the spring on the cylinder catch is weak and the cylinder will sometimes rise higher on the arbor than it should when the revolver is opened to eject the shells. This is undoubtedly what Lee’s older brother Robert L. Oswald referred to when he told Lee that “the cylinder was off center and...dangerous to fire.” To a knowledgeable shooter this condition does not affect the safety of the revolver, only the ease of reloading.
Included is a letter from Lee’s brother, Robert L. Oswald, telling the story of the gun, in part: “In early October 1956, Mother found out that my brother Lee had gotten a pistol. She was scared to death of guns. At the time, my mother, Lee and I were living in an apartment in Forth Worth, Texas…I told Lee that he had no business having a gun. I don’t know where it came from, how he got it, or where he got it. I told him I’d give him ten dollars for it….Lee turned 17 ten days later, on October 18th, and on October 24, 1956, he joined the Marines.” The letter also holds two images of the check that Robert wrote to his brother as payment for the gun, with the back of the check clearly showing Lee Harvey Oswald's signature. In her testimony before the Warren Commission, Lee’s mother Marguerite told the same story, although she placed it a few months earlier while they were in Louisiana; taking into account the fact that Robert did not join Lee and Marguerite in New Orleans, it is most likely that the timing was simply misremembered by Marguerite. Never before offered for sale, this is an absolutely unique piece of American history; it will transfer as an antique with no restrictions under Federal law.
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