This is an extraordinary example of an exhibition quality Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle manufactured circa 1870 and Master Engraved (signed under lever) by Conrad F. Ulrich. This rifle is shown on the dust jacket and front piece of the 1975 edition of THE BOOK OF WINCHESTER ENGRAVING by R.L. Wilson. Pages 103-106 of this book contains a full description and eight illustrations of this impressive rifle, including a multi-page color foldout. The description states that this rifle is considered to be one of Conrad Ulrich's masterpieces. The rifle has a blue octagon barrel, full-length magazine and lever with a niter blue loading gate. The hammer and trigger are color casehardened. The brass forearm cap, frame and crescent buttplate have a gold washed finish. The stock and forearm are select fancy grain walnut with oiled high polish piano finish. The barrel is fitted with a globe front sight and the standard Model 1866 folding leaf rear sight with 1,000 yard center notch and elevation bar retaining screw at the top of the leaf. A folding leaf peep sight is mounted on the tang. The forearm cap and stock have factory sling swivels. The top of the barrel is roll stamped with the two-line legend "WINCHESTER'S-REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CT./KING'S-IMPROVEMENT-PATENTED-MARCH 29. 1866, OCTOBER 16. 1860." in an oval panel with engraved borders ahead of the rear sight. The serial number "79944" is located behind the trigger in an engraved panel. The lower tang is stamped "C.F. ULRICH" in a tiny rectangle, with "L.C." as an overstrike. The rifle frame is profusely relief-engraved. The focus of the engraving is two standing nude figures on either side of the frame and three highly detailed game scenes. In his description of this rifle, R.L. Wilson notes that the engraving on this rifle differs dramatically from the typical Winchester scroll and game scene engraving. He states that nude figures are rarely found on engraved arms from the Victorian era. The archways which frame the nudes and the use of geometric borders are also unique. The game scene on the left side of the frame depicts five running deer in the forest and in a panel with escalloped borders. The scene captures the fluid lines of animals in motion against a finely detailed forest backdrop of trees and ferns. The right side of the receiver features two game scenes. The first scene depicts a buck, doe and fawn at rest near a forest stream in a circle with escalloped borders. A second smaller scene behind the first depicts a seated hound in a circle with escalloped borders. Six horizontal geometric designs frame the loading gate and six vertical geometric designs separate the nude figure from the game scene on the left side of the frame. Smaller geometric ovals form part of the border at the front of the receiver and back of the forearm cap. The underside of the tang and the top of the buttplate heel are also engraved with relief scrollwork. The barrel is decorated with flowing scrollwork on a punch dot background. The engraving extends from the receiver along the top and sides of the barrel for six inches, on the sides of the barrel for several inches near the forearm cap and on the top and sides of the barrel for about four inches behind the muzzle. Conrad Ulrich began his engraving career with Colt and served his engraving apprenticeship primarily under the renowned Gustave Young. Ulrich left Colt in 1869 and moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he subsequently executed some of the finest Winchester engraving. Although Conrad Ulrich engraved firearms into the early 20th Century, this rifle is considered to be one of his finest and most inspired creations. It is one of the finest and best known of all engraved Winchester rifles. The combination of a relatively early production Model 1866 rifle, special order features, distinctive and flawlessly executed engraving by one of the 19th Century American masters, dramatic gold wash finish and outstanding condition make this rifle one of the most rare and desirable Winchesters extant.
Excellent. The rifle is in outstanding original condition and retains 98% of the original blue and gold washed finish. The barrel and magazine retain nearly all of the high polish blue finish. The engraving and barrel legend are extremely crisp. The loading gate has more than 95% of the fiery niter blue finish intact. Nearly all of the gold washed finish remains on the forearm cap, frame and buttplate with very minor handling wear on high points. The highly detailed engraving on the frame, forearm cap and buttplate is deep and extremely sharp. The highly figured fancy grain walnut stock and forearm are both excellent; nearly all of the oiled piano finish is present, with few extremely minor handling and storage marks. The hammer and trigger retain nearly all of the muted case colors. This magnificent Conrad Ulrich Engraved Model 1866 rifle is the ultimate engraved Model 1866 Winchester rifle, and the finest we have ever offered!
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