Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Nightstand Gun’ Sells For Nearly $1 Million

The 26th U.S. President reportedly kept this Smith & Wesson pistol by his White House bedside.

(Rock Island Auction Company)

A stunning custom Smith & Wesson revolver owned by former President Theodore Roosevelt recently fetched nearly $1 million at a Rock Island Auction Company event.

Roosevelt, who served as the 26th President of the United States, is remembered as a tough diplomatic leader, an avid sportsman, a conservationist who preserved 230 million acres of public American land, and a courageous serviceman who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in the Spanish-American War.

(Rock Island Auction Company)

In fact, it’s believed that Roosevelt intended this Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 to be his sidearm during deployment, as a factory letter indicates it was received by the then-lieutenant colonel on May 12, 1898—the same day he left to train with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, aka the Rough Riders. He instead famously carried a Colt Model 1892 into the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba less than two months later on July 1, 1898.

However, this Smith & Wesson remained as a part of his comprehensive firearms collection. After his death, it’s speculated that the revolver was inherited by Roosevelt’s former bodyguard and valet James E. Amos, who would go on to become one of the first African American FBI agents and wrote about his time with the legendary statesmen in Theodore Roosevelt: Hero to his Valet.

(Rock Island Auction Company)

In that book, Amos writes, “While President he often went armed. I have in my home now a large revolver which Mr. Roosevelt placed at the side of his bed every night while in the White House. It was given me by Mrs. Roosevelt after his death.” There’s a very good chance that this Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 is that very bedside gun.

Chambered in .38 Long Colt—the standard U.S. service cartridge of the period during which it was ordered—the pistol features flourishes of scroll engraving with beaded backgrounds on the barrel, cylinder, and frame, as well as a pinned rounded blade front sight and a notch rear sight. Included with purchase was an early-20th century Rock Island Arsenal brown leather holster originally designed for a Colt double-action service revolver.

(Rock Island Auction Company)

Valued between $800,000 and $1.4 million, Roosevelt’s Smith & Wesson revolver ultimately sold for $910,625. Head to the Rock Island Auction Company’s website to learn more.