Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3010: Presentation Engraved and Inscribed Winchester Model 1866 Rifle

Auction Date: September 10, 2017

Documented Magnificent Deluxe Factory Engraved and Presentation Inscribed Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $75,000 - $120,000

Documented Magnificent Deluxe Factory Engraved and Presentation Inscribed Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1866
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 RF
Barrel: 24 inch octagon
Finish: blue/gold
Stock: varnished walnut
Item Views: 3398
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 10
Class: Antique

Manufactured in 1871. The left side plate is engraved with the bold inscription: "H. Reynolds./New Haven Ct./Feb 1st, 1872." This rifle is illustrated and described in multiple R.L. Wilson books such as "Winchester Engraving" on page 84, “Winchester: American Legend” on pages 23 and 336 and “Steel Canvas” on page 156. Wilson also indicates it was pictured in “Antique Arms Annual, 1971.” According to Wilson, H. Reynolds was a Winchester parts contractor and the engraving was executed by master engraver John Ulrich. The basic engraving patterns, inscription style, date, and general design also match the A.S. Warner presentation inscribed rifle pictured on page 78 of “Winchester Engraving.” Warner is identified as a gun mechanic and inventor. Additional research indicates that Amaziah S. Warner (1817-1896) of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Henry Reynolds (1834-?), of New Haven, Connecticut, patented an improved machine for drawing cartridge shells on July 10, 1866. Warner had started out in the machinist trade in 1836 and worked at the Springfield Armory for approximately 6 years. He is listed as a cartridge manufacturer in Springfield in the 1860s and into the late 19th century including in an 1861 Springfield directory in which Reynolds is listed as a machinist. In later period sources, Reynolds is identified as the president of Reynolds & Co., a screw, bolt, and molding machine manufacturer in New Haven. He is also listed as an assignee on an “Ellis & White Cartridge” patent reissued on August 25, 1863, along with Ebenezer H. Plant, Amzi P. Plant, and Alfred Hotchkiss for “Improvement in Metallic Cartridges.” Willard Ellis and John White were backed by Reynolds and the other assignees for their front-loading revolver design that was manufactured by Plant Mfg. Co in New Haven. James Reynolds (1836-1916), one of his younger brothers, ran Reynolds Brass Foundry in New Haven. The rifle has a gold plated forearm cap, receiver, and crescent buttplate. The 24-inch octagon barrel and full length magazine are blued, and the hammer and lever are color casehardened. The loading gate has a fire blue finish. The stock and forearm are nicely figured, select grade walnut with a piano finish. The barrel has a Winchester globe front sight and Henry style folding leaf rear sight with 900 yard center notch, elevation bar stop screw, and elevation bar with square ends. A Sharps style folding sporting style rear sight with flat sight disk is mounted on the upper tang. It has the Third Model features which include receiver with moderate curve at the rear of the frame and serial number stamped in block numerals on the lower tang behind the trigger. The forearm cap and stock are fitted with Winchester sling swivels. The hammer spur has fine knurling with a border on the bottom. The indented loading gate is secured by a single screw. The buttplate has a hinged trapdoor. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "WINCHESTER'S REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CT./KING'S-IMPROVEMENT-PATENTED-MARCH 29. 1866. OCTOBER 16. 1860." ahead of the rear sight. The serial number "96020 A" is stamped on the lower tang behind the trigger and surrounded by engraved flourishes. The receiver including the upper and lower tang, buttplate heel, and forearm cap feature German scrollwork on a punch dot background with double line and scalloped borders. A running hare is engraved within the scrollwork on the right side of the receiver, and a running hound is engraved in the scrollwork on the left side. The right side plate features "a stylish open panel". The assembly number "96020" is stamped on the buttplate and upper tang stock cut-out, and "XX" is stamped on the side of the lower tang.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. This magnificent rifle is all original and retains nearly 85% of the original gold plated finish. 40% of the original blue finish is present on the barrel and magazine; the balance of the blue has aged to a deep plum patina. The barrel edges are sharp, and the barrel legend is crisp. Most of the fire blue finish is present on the loading gate cover. The forearm cap and receiver retain at least 95% of the original gold plated finish with some very minor high point wear. The buttplate shows wear on contact points and has about 60% of the gold plated finish. The case colors on the hammer, trigger, and lever have aged to a mottled brown patina. The flawlessly executed engraving, game animals, and bold inscription remain extremely sharp. The select grade walnut stock and forearm retain nearly 90% of the original piano finish and show minimal handling wear. This is a magnificent example of a deluxe factory engraved and inscribed presentation Winchester Model 1866 rifle that would be hard to improve upon. Provenance: Ivan B. Hart Collection, The Press Collection, and Robert M. Lee Collection.

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