Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 11: Documented, Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873

Auction Date: December 1, 2017

Documented, Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Military Windgauge Rear Sight and Factory Letter

Estimated Price: $30,000 - $40,000

Documented, Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Military Windgauge Rear Sight and Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 32 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch part octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: walnut checkered
Item Views: 8150
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 14
Class: Antique

Identified, special order, deluxe Winchester Model 1873 Sporting rifle manufactured in 1889. This rifle is accompanied by a Winchester Gun Museum factory letter dated 1973, a Winchester Firearms Museum letter dated 1982 and a copy of a magazine article that discusses the rear sight and other special order features, and identifies the original owner of the rifle. The 1982 letter lists the data for "Model 1873, Serial Number 324821" as: "rifle, 32 caliber, 1/2 octagon barrel, plain trigger, sling and swivel, case hardened, checkered stock, pistol grip, shotgun butt, rubber buttplate, 1/2 magazine, military windgauge sight, plain front sight", and "Nice shooter". The letter states that this rifle was shipped from Winchester on December 27, 1889. The accompanying article entitled, "A Very Special Winchester 1873 s/n 324821" by Warren Webster and Rick Hill focuses on the special military windgauge rear sight, front sight and shotgun buttplate. The article states that this rifle was probably ordered by A.C. Gould who edited the magazine "Shooting and Fishing" and published "Modern American Rifles" under the pen name Ralph Greenwood in 1892. Gould was one of the founders of the National Rifle Association and a proponent of long-range rifle shooting. The article states that the Gould/Greenwood described the special military windgauge rear sight on this rifle along with the ideal target front sight, caliber and buttplate for a target/hunting rifle in "Modern American Rifles" and conclude that this rifle was owned by A.C. Gould. In fact, his pen name is hand marked on the backside of the buttplate. This rifle has the special military windgauge rear sight with special screw-adjustable elevation bar, 1/8-inch wide steel front sight blade and hard rubber, checkered, shotgun buttplate with Winchester logo in the center. All of these special order features are described in detail by Gould/Greenwood in "Modern American Rifles". In addition to the special order sights and buttplate, the rifle has a 24-inch half-round/half-octagon barrel, half magazine, sling swivels on the forearm cap and stock and factory drilled and tapped receiver tang. The forearm and pistol grip stock are deluxe, highly figured, fancy grain walnut with Winchester "Style H" checkering. The bottom of the pistol grip has an ebony insert. The Third Model receiver has an integral dust cover rail, dust cover with serrated rear edges and the rounded top found on Model 1873 rifles in .32 and small calibers. The barrel and magazine have the Winchester charcoal blue finish. The dust cover is high polish blue and the loading gate is fire blue. The forearm cap, receiver, hammer, trigger and lever are color casehardened. The stock and forearm have a high gloss, piano, finish. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped "WINCHESTER'S REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CONN. U.S.A./-KING'S IMPROVEMENT MARCH 29. 1866. OCTOBER 16. 1860.-" in two lines ahead of the rear sight. The caliber, "32 W.C.F.", is roll-stamped on the top barrel flat ahead of the receiver. "32 CAL" is stamped in script across the bottom of the cartridge elevator. The upper receiver tang is roll-stamped "- MODEL 1873-" in fancy letters with foliate devices at either end. The serial number is stamped in small numerals across the lower tang between the lever latch and the rear tang screw.

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine overall. This unique Model 1873 rifle is all original very limited careful handling and shooting associated wear. The barrel has 80% of the original blue finish intact with traces of finish wear on the edges and a small and almost unnoticeable (3/4-inch by 1/3-inch) area of pitting on the left side of the barrel just above the forearm ahead of the rear sight. The special front and rear sights have nearly all of the dark, oil-quenched, finish intact and the rear sight leaf spring retains 95% of the nitre blue. The Winchester legend and caliber markings are crisp. The dust cover and bolt have most of the high polish blue finish intact. The loading gate retains 75% of the fire blue finish. 85% plus of the vivid case colors are present of the forearm cap, receiver, hammer, trigger and lever. The highly finished fancy grain stock and forearm retain 95% of the piano finish with sharp checkering. Wear is limited to one tiny dent in the right side of the stock behind the pistol grip and a few scattered and very minor handling marks. It is unusual to identify the owner of any Winchester rifle. Identification of this deluxe Model 1873 rifle with unique sights and other special order features to a prominent 19th Century shooter and author A.C. Gould makes this a one-of-a-kind Model 1873 rifle worthy of a place in the finest firearms collection.

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