This rifle is pictured and described on page 216 of "Winchester Engraving" by R.L. Wilson. The included factory letter confirms this rifle was received in the warehouse on July 25, 1904, and shipped three days later in order number 233189. It is listed as a rifle in .50 Express with a "Winchester High Velocity" octagon barrel, plain trigger, style A carved pistol grip stock with fancy grade wood, takedown, and $100 engraving in "Style #1." The letter also confirms a repair and return date of September 10, 1904. The rifle's engraving pattern is illustrated and described in the "Winchester Highly Finished Arms" catalog reproduced on page 221 of "Winchester Engraving" by R.L. Wilson. The engraving, executed and signed by master engraver John Ulrich, features highly detailed gold inlaid animal scenes that depict a crouching cougar and grazing deer on the right side of the receiver, a vignette of a grizzly bear and two hounds on the left side of the receiver and a moose head vignette on the underside of the receiver. The animal scenes and vignette are surrounded by arabesque scrolls highlighted by gold and platinum borders. The engraving completely covers the receiver and upper tang. The bolt has engraved and gold-inlaid borders with scrollwork and platinum highlights. The engraving and gold inlays cover the sides and top of the hammer and the sides and bottom of the lever. The takedown collar and barrel breech are decorated with scrollwork, scalloped borders and gold and platinum inlays. The muzzle has engraved scrollwork flourishes. Both the muzzle and tip of the magazine are inlaid with gold bands. The forearm cap features engraved scrollwork flourishes with gold inlaid borders and platinum accents. The heel of the crescent buttplate is decorated with scroll engraving highlighted with gold inlaid borders. "J.ULRICH" is engraved in tiny letters on the underside of the receiver ahead of the trigger. The highly figured, fancy grade, XXX walnut stock and forearm feature the "Style A" carving illustrated in "Winchester Highly Finished Arms." The pistol grip and forearm featured highly detailed, relief carved scrollwork with leaf accents. The pistol grip has a black, hard rubber buttplate embossed "WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO." in relief. The 26-inch, full octagon barrel has a "Winchester Express" front sight with gold bead and "Winchester Express" rear sight with three folding leaves and platinum lines under the sight notches. The upper receiver tang is factory drilled and tapped. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped: "MANUFACTURED BY THE/WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO. NEW HAVEN. CONN. U.S.A." in two lines ahead of the rear sight. ".50 EX." is roll-stamped on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and receiver. The caliber marking is outlined with scalloped engraving and a scrollwork accent at the muzzle end. The upper receiver tang is roll-stamped: "-MODEL 1886-" outlined by scalloped engraving with gold inlaid accents at either end. The Winchester 1884 and 1885 patent dates are roll-stamped on the lower tang behind the trigger. The serial number is engraved on the lower tang is script numerals behind the tang screw. The barrel, magazine, forearm cap, receiver, bolt, trigger and crescent buttplate have a high polish charcoal blue finish. The trigger and loading gate are a fiery niter blue. The hammer and lever are casehardened sensational gold inlaid accents. The stock and forearm have a high polish piano finish.
Excellent. The barrel has nearly 98% of the original blue finish with one very small spot of fading on the top flat and several very minor handling marks. The barrel engraving is very crisp and the gold and platinum inlays are in perfect condition. The Winchester legend and caliber markings are crisp. The magazine has the minor scuff marks below the band that are inevitably found on takedown rifles but also retains 98% of the blue finish. The forearm cap has several very minor age spots with 95% of the bright original blue. The receiver has 95% plus of the bright original blue finish with some spotting and very minor finish wear on the lower tang behind the trigger. The highly detailed and flawlessly executed gold-inlaid vignettes and game scenes are in perfect condition. The loading gate shows some light wear and retains about 80% of the fire blue finish. Nearly all of the blue is present on the bolt. The blue finish on the buttplate shows scattered age spotting and high point wear but remains about 90% complete. The case colors on the right side of the hammer show some cycling wear; 95% plus of the case colors are present on the lever. The highly figured walnut stock and forearm are both in excellent condition and retain 95% plus of the original piano finish. The highly detailed relief carving on the forearm and pistol grip shows almost no handling wear. Both the stock and forearm have scattered handling and storage marks, and the piano finish shows some age texturing. This spectacular rifle is the finest known example of Winchester No. 1 factory engraving and Style A stock carving, and represents the absolute peak of 19th and early 20th century factory craftsmanship that will never again be duplicated. This is the finest factory engraved Winchester Model 1886 Express Rifle known.
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