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    Frank Hamer: Important Merwin Hulbert Revolver with which the Legendary Lawman Killed His First Man. This gun was central to what, after the killing of Bonnie and Clyde Barrow, is probably the most famous incident in Hamer's storied career! A year earlier Frank Hamer and his younger brother, Harrison, had entered into a share cropping arrangement with a landowner named Dan McSwain. McSwain had observed young Hamer closely, noting what a fine shot he was with guns of all types - doubtless learned during years of hunting and fishing as a youth. He approached Frank and asked him how he would like to earn $150. In jest the boy responded "Who do I have to kill?"

    But it turned out this was precisely what McSwain had in mind. His employer wanted Hamer to provide a final solution to problems he was having with a neighboring rancher. Upon realizing the man was serious the straight laced Hamer became furious and told McSwain he intended to tell the rancher of his plans. which he and his brother proceeded to do.

    Two days later, Frank was working outside when his brother saw McSwain creeping up on him with a shotgun. He yelled out in time for Frank to jump aside and McSwain's first shot missed. But Frank was hit hard by the second shot. Nonetheless Frank was able to struggle to his feet, draw a small pistol and fire, knocking McSwain off his feet, The boys ran and hid as a recovered McSwain went into his house, grabbed a massive buffalo gun and proceeded, unsuccessfully, to hunt them. After the incident Hamer fled to Pecos Country to recuperate from his shotgun wounds. A year later he returned home, stopping on the way to buy this revolver. He went to McSwain's house to confront him. In the ensuing confrontation Hamer shot McSwain through the heart, killing him in self-defense, an episode described by his son Frank Hamer, Jr. in a 1981 statement which accompanies the lot.

    In his statement, Hamer attests that over a period of years he had sold a number of items belonging to his father, including this Merwin Hulbert revolver, serial #87, which he stated was the gun his famous father used to kill McSwain. In addition to Frank Hamer,Jr.'s original statement, this gun is accompanied by a copy of I'm Frank Hamer: The Life of a Texas Peace Officer by Frost & Jenkins. Also included is an undated photostat from the auction catalog for the Raymond Brown collection, in which the Merwin Hulbert was sold, as well as the original tag attached to the gun in that auction. The gun then became part of the well-known Robert Palazzo Collection, from whom our late consignor acquired it.

    Various items belonging to Frank Hamer have appeared at auction, but with the exception of those associated with the Barrows, none is more significant or evocative than this modest revolver with which the legendary lawman killed his first man.

    Engraved Merwin Hulbert & Co. Double Action Revolver. Serial no. 87 [frame under grips], .32 caliber, 7-shit cylinder, 3 1/2-inch ribbed barrel with fixed front and rear sights. Nickel-plated finish. Elaborately scroll, floral and game engraved barrel, frame and cylinder. Checkered hard rubber grip panels. Lanyard ring.

    Condition: Very good. Retaining approximately 70-80% nickel-plate, with noticeable areas of flaking, handling wear and pitting. Scuffs and scratches present to grips. Action good. Moderately pitted bore.
    From the Robert Palazzo Collection

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2020
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,036

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