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TSMG s/n 167
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167.jpg

Colt Thompson 1921A No. 167

 

  • Voted best gun in U.S. by Thompson Collectors News (1992)
  • Featured in Rimfire Production Video
  • Listed in Thompson Serial Number Book by Gordon Herigstad
  • The #1 most perfect Thompson in the U.S. (Terry Williams)
  • Most completely documented Thompson in U.S.  Seen by many collectors as the Picasso of the Thompson world.  This gun is known as the famous HARDWARE STORE GUN.
  • It was owned by original family for over 65 years and was never fired.  It has one of the most interesting stories about a Thompson and its owner you may ever hear.

FINDING THAT PERFECT THOMPSON

 

WRITTEN BY:  JAMES T. FALTER

 

 

Years ago I started to collect Colt Thompsons.  First I bought a fairly nice 1921 with a compensator.  As soon as I had it in my possession, I ran out to the very next day to shoot it.  After the first box of ammo, I decided that I would never shoot one of my Colts again.  In my opinion, it is a sin to shoot such a fine weapon with so much history, nostalgia and craftsmanship.  With these thoughts in mind, I started a relentless search for that perfect gun.  I traveled from Coast to Coast following leads that usually led to a gun that some guy thought was mint, but at best was a 95% or worse.  As far as I am concerned, I do not believe there is such a thing as a mint condition Thompson.  The word “mint” to me means uncirculated”, i.e., a mint coin.

 

The story that I am about to tell you is about the nicest gun that I have ever owned or seen, Serial Number 167.

 

I had been hearing rumors about a perfect gun with a new C drum and the Serial Number was believed to be “67”.  But, it was not for sale so I let it go in one ear and out the other.

 

One day the phone rang and it was someone answering an ad I had placed in “The Shot Gun News.”  The caller wanted to know if I had any idea what the gun he had was worth.  The serial number of the gun was “167”.  After we talked I decided to go look at his gun as it was described to me as “mint”.

 

The original owner was Roscoe Clyde Smyth.  He owned R.C. Smyth Hardware Store in Bergholz, Ohio.  Bergholz is a town of about 1,200 people,  just north of I-70, near the Ohio, Pennsylvania border.  The hardware store was situated on the corner of 2nd street and Lincoln Avenue.  During the time that Mr. Smyth owned the store, he was personally robbed three times at the store.  During one hold-up he was shot nine times and survived.  During two other burglaries he killed a man in each attempt.  Smyth also had two sons, one of which was shot to death on his own front doorstep on a hill in the outskirts of Bergholz.  At this point, Mr. Smyth felt he needed a Thompson for protection.  After receiving his, he displayed it in his store with a 100 drum in it for all to see.  The gun was never needed and appears to have never been fired.  Roscoe Smyth finally walked out and closed the door to his business with the inventory intact, except for the guns, knives and ammo in 1937.

 

His son, Roy was given the Thompson s/n 167 and all accessories since he had an interest in firearms.  Roy lived on the corner of 2nd and Garfield, just down the street from the store.  Roy was given the gun prior to the store lock-up in July 1936.  He registered it on 2/20/43 and it was approved on 2/23/43.  Roy than gave the gun to his nephew, Stan sometime in October, 1945.  Fortunately Stan re-registered the weapon during the 1968 amnesty.  It is fortunate for Stan and myself that he did.

 

It is hard to believe that in the 70 years to follow that someone did not even have a temptation to shoot s/n 167.  But according to conversations with Stan and after examination of the weapon, it appears to be UNFIRED!  Thank God that the people who owned the gun felt the way that I do.  I would have been a fool not to have bought the gun from Stan years ago. The gun is still in 99+% condition.  Many who have seen it say that it is the “PERFECT” gun.

 

The gun itself is a PRIZE, but along with the weapon came the following items of interest:

 

            1.] one C drum

            2.] one 1921 canvas case

3.] The original handwritten letter from R.C. Smyth, dated January 19th 1921, to Auto Ordnance asking for information on guns & accessories.

4.] The acknowledgment from Auto Ordnance to R.C. Smyth dated February 2, 1921 with a price quote.  The note stated that if he could sell three more guns he would get a 20% discount.  Can you imagine selling three more Thompson’s in a town the size of Bergholz??

5.] The original handwritten letter ordering the gun & accessories

6.] Acknowledgement from Auto Ordnance confirming the order from R.C. Smyth.

7.] The original sales receipt for:

            1 Colt Thompson #167

            1 C Drum

            1 Mills Web Carrying Case

 

            TOTAL PRICE: $270.00

8.] The railway express shipping records dated May 3rd, 1921

9.] Sales brochures, manual, handbooks and the only early promotional flyer of Goll & Bliss pictured in it.  This Flyer is pictured on page 169 of The Thompson Submachinegun by Hill

 

So keep looking there are those rare items and guns still out there somewhere.

 

I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to inspect, handle and disassemble #167.  I can attest that the description of the gun and accessories in Jim's letter above are accurate to the extent I can tell.  This TSMG is gorgeous.  The original barrel breech end s/n is partially visible through the extractor slot.  All internals I inspected show no signs of wear including the blish lock and oiler.  The wood is virtually right from the factory.  The gun exhibits no signs of firing that I can tell.  I do not believe a better condition or documented TSMG exists.
 
This weapons was advertised in 2002 for $100k including all accessories and extensive documentation.
 
In today's market what do you think this is worth?  email me (Michael) your opinion from the contact page.