Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 34: New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle 44 Henry RF

Auction Date: April 29, 2016

Historic Virginia City, Nevada, New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle

Estimated Price: $45,000 - $75,000

Historic Virginia City, Nevada, New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1195
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 20
Class: Antique

Henry lever action rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company in July 1864. The right barrel flat is stamped "S J BLACK" and the top of the buttplate heel is stamped with the initials "S.J.B.". Documents included with the rifle state that it was purchased at a gun show in Carson City, Nevada, in 1974. Subsequent research by the purchaser determined that Samuel J. Black came to the Nevada Territory in 1859 and, along with his brother, John L. Black, built the first brick building in Virginia City in 1862 and operated the "Black & Howell General Store. On May 5, 1888, S.J. Black murdered John L. Black in the living quarters of the Black & Howell store following a property dispute. The rifle has the distinctive Henry octagon barrel with integral 15-shot magazine and brass receiver and crescent buttplate. The rear sight has been removed from the barrel and replaced with a unique, hooded, rear sight with circular aperture that appears to have been made from an old rifle barrel. The rifle has the standard Henry nickel-silver front sight blade, later production, large diameter, magazine follower, second style receiver without the alternate rear sight dove-tail, second style buttplate with pointed heel and sling swivel and loop for sling hook on the left side of the stock and barrel. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the larger, second style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT.16. 1860/MANUFACT'D. BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." in two lines with all serif letters. The rifle serial number, "5808" is stamped: (1) on the inside of the buttplate, (2) upper tang inlet on the stock, (3) left side of the lower receiver tang and (4) top of the barrel between the rear sight dove-tail and the receiver. The barrel serial number is partially obscured by the rear sight but all the visible serial numbers match. The buttplate screws and tang screws are correctly not serial numbered on late production Henry rifles. The small "W" inspection mark used by Oliver Winchester is stamped on the lower receiver tang behind the lever latch. This rifle is one of the very few weapons that can be documented to territorial Nevada during the peak of silver mining in the Comstock Lode.

Rating Definition:

Good. The rifle is all original with the exception of the extraordinary hooded rear sight which is a unique period replacement. The brass receiver and crescent buttplate have a handsome aged patina. The receiver side-plate joints are tight. Wear on the receiver and buttplate is limited to relatively minor storage and handling marks. The crisp original barrel, integral magazine have silver-gray patina with scattered patches of age discoloration. The barrel shows scattered dents and scratches. The barrel legend, partially visible serial number and "S.J. BLACK" marking are crisp. The case colors on the hammer, trigger and lever have aged to a mottled gray patina. The walnut stock has been exposed to the elements and exhibits moderate-heavy handling wear. This is a historic and well documented Henry rifle that is almost certainly among of the first Henry rifles brought to Nevada Territory. Writer feels that this Henry rifle ranks very high in the list of historic rifles that we have sold!

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