Like the 1911, it was designed in a time when labor was cheap, with the only overhead for your workforce being the amount of money you put in their pockets every payday.And in response to a post lamenting the price tag on used Smith revos:
There were no HR departments or pensions or scholarship programs or paternity leaves or paid sick time or any of that other stuff. No OSHA and no EPA to monitor plant emissions. You could pay people a squat-oh-nine a day to inspect the work and if they didn't do a good job, fire them and hire the next one standing at the factory door.
I was taking a little Mauser 1910 .25 apart to take some pictures the other day, and the amount of machining and (no doubt) hand-fitting that went into that pocket pistol that sold for a pittance in its day was just practically obscene to modern eyes. Every single part of that gun was whittled from a block of steel. For every Mauser 1910 that came out the factory door, there were probably two more in the form of iron filings and metal chips on the factory floor. It was like looking at gold leaf toilet paper.
The market for medium-frame centerfire Smiths was artificially depressed through the Nineties and into the early Aughties as the glut of po-po trade-ins moved through the market like a pig through a python. This coincided with a lot of people getting into Smith collecting because it was the workingman's alternative to collecting Colt's. Up until just ten years or so ago, the only Smith Hand Ejectors that brought big money were prewar large-frame guns and some rare and hard-to-find variants.
Now the police trade-in supply has pretty much dried up, and this coincides with Smith collecting becoming a respected discipline within the larger avocation of firearms curating. Prices will only be going up. (Personally, I'm pretty much priced out of the Hand Ejector market. It was fun while it lasted, though.)
Look on the bright side of things: You could be a Colt's fan. Pythons and Diamondbacks have always been expensive, but they've gone off-the-charts looney tunes flat-out crazy in the last few years. Half the Pythons I've seen lately have been stickered for more than I paid for my Subaru.