This special order, factory engraved Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle was manufactured in 1876. This rifle has the first model receiver with grooved dust cover guides and dust cover with checkered oval finger grip. The early style loading lever latch has visible threads. The barrel has a rare dovetail mounted Freund front sight with Freund marked base and special Freund folding leaf rear sight with 1,000 yard leaf marked "1876" and Freund markings on the sight base. The rifle has a special order half magazine, single set trigger and checkered steel shotgun buttplate. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped "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 serial number, "23660", is engraved on the lower tang behind the lever latch. The barrel is correctly not marked with a caliber designation. The bottom of the cartridge elevator is covered with engraving, and the upper tang is fully covered with engraved scrollwork and flowing ribbon. The barrel, trigger and loading gate are blued, and the hammer and lever are color casehardened. The magazine tip, forearm cap, receiver, dust cover, cartridge elevator and shotgun buttplate are silver plated. The stock and forearm are deluxe, fancy grade, high figured walnut with a high polish piano finish. The stock wrist and forearm are checkered. The forearm cap, receiver, dust cover, cartridge elevator and buttplate heel are profusely relief engraved with six panel scenes surrounded by dense scrollwork on a punch dot and lined background. A round panel on the right front of the receiver is relief engraved with a crest, a ribbon with a motto, a monogram and the date "NOV.1. 1876". The lower tang is signed "J.ULRICH" in tiny letters. The rifle is accompanied by a factory letter that describes it as: "Type: Rifle, Barrel Type: Octagon, Barrel Length: 26 inches, Trigger: Set, Engraved and gold and Shot gun stock. The rifle retains most of the silver under-layment. The letter states this rifle was shipped from Winchester on November 14, 1876. The engraving on this rifle is illustrated and described on page 149 of "Winchester Engraving" by R.L. Wilson. Wilson's description states that this rifle was made for Julius B. Sheldon who was active in manufacturing in the New Haven, Connecticut, area.
Exceptionally fine. The barrel retains nearly 90% of the original blue finish with sharp factory legend. Most of the fire blue finish is present on the loading gate and trigger. The forearm cap, magazine tip, receiver, dust cover and cartridge elevator have 90% or more of the silver plated finish underlayment with traces of gold visible on the tang and interior. The shotgun buttplate has about 80% of the silver plated finish. The hammer and lever show strong case colors. The highly detailed game scenes, monogram and dense scrollwork are extremely sharp. The highly figured walnut stock and forearm retain 90% or more of the high polish piano finish with light-moderate handling wear. The checkered panels are sharp. This is a superb example of of the extraordinary level of craftsmanship available on 19th century Winchester rifles.
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