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Auction Date: December 4, 2015

Lot 87: Browning Arms - 1878

Sold for Browning Arms - 1878
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Historically Significant, Early John Moses Browning Single Shot Rifle Serial Number 44
Estimated Price: $6,500 - $8,500
Item Views 199 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Browning Arms - 1878 ManufacturerBrowning Arms Model1878
TypeRifle Gauge46 Catalog Page45
Barrel32 1/4 Inch Octagon FinishBlue/casehardened Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionGiven that this rifle clearly has many hand built features, is marked with a low number, and has design attributes not seen on later Browning rifles, it was likely manufactured before 1879 when Browning received his patent. The rifle has a less refined appearance than some of the later single shots produced by John Moses Browning and his younger brother Matthew in their shop in Ogden between 1878 and 1883. Some of the components show signs of hand forging and shaping. In 1883 Winchesters Vice-President and General Manager Thomas G. Bennett visited Browning in Ogden and negotiated a deal that led to Winchester purchasing the rights to manufacture Browning's single shot design and a lever action mechanism. These designs were refined into Winchester's famous Model 1885 single shot and Model 1886 lever action and set Browning on a path towards immortalization in the canon of great American firearms designers. Had Winchester not manufactured these early designs, many of his ingenious designs may have never been known at all and the firearms industry of today would no doubt be much different given his far reaching influence and the long lasting nature of his designs. The rifle is marked "J.M. BROWNING OGDEN U.T." in one line on the top of the barrel followed by "44" and in two lines on the top of the breechblock. It has a brass blade front sight two leaf rear sight, and smooth straight wrist stock and forearm. A cleaning rod with a patch attachment is fitted under the barrel and into the forearm. "JB" has been hand carved into the right side of the butt.

ConditionFair. The partially refinished rifle displays a mostly even gray patina along with patches of artificial brown and some light surface pitting. The refinished wood is fair with sections of the upper forearm edges absent, a burn mark on the comb and various dings and scrapes. The action functions very well, and the markings are legible. This is a very rare rifle. Fewer than 100 of Browning's single shot rifles are believed to have survived and most are those from the later years.
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