Included with the rifle is a binder of documents. Among them is the sign that accompanied the rifle when it was on display at the Cody Firearms Museum. It states: "This rifle is the prototype for William Mason's design of a takedown system for John Browning's Single Shot Rifle." The 1988 letter from the Herbert G. Houze at the Winchester Arms Museum states: "two features indicate that it was produced by the Winchester company on an experimental basis." The first is that the relieved sides of the breechblock were an experimental concept designed to reduce weight and aid in the vertical movement of the breechblock. Second, a thumb screw on the right serves as an experimental takedown lever. Houze states it is "identical to that designed by Mason in 1886 and tried experimentally on both a Model 1886 Rifle and a Model 1887 Shotgun. Both these arms, as well as drawings of the system, are in the collection of the Winchester Arms Museum." As noted above, included documents also indicate this rifle was placed on display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Cody Firearms Museum from 1991until 2001. A letter from the museum's curator states they "Received. . .one (1) Winchester Model 1885 William Mason Experimental Takedown Rifle, serial number 34955 in near factory new condition." The presumed chronological provenance based on the consignor's information includes: William Randolph Hearst Collection, Dr. Howard Andrews Collection, Jim Serven 1949 Catalog, Unknown Buyer 1949, Hank Williams, Jr. 1970s, H.H. Bitz 1970s, Kidd Brothers 1988, and Frank Kelley 2001. The included factory letters confirm the rifle was originally received in the warehouse and shipped on August 24, 1889, in .22 Long Rifle with a "#2, 26 inch, 1/2 octagon barrel;" plain trigger; fancy oil finished, checkered pistol grip stock with shotgun butt and rubber buttplate; no platinum line in the Rocky Mountain front sight and a hammer stop at 1/2 cock. The rifle was "Returned and repaired on September 30, 1907." A letter from George Madis lists some information on William Mason including that he was employed at Winchester starting in 1882 and was a master mechanic from 1885 to 1910. The barrel has a gold washed combination blade and globe front sight, adjustable sporting rear sight, the two line address ahead of the rear sight, "25 W.C.F." at the breech and several small factory markings including "2"s on the bottom of the barrel. A fancy "P" is stamped on the front face of the action to the left. The upper tang is fitted with a mid-range Vernier peep sight with extra long rear screw that extends past the lower tang. The lower tang has the serial number and patent marking on the bottom and "3493 XXX S RB" on the left side. The upper tang inlet on the stock also has "3493." The forearm and grip have multi-point checkering and ebony inlays. The buttplate is checkered and has an emblem of an eagle on rocks. It has been rechambered and rifled for .28-30 Stevens cartridge.
Very fine as modified to experimental takedown configuration. 95% of the blue finish and vivid case colors remain. There is some slight fading at edges and some minor scratches and marks. The buttstock is very fine as refinished and has a pieced repair on the toe, crisp checkering and some water damage under the finish. The forearm is very fine and has crisp checkering and minor handling and storage marks. Mechanically fine and the markings are crisp throughout.
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