Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3001: New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle 44 Henry

Auction Date: September 7, 2012

Magnificent Documented Patriotic Engraved, U.S. Contract, New Haven Arms Co., Civil War Henry Lever Action Rifle Illustrated in Two Henry Rifle Books

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $85,000 - $130,000

Magnificent Documented Patriotic Engraved, U.S. Contract, New Haven Arms Co., Civil War Henry Lever Action Rifle Illustrated in Two Henry Rifle Books

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 2001
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 6
Class: Antique

Accompanied by a 25 page letter from world famous author and firearms expert R.L. Wilson. U.S. Contract Henry rifle manufactured in December 1864 and purchased by the Ordnance Department as part of the final contracts for 627 Henry rifles executed on April 7 and May 19, 1865. The 1865 Henry rifle contracts were for rifles to arm the four U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry (VVI) regiments organized during the winter of 1864-1865. These regiments were intended to form an elite corps under Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. The U.S. VVI regiments were to be armed with Henry, Spencer and Sharps rifles. As an incentive for enlistment, members of the U.S. VVI regiments were authorized to keep their rifles when they were discharged. Approximately 800 Henry rifles were issued to the 3rd U.S. VVI Regiment (627 of these rifles were purchased by the Ordnance Department in April and May 1865 and the remainder were part of the 800 rifle contract entered by the Ordnance Department in December 1863 for Henry rifles for the 1st D.C. Cavalry Regiment. This rifle is listed by serial number on page 75 of "THE HISTORIC HENRY RIFLE" by Wiley Sword as one of the Henry rifles issued to Companies B, C, I, H and K of the 3rd Regiment, U.S. VVI. The rifle has period, post-Civil War, engraving that features an Eagle and Shield with crossed flags on the left side of the frame and a U.S. Shield, crossed flags and a five-pointed star on the right side of the frame. The left side plate is engraved with the owner's name and unit "C. Streibig/Co. B. 3d Regt. U.S.V.V.". This rifle was formerly part of the Norm Vegely collection and the engraved receiver is illustrated on page 151 of "THE HENRY RIFLE" by Les Quick. The caption below the illustration states that the patriotic engraving style on this rifle is attributed to Lockwood Stanford of New Haven Connecticut. Also accompanying this rifle are copies of Corporeal Streibig's military record, which states: "muster-in, May 5, 1861. He was promoted to Corporal in 1862 and held that rank until he muster-out in late 1864. Wilson writes in his letter: "Patriotic decorations on Henry rifles which appear in "The book of Winchester Engraving", and "Winchester Engraving" are specifically patriotic in nature and usually have the name of the owner of the rifle inscribed on the receiver often accompanied by his military unit. Corporeal Streibig's rifle is considered among the very best of this genre." The rifle has a blued octagon barrel with integral magazine. The barrel has the second style, brass square back front sight and late style folding leaf rear sight with retaining screw at the top of the leaf and 900 yard center notch. The rifle has the later large cartridge follower and late milled, flared follower flats on the frame. The rifle has the distinctive Henry brass frame and second style brass buttplate with pointed heel. The hammer and lever have a casehardened finish. A factory sling swivel is inlaid on the left side of the stock and the left side of the barrel has the standard screw-fastened sling loop. The stock is straight grain black walnut with a varnish finish. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the second style legend "HENRY'S PAT.OCT.16.1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN CT." in two lines with all serifed letters. The serial number, "7692." is stamped on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and the frame. The serial number is also stamped on the lower left side of the tang, in the upper tang inlet of the stock and on the inside of the buttplate. All of the visible serial numbers match. The late style cap head machine screws on the buttplate and tang are correctly not stamped with the rifle serial number like the hand-fitted screws on early Henry rifles. A small Ordnance sub-inspection mark "JT" is stamped on the left side of the stock wrist immediately behind the frame. This is the only Ordnance inspection mark found on the 627 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in 1865. The rifle is complete with the four-piece steel cleaning rod with brass tip furnished with each rifle after about serial number 4,000.

Rating Definition:

Fine. The rifle has all of the original components. The brass frame and buttplate have a very attractive, untouched patina with minimal handling or storage marks. The side plate joints on the frame are perfect. The engraving is crisp and deep. The blue finish on the crisp barrel and integral magazine has aged to a smooth plum brown patina. The barrel edges are sharp and the New Haven Arms legend and rifle serial number are crisp. The rear sight leaf has original blue finish in protected areas with sharp markings; the sight base has some shallow pitting. The hammer and lever have a mottled, gray-brown patina with traces of the original casehardened finish visible on the sides. The stock is in very good condition with only very minor handling wear but has had a protective coat of old varnish applied. This is an exceptional example of an identified, period engraved, late production U.S. Contract Henry rifle. It would be hard to improve on this well-documented Martial Henry rifle.

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