Rare Tiffany & Co. Arms on Display at the Nevada Museum of Art

Colt Patent 2nd Generation Army Pistol by Tiffany Co
Colt’s Patent 2nd Generation New Model Holster or Army Pistol, by Tiffany & Co.(popularly known as the 2nd generation Colt Model 1860 Army, The American Eagle by Tiffany & Co.), circa 1994. Robert M. Lee Collection © 2012 Robert M. Lee Trust. All rights reserved. No reproduction of photos without prior permission.

Reno, Nevada – -(Ammoland.com)- In an exclusive, single-venue showing, the Nevada Museum of Art presents Tiffany & Co. Arms from the Robert M. Lee Collection featuring objects from the finest-known collection of privately owned Tiffany & Co. firearms rivaled only by those on view in the Robert M. Lee Gallery of American Arms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

On view February 11 – May 20, the exhibition features six Tiffany & Co.-designed revolvers, four pistols, one rifle, and one presentation sword from the Robert M. Lee Collection.

The most distinguished name in decorative firearms in America is Tiffany & Co.—a surprise to those who might otherwise recognize the firm as a legendary purveyor of fine silver, jewelry, and luxury objects. Founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany, what became Tiffany & Co. commenced business just one year after the young inventor Samuel Colt registered his new designs for revolving pistols and long arms with the U.S. Patent Office. In the 175 years since then, the paths of Tiffany & Co. and Colt crossed many times. Among the other American gun makers with ties to Tiffany & Co. are Henry Deringer, Winchester, and Smith & Wesson.

“The magic of Tiffany & Co. arms drew clients the likes of Theodore Roosevelt,” states R. L. Wilson, Curator of Firearms for the Robert M. Lee Collection, “and inspired the creative instincts of the firm’s designers, from the first objects of the mid-19th century, continuing up through modern times. The Robert M. Lee Collection showcases some of Tiffany’s most exquisite pieces.”

Tiffany’s production of presentation swords and fine guns began in the 1850s, reached a peak during the Civil War period (c. 1861-65), and continued through the close of World War I (c. 1918). The art of Tiffany & Co. arms was revived c. 1982, and remained active until c. 2001, with innovative modern era designs created by the firm’s Corporate Division. The Tiffany & Co. items in this exhibition span just over a century — they were made as early as 1893 and as recently as 1994.

All of the rare arms in this exhibition are featured in a series of books being published by Yellowstone Press, under the umbrella title The Art of the Gun. The first book in the series, Magnificent Colts Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection, is available in the Nevada Museum of Art’s Museum Store.

Colt Single Action Army Tiffany & Co. Revolver
Colt Single Action Army Tiffany & Co. Revolver, (popularly known as a Third Generation Colt Single Action Army), 1985. Robert M. Lee Collection © 2012 Robert M. Lee Trust. All rights reserved. No reproduction of photos without prior permission

This special exhibition of selected Tiffany & Co. arms is the first major showing since The Artistry of Tiffany’s Decorative Arms organized in 1991 by the firm’s Archivist, Janet Zapata. That presentation was at the flagship Tiffany & Co. store on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, New York, and coincided with premiering the Royal Armouries Smith & Wesson Tiffany Special, commissioned by the Armouries for display at Her Majesty’s Tower of London. Among those present at the opening of the 1991 exhibition were the Lees, which led to adding the ‘American Eagle Colt Army Pistol’ to the Lee collection.

  • Among creators of the exquisite decorations on Tiffany & Co. arms was Paulding Farnham, considered by many to be the firm’s premier designer. The elaborate sword in this exhibition, featuring embellishments by Farnham, was presented to Admiral Robley D. Evans, Commander of the U.S.S. Iowa in the Battle of Santiago, a major victory in the Spanish-American War.
  • Certain pistol handle types made in the 19th century are identified by collectors as “Tiffany grips.” These were sometimes manufactured by Tiffany & Co., but most were produced by other firms, primarily in New York City—such as Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, military goods dealers, and distributors. A Police Colt with Mexican Eagle Tiffany & Co. grips is featured in this exhibition.
  • Tiffany & Co. was renowned for its skills at etching, and a cased and inscribed pair of silver- and gold-finished, elaborately etched, Colt Model 1861 Navy revolvers—presented to frontier hero Wm. “Buffalo Bill” Mathewson—is included in this exhibition.

The objects included in this exhibition are from the private collection of Robert M. Lee.
Exclusive sponsorship of Tiffany & Co. Arms from the Robert M. Lee Collection provided by the Wayne L. Prim Foundation.

ART BITE R.L. Wilson on the Arms of Tiffany & Co.
Friday, March 23 / noon

R.L. Wilson is a curator, writer, and consultant on the history, art, and design of firearms, who has studied Tiffany-designed firearms for nearly thirty years. Join the Museum in welcoming Wilson for a discussion of the arms designed by Tiffany & Co., and a fascinating introduction to the beautiful firearms on display.

The Tiffany family design legacy is celebrated in a unique mix of exhibitions at the Nevada Museum of Art, February 11 through May 20, 2012, featuring Tiffany Studios’ stained glass of the art nouveau era and a rare collection of Tiffany & Co.’s decorative firearms. The exhibitions include Tiffany & Co. Arms from the collection of Robert M. Lee; Out of the Forest: Art Nouveau Lamps; and In Company with Angels Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows.

Tiffany & Co. Arms from the collection of Robert M. Lee will be exhibited February 11 through May 20, 2012, at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery located at 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Cost: Museum members free; $10 adults; $8 students/seniors; $1 children 6 – 12; free for children five and under. For more information, please call 775.329.3333 or visit www.nevadaart.org.

Smith & Wesson Presentation Frontier Tiffany & Co Revolver
Smith & Wesson Presentation and Exhibition Frontier Tiffany & Co. Revolver, circa 1892-93. Robert M. Lee Collection © 2012 Robert M. Lee Trust. All rights reserved. No reproduction of photos without prior permission.

About Nevada Museum of Art

The Nevada Museum of Art is a museum of ideas. The only accredited art museum in the state, it is a private, non-profit organization supported by the generosity of its membership as well as by sponsorships and grants. Through creative programming and scholarship, the Museum provides the opportunity for people to encounter, engage and enjoy a diversity of art experiences. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, late on Thursdays until 8 pm. The galleries, Museum Store and Café Musée are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and national holidays. Admission is FREE for members, $10 General Admission, $8 Student / Senior, $1 children 6 to 12 years, and free for children 5 and under. Museum Membership starts at just $25.

Nevada Museum of Art

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some amazing workmanship to accompany the beautiful designs. awesome.