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Auction Date: September 10, 2017

Lot 3038: Fine Civil War Era New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

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Fine Civil War Era New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle
Estimated Price: $50,000 - $70,000
Item Views 857 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Fine Civil War Era New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle ManufacturerNew Haven Arms Co. ModelHenry Rifle
TypeRifle Gauge44 Henry RF Catalog Page40
Barrel24 Inch Octagon FinishBlue/casehardened Grip
Stockvarnished walnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis is an example of a fine Henry lever action rifle that was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co. in April 1863. The rifle has the distinctive octagon barrel with integral 15-shot magazine and brass receiver and buttplate. The rifle has the first style receiver with rear sight dovetail manufactured until late 1863 and first style brass buttplate with rounded heel. The barrel has a square-back, nickel silver, front sight blade. The standard folding leaf rear sight has been replaced during the period of usage with a finely made fixed, buckhorn rear sight mounted in the barrel dovetail. The magazine is fitted with the second style, large diameter follower, and the receiver has the beveled follower slot utilized with the second style follower. The rifle is not fitted with the factory sling swivel and screw-mounted loop that were attached to the left side of the stock and barrel of many Henry rifles. The sling swivel and loop were extra cost items in 1863 and did not become standard features on Henry rifles until 1864. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the first style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEW HAVEN ARMS. CO. NEW HAVEN. CT." in two lines ahead of the rear sight dove tail. This first style legend utilized serif (Roman) letters for the all the legend except the final "NEW HAVEN" which was stamped in block letters. The second style legend adopted in 1864 utilized all serif letters. The serial number, "2211", is stamped: (1) on the top barrel flat behind the rear sight dovetail, (2) on the lower left side of the receiver tang, (3) in the upper tang inlet of the stock, (4) on the inside of the buttplate at the heel, (5) on the shanks of both hand-fitted buttplate screws and (6) on the shanks of all three tang screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. The "W" inspection mark utilized by Oliver Winchester is stamped on the bottom of the lower tang behind the lever latch. The barrel and integral magazine are blued, the hammer, lever and trigger are color casehardened, and the receiver and buttplate have the natural brass finish. The straight grain American walnut stock has the varnish finish found on most Henry rifles. Oliver Winchester had limited success marketing the Henry rifle to the Ordnance Department. However, from the start of regular production in March 1862, the rifle was favorable received by federal soldiers who appreciated the firepower offered by the 15-shot lever-action repeating rifle. As a result, most of the Henry rifles manufactured during the Civil War were privately purchased by individual soldiers. The Henry rifle was especially popular with soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky who purchased many Henry rifles from Winchester dealers located in Louisville, Kentucky.

ConditionFine. The rifle retains at 25% plus of the original blue finish. The balance of the barrel/magazine has a smooth, blue-brown patina. The barrel/magazine shows only minor wear on high points with a few insignificant handling marks. The New Haven Arms Co. legend and serial number are clear. The fine original brass receiver and buttplate have an attractive, untouched patina. The receiver is in very good overall condition with a few very minor handling marks and tight side plate joints. The buttplate is in the same good condition as the receiver. The hammer, trigger and lever retain about 30% of the mottled gray-brown case colors with smooth surface finish. The stock is also in fine overall condition and has at least 70% of the original finish. Wear is limited to a few light scratches and handling marks. This is an outstanding example of an 1863 production Henry rifle that is typical of the privately purchased rifles carried by Union soldiers in the Chattanooga and Atlanta campaigns in 1863 and 1864.
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