Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1019: Exceptional Winchester First Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle

Auction Date: April 14, 2018

Exceptional Winchester First Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $8,500 - $13,000

Exceptional Winchester First Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44-40 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 767
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 16
Class: Antique

The Winchester Museum letter states: "The Winchester Model 1873 serial number records number 11261 as a rifle, round barrel and plain trigger". The letter further states that this rifle was shipped from Winchester on December 6, 1875. Also included with the rifle is a copy of a 1968 dated letter from dealer Sidney Stein to the buyer Paul Sorrell. The Stein letter describes this rifle in detail and concludes: "It is about the finest first model in original mint state of condition that I have seen during the past 20 years of chasing after Winchesters." This rifle has the First Model receiver with grooved dust cover guides and dust cover with recessed, oval, knurled "thumbprint." The lever latch has visible threads. The barrel has a standard sporting front sight with nickel silver blade and buckhorn sporting style rear sight with knurled edges. The upper receiver tang is factory drilled and tapped. The crescent buttplate has a sliding brass trapdoor. The butt trap contains a four-piece cleaning rod with brass tip. The top of the barrel has the two-line address/patent dates ahead of the rear sight. The upper receiver tang is marked "MODEL. 1873." in fancy letters. The serial number is stamped in script numerals on the lower tang. The barrel and cartridge elevator correctly lack the caliber markings found after 1879.

Rating Definition:

Extremely fine. This rifle is all original and is very attractive. 90% original blue is present on the barrel and magazine. The barrel band has some edge wear and retains 80% original finish. There is some thinning on the side of the forearm cap but at least 80% of the blue finish remains. The receiver retains 80% plus original blue finish with thinning on the edges and on the top immediately ahead of the hammer slot. There is a 1 inch spot of finish wear on the lower right edge of the receiver ahead of the loading gate. The portions of the receiver that show handling wear have faded to an attractive plum brown patina. The sides of the receiver and side plates show traces of age spotting. The blue on the upper and lower tang is thin but mostly intact. The dust cover shows expected handling wear and retains 80% blue finish with traces of plum patina. The hammer, lever, trigger and buttplate retain at least 90% casehardened finish with muted case colors. The stock and forearm are both excellent and retain 90% plus original finish with minimal handling wear. This is a truly exceptional example of an early production First Model1873 rifle. Most of the early, standard grade Model 1873 rifles saw hard use. This rifle shows only very limited handling wear. It would be very difficult to find a better example of a First Model 1873 rifle.

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