Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 15: Documented Historic Factory Presentation Inscribed and Engraved

Auction Date: April 13, 2018

Documented Historic Factory Presentation Inscribed and Engraved Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine with Factory Letter

Estimated Price: $18,000 - $27,500

Documented Historic Factory Presentation Inscribed and Engraved Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 44 WCF
Barrel: 20 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1474
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 22
Class: Antique

The accompanying factory letter confirms the carbine configuration, 44 caliber fancy stock, and engraved factory presentation inscription "W.R.A. Co. to James Gregg", and that carbine was shipped on October 12, 1887. The floral scroll engraving and presentation inscription is very similar in style to the factory engraved and inscribed Model 1873 rifle presented to Captain Jack Crawford pictured in R.L. Wilson's "The Book of Winchester Engraving" (page 190). As Wilson explains, "Coverage is about equal to the No. 10 engraving pattern, and includes a repeated, stamped design within the borders on each side of the frame." The scrollwork extends to the dust cover, cartridge elevator and buttplate tang. The left side plate has the Winchester factory presentation inscription: "Winchester Repeating Arms Co./to/Mr. James Gregg." The carbine has the Third Model integral dust cover guide rail and a dust cover with serrated grasping grooves on the tail. It is fitted with a bayonet stud style blade front sight behind the magazine retaining ring, a carbine 1873 marked ladder rear sight, and saddle ring and stud on the left side of the action. The top of the barrel has the two-line address/patent date marking ahead of the rear sight and "44 WCF" at the breech. The brass cartridge elevator is marked "44 CAL", and the upper tang has the model designation with the serial number on the lower tang. Mounted on a smooth forearm and straight grip stock with sling swivels and a crescent trapdoor buttplate. James Gregg was born in 1847 in England. He was the trade manager and general manger for the well-known retailers and ironmongers Messrs. James McEwan & Co. Limited. The firm was founded in 1852 by James McEwan and John Houston to supply goods to stores in Victoria, Australia, during the gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s. Houston left the firm in 1855, and McEwan focused on wholesale and retail ironmongery until his death in 1868. In the 1880s, Gregg represented the company in Fiji and Australia. When the company expanded and opened a branch in Sydney, the manager was under Gregg's direction, and James Malcolm was the director for the company back at the London office. Gregg was also involved in civic affairs and was listed at the Grand Representative for the Grand Lodge Victoria based in Melbourne in 1887 and 1888. Winchester and McEwan & Co. were both involved in several large exhibitions in Australia in the late 19th century. Winchester won silver medal at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879 and a gold medal in Melbourne in 1880. These medals are pictured on page 116 of "Winchester Repeating Arms Company" by Herb Houze. The "Official Record" from the 1880 exhibition indicates Winchester won a “First Order of Merit” gold medal for repeating rifles and carbines as did the Providence Tool Company. Smith & Wesson won gold for revolvers, and Colt and Parker Bros. won Second Order of Merit for shotguns. In 1887, the Jubilee International Exhibition was held in Adelaide, South Australia, to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. Few details about the actual exhibition are available. In August 1888, Winchester returned to Melbourne for another large event: the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition in celebration of a century of British colonization of Australia. This event was even larger than the prior event in Melbourne and drew in over two million visitors. At this exhibition, both McEwan & Co, almost certainly headed by James Gregg, and Winchester won high awards. McEwan & Co. won silver medals for tea and Portland cement. The "Official Record" of the event states: "We, the undersigned appointed to act as experts on appeals against the decisions of the jury on firearms, etc., have this day examined the exhibit of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., United States, and beg to report that the Winchester Shot Gun of itself is in our opinion worthy of a First Award, as also the general display of arms and ammunition, which are highly finished. The whole exhibit we would recommend a First Award, with special mention for collective excellence." Marlin Firearms Co., Remington, and several European firms also won the First Order of Merit.

Rating Definition:

Very good. The carbine has an overall smooth dark mottled patina with 20% of original blue finish which is in the protected areas frame and barrel. The wood is very good with half of a period applied revarnish, a couple gashes and a number of minor handling/storage marks. A non-factory swivel was added to buttstock and barrel band. Mechanically fine. This is an extraordinarily rare, factory engraved and presentation inscribed Winchester Model 1873 carbine recently brought to the U.S. from Australia. All factory engraved and inscribed Winchesters are rare and desirable, and an 1873 saddle ring carbine with a presentation inscription from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company is an extreme rarity if not one-of-a-kind.

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