Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1018: Winchester 1873 Rifle 32-20 WCF

Auction Date: December 5, 2015

Exceptional Factory Engraved, Gold and Nickel-Plated Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Rifle with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $95,000 - $160,000

Exceptional Factory Engraved, Gold and Nickel-Plated Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Rifle with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 32-20 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: gold/nickel-plated
Stock: walnut checkered
Item Views: 3443
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 14
Class: Antique

This is a spectacular example of a deluxe, special order, factory engraved, Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action rifle. The rifle is accompanied by a Cody Firearms Record Office letter that describes it as: "Type: Rifle, Caliber: 32, Barrel Type: Round, Trigger: Set, Engraved: Engraved $3.20, Barrel & Magazine Nickeled" and "Receiver, Butt plate & tip Gold". The letter states this rifle was shipped from the Winchester warehouse on May 21, 1884. The rifle has a 24-inch round barrel and full length magazine and is fitted with a single set-trigger. The barrel and magazine are nickel-plated. The barrel has a Beach folding combination front sight and a sporting style buckhorn rear sight. A Lyman folding combination sight is mounted on the receiver tang. The forearm cap, receiver, dust cover and crescent buttplate are gold plated. The loading gate has a fire-blue finish. The hammer, trigger and lever are color casehardened, The stock and forearm are nicely figured, fancy grain walnut with second style fine checkered panels and a high polish piano finish. The forearm cap, receiver, dust cover and buttplate heel are decorated with restrained scroll engraving on a punch-dot background with a game scene on each side plate. The game scene on the right sideplate features a grizzly bear while the left sideplate features a bull elk in profile. The engraving is the medium grade of Winchester factory engraving. Model 1873 rifles serial number 121172 and 127938 have similar engraving and are illustrated on pages 184 and 185 of "THE BOOK OF WINCHESTER ENGRAVING" by R.L Wilson. The engraving was probably executed by John or Conrad Ulrich. 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 two lines ahead of the rear sight. The caliber designation: "32-CAL" is stamped on the top of the barrel immediately in front of the receiver. "32 CAL" is roll-engraved in script letters across the gold-plated brass cartridge elevator. The serial number, "148088A", is engraved in script numerals on the lower tang behind the lever latch. The assembly number "5332" is stamped in the stock tang inlet, lower receiver tang and the inside of the buttplate. "XX" is also stamped on the left side of the lower tang indicating the grade of the fancy grain walnut stock and forearm. An "R" designation indicating "rifle" is stamped on the left side of the lower tang and on the inside of the buttplate. The combination of a factory nickel-plated barrel and gold-plated forearm cap, receiver and buttplate is striking and very rare.

Rating Definition:

Excellent. The rifle is all original and retains 97% plus of the nickel and gold-plated finish with strong case colors on the hammer, trigger and lever. Nearly all of the fire blue finish is present on the loading gate. Finish wear on the barrel is limited to a few spots of age discoloration on the lower left side between the barrel band and forearm cap. The forearm cap, receiver and dust cover retain nearly all of the gold plated finish with some scattered and very minor edge wear and age spotting. The buttplate has close to 90% of the gold-plated finish with some edge wear at the heel and toe and some scattered age spotting. The engraved game scenes and scrollwork are extremely sharp. The fancy grade stock and forearm are in excellent condition and retain more than 95% of the high polish piano finish with only very minimal handling and storage wear. The checkering is sharp and shows very limited handling wear. This is a striking example of a deluxe, special order, Winchester Model 1873 rifle with rarely encountered nickel and gold-plated finish and factory engraving.

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