Manufactured in 1891. The accompanying factory letter lists this short rifle with a 20 inch octagon barrel in .44 caliber, set trigger, fancy checkered stock, sporting leaf sight, sling swivels and factory engraved for the additional cost of $4.00 when it was received in the warehouse on April 25, 1891, and shipped on April 29. The serial number was applied for on March 23, 1891. Model 1873 rifles with special short barrels of 22-inches or less are rare. This example has the added rarity of being embellished and signed by Master Engraver John Ulrich. Ulrich signed the rifle on the lower tang: "J. ULRICH." The engraving consists of floral scrollwork on a punch dot background and scallop borders. The left side plate has a game animal scene engraved inside an oval panel. Engraved flourishes are featured on the forend cap, dust cover and buttplate tang. The barrel has dovetailed blade front and elevation adjustable rear sights and is marked with the two-line address/patent dates information on the top flat ahead of the rear sight and "44 WCF" on the upper left flat at the breech. The upper tang is marked "MODEL 1873" flanked by floral flourishes. The factory sling swivels that are attached to the forend cap and underside of the buttstock are a rare feature on Model 1873s. The receiver has the third model integral dust cover rail and dust cover with serrated rear edges and a single set trigger. The nicely figured and checkered straight grip stock is fitted with a crescent buttplate featuring a trapdoor. The four-piece cleaning rod is included. The lower tang is marked "281 XX," the stock inlet is marked "281" (faint), and the buttplate is marked "SS."
Good as restored. The rifle has had the engraving professionally recut and has a smooth refinished brown patina overall. There is some very scattered minor pitting. The wood is good with a sizeable repair near the toe, a tiny chip missing from the forearm, some minor pressure dents and scratches and some wear in the recut checkering. Mechanically excellent. A documented Ulrich signed factory engraved Model 1873 short rifle that will work well in any Winchester lever action collection.
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