Henry Lever Action Rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company in October 1862. The rifle has the distinctive octagon barrel with integral 15-shot magazine and brass (gunmetal) receiver and buttplate. The barrel/magazine is blued, the hammer and lever are color casehardened and the straight grain American walnut stock is oil finished. The rifle has the first pattern receiver with alternate rear sight dovetail and early buttplate with rounded heel. The barrel has an early style, half-moon shaped, nickel-silver front sight blade and dovetail mounted, folding leaf, rear sight. This first style rear sight has "1000" marked below the center notch at the top of the leaf and narrow elevator bar with rounded ends. The magazine has the small diameter follower and the lower receiver has the early, straight follower cut. The buttplate and tang have hand-fitted, serial numbered, screws. The rifle stock and barrel are not fitted with a sling swivel or hook for sling loop which were special order items on early production Henry rifles. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the first style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS. CO. NEWHAVEN. CT" in two lines. This legend is approximately 2 17/32 inches long and uses serif letters for all the marking except the second "NEWHAVEN" which is stamped in block letters. The serial number, "953" is stamped: (1) on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and the receiver, (2) on the lower left side of the receiver tang beneath the stock, (3) in the upper tang inlet of the stock, (4) the inside of the buttplate heel, (5) on the shanks of the two hand-fitted buttplate screws and (6) on the shanks of the two short tang screws. Only early production Henry rifles had serial numbered tang screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. The Henry rifle was the most advanced rifle available during the Civil War. Although the federal government armed only one regiment (1st District of Columbia Cavalry) with Henry rifles, it is generally believed that most Henry rifles manufactured during the Civil War were privately purchased by individual soldiers who wanted the advantage of a 15-shot, lever action repeating rifle. Most of the early sales of Henry rifles were made by New Haven Arms Co., agents in Louisville, Kentucky and surrounding states. Henry rifles proved to be especially popular with Midwestern soldiers. By 1864 several Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky regiments were armed with significant numbers of privately purchased Henry rifles.
Fine. This early Henry rifle is all original and retains 40% of the original blue finish which is abundant in the protected areas of the barrel. The blue on the barrel/magazine has aged to a good-looking, plum brown patina. The barrel/magazine has sharp edges with crisp address and serial number. Wear is limited to a few minor dents and scratches. The delicate folding leaf rear sight is complete and has crisp markings. The brass receiver and buttplate have not been polished and have an attractive patina. The receiver has scattered, minor, dents and scratches with tight side-plate joints. The buttplate shows moderate wear with slight scratches on the heel and toe and some small patches of age discoloration. The hammer, trigger and lever have an even brown patina. The stock is in very good condition and retains about 75% of the original varnish finish with moderate handling wear. The stock has stains on the sides of the wrist and has several light dents and scratches. This is a very fine example of a first year production Henry rifle that remains in outstanding condition.
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