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Auction Date: December 4, 2016

Lot 3007: Buffalo Bill Presentation Winchester-1895-Carbine

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Rare, Historic and Extraordinarily Well Documented Winchester Deluxe Model 1895 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine Presented by Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody) to Deadwood Businessman and Friend M.R. "Gold Nugget Mike/Deadwood Mike" Russell with Factory Letter
Estimated Price: $150,000 - $350,000
Item Views 188 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Buffalo Bill Presentation Winchester-1895-Carbine ManufacturerWinchester Model1895-Carbine
TypeCarbine Gauge30 U.S. Catalog Page12
Barrel22 Inch Round FinishBlue Grip
Stockdeluxe walnut checkered ClassCurio & Relic Long Gun RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis is a rare deluxe version of the Winchester Model 1895 lever action carbine that was factory documented as presented by famed Wild West legend and showman Buffalo Bill to Deadwood, South Dakota, business mogul and longtime friend Mike Russell. This carbine serial number 38732 is pictured and described in R.L. Wilson's book "Buffalo Bill's Wild West: An American Legend" (pages 179 and 181). Cody used a Model 1895 on hunting expeditions, and he is known to have presented Model 1895s to friends. Also pictured and described in Wilson's book is a similar deluxe Model 1895 carbine that Buffalo Bill presented to David F. Powell, serial number 48751 (pages 179 and 181). Both of these carbines have a deluxe stock featuring a silver stock presentation plaque. Another presentation Model 1895 was presented to Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow Nation by Prince Albert of Monaco. At the time, Prince Albert was visiting Cody, Wyoming, and hunting with Buffalo Bill. Although Buffalo Bill did not personally present the rifle to Chief Plenty Coups, film footage of the presentation shows Cody present at the ceremony, even holding the gun, which had an engraved plaque on the stock. Speaking to Buffalo Bill's generosity, former Senior Curator of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Dr. Paul Fees stated, "[Buffalo Bill] is known to have made several gifts after 1895, all Winchesters. After 1895 he is known to have purchased and presented several Model 1895 Winchesters in .30 government or .405 caliber to adult friends." The factory letter lists the date of serialization as October 2, 1902; confirms the carbine configuration; .30 caliber; oil finished fancy, checkered stock; Lyman front and receiver mounted sights; the "Coin silver plate in stock engraved: "Presented to M. R. Russel by his friend Col. W. F. Cody - Buffalo Bill"; "Name on right side frame: "M. R. Russell"; received in the warehouse on October 23, 1902, and shipped the following day as order number 151629.The silver inscription plaque on this carbine is found on the left side of the buttstock and reads, "PRESENTED TO/M.R. Russell,/BY HIS FRIEND/COL. W.F. Cody/Buffalo Bill." The right side of the receiver is marked "M.R. RUSSELL." The carbine is equipped with a pinned beaded blade front sight, military style folding leaf rear sight with tangent base and Lyman receiver sight. A saddle ring staple with ring is mounted on the left side of the receiver. The left side of the receiver also has the long two line address/patent information. The upper tang is marked "WINCHESTER/-MODEL 1895-." The top of the chamber has the caliber marking "30." Mounted with a highly figured finger grooved forearm, handguard and straight grip stock. The forearm and stock wrist feature multi-point checkering. The buttstock is fitted with a crescent buttplate with compartment. In 1863 Mike Russell arrived in the United States from Tipperary, Ireland, with $12.00 in his pocket and big dreams of fortune awaiting him on the Western frontier swirling in his head. He took a job with the Kansas-Pacific Railroad, and by the time he arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota, in early 1877, he had befriended buffalo hunter and future famed wild west showman William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and $516.00 to his name, which he used to start a saloon. Legend states that his nickname "Gold Nugget Mike" was in reference to a heavy chain of Black Hills nuggets that crossed Russell's vest. Russell also went by the nickname "Deadwood Mike," possibly a playful moniker inspired by the popular period fictional dime novel character Deadwood Dick. In Deadwood, his dream of making it big on the Western frontier had been realized. The story goes that Russell was so successful that his wealth was able to help Buffalo Bill out of a financial jam. After hearing that his friend was short of funds while performing in England, Russell wired Buffalo Bill $20,000 on a day's notice. A grateful Buffalo Bill showed his appreciation by sending a stuffed buffalo for Russell's Buffalo Bar, which was named after the legendary showman and for over a century has operated on Main Street, living on today as part of the Buffalo Bodega Complex. Russell and Buffalo Bill met in Kansas in the 1860s, and according to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, "Russell was probably Cody's oldest and closet friends." Around 1895, Russell sold Cody cattle and horses under Russell's TE Brand, which Cody used to establish the TE Ranch southwest of Cody, Wyoming. At the time of Cody's death the 4,000 acre property, which borders the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, supported 500 head of cattle. After Cody died in 1917, Russell remained in contact with the Cody family until his death in 1930. Cody received the nickname "Buffalo Bill" when after the Civil War he supplied Kansas-Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. Note that the Kansas-Pacific was the same railroad Russell worked for before settling in Deadwood. Purportedly Buffalo Bill killed 4,282 buffalo in an 18 month period between 1867 and 1868. In 1883, he founded "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", a circus-like extravaganza that toured widely for three decades in the United States and later throughout Europe. His legendary show was a highly popular form of late 19th century entertainment that featured Native Americans and cowboys performing elaborate productions, which helped to solidify the legend of the American Western Frontier that still resonates today. During its existence, the show featured performances by people who are forever synonymous with the Western frontier and include such notables as Buck Taylor "King of the Cowboys," Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, Sitting Bull, Johnny Baker "The Cowboy Kid," Rough Rider Billy McGinty, Pawnee Bill, Dr. William Frank Carver, Montana Frank and Calamity Jane. In the winter of 1886, the show was retooled for an impressive four act indoor performance at Madison Square Garden. Famed American novelist Mark Twain admitted, "[The show] brought vividly back the breezy wild life of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, and stirred me like a war-song." In 1887, the show traveled to Europe. In all, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West toured Europe eight times. The first four tours occurred between 1887 and 1892 and the last four from 1902 to 1906, bringing to Europe an exotic form of American entertainment. Buffalo Bill was an international superstar. Speaking to Buffalo Bill's worldwide fame, Mark Twain stated, "It is often said on the other side of the water that none of the exhibitions which we send to England are purely and distinctly American. If you will take the Wild West show over there you can remove that reproach."

ConditionVery fine. The carbine retains 70% plus original blue finish with a smooth brown patina on the balance. The wood is fine showing a couple deep pressure dents and a number of minor handling marks with overall crisp checkering. An outstanding national treasure worthy piece from the Wild West with exceptional provenance. Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
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