This deluxe, factory engraved Henry rifle was manufactured in late 1862. The brass receiver and crescent buttplate are silver-plated, and the barrel and integral 15-shot magazine are blue. The stock is nicely figured walnut with a high polish piano finish. The early style receiver has the rear sight mounted in the alternate sight dovetail behind the ejection port. The folding leaf rear sight has rounded top with 900 yard center notch. The rear sight dovetail on the barrel is filled with a factory blank. The gold-plated, nickel-silver front sight blade is the early, half-moon pattern. The magazine has the early style, small diameter follower, and the receiver has the narrow, straight follower cut. The buttplate has the early style, rounded heel and is fitted with a hinged trapdoor. The serial number, "1443," is stamped on the top barrel flat, left side of the lower tang beneath the stock, in the upper receiver tang inlet of the stock and on the inside of the buttplate below the trap. The hand-fitted buttplate and tang screws are all stamped with the rifle serial number. All of the visible serial numbers match. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the first style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN. ARMS. CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." in two-lines. The early style legend utilizes seriffed letters except for the second "NEWHAVEN" which is stamped in block letters. The rifle is not fitted with the sling swivel and loop for sling hook which were special order items on early production Henry rifles. The receiver and buttplate heel are decorated in the early style of New Haven Arms Co. factory engraving. The engraving features large scrollwork with large curls with leaf and scroll terminals on a punch dot background. The early factory engraved Henry rifles did not have the large flower petal design on the forward receiver panels found on later production rifles with factory engraving. The engraving on the right side of the receiver is nearly identical to Henry rifle serial number 1441 illustrated and described on page 15 of "THE BOOK OF WINCHESTER ENGRAVING" by R.L. Wilson. The left side of the receiver has the same scroll style as the right side with the addition of a geometric pattern engraved between the side plate scrolls. Henry rifle serial number 1570 has similar engraving and is illustrated on page 19 of "THE BOOK OF WINCHESTER ENGRAVING". Most factory engraving on Henry rifles is believed to have been executed by Samuel J. Hoggson. In November 1862, the retail price for a Henry rifle was $42.00 and silver-plating and engraving were an additional $10.00. During the first year of production, the New Haven Arms Co. manufactured a significant number of deluxe factory engraved Henry rifles. Some of these deluxe rifles were intended for presentation to promote the new Henry rifle. As sales increased toward the end of 1862, the New Haven Arms Co. produced fewer deluxe engraved rifles like this example and concentrated on the production of standard Henry rifles for sale to individual Federal soldiers who recognized the firepower offered by a repeating rifle with a 15-shot magazine. Deluxe, factory engraved Henry rifles are scarce.
Fine. The rifle retains nearly 60% of the original silver-plated finish on the frame. The barrel/magazine has a plum brown patina with strong traces of the bright original blue finish which is in protected areas. The surfaces of the barrel/magazine are smooth with no pitting and minimal handling marks. The barrel edges are sharp. The serial number and New Haven Arms legend are crisp. Significant amounts of the delicate silver-plated finish is present on the sides and protected areas of the receiver. Traces of silver plating remain on protected areas of the buttplate. The plating has tarnished with age and has a blue tint. The well executed factory engraving remains crisp and deep; the only significant wear is on the heel of the buttplate. The casehardened, hammer, trigger and lever have a dark brown patina. The lever was repaired/refinished during the period of usage matches the finish on the hammer and trigger very well. The nicely figured walnut stock is in very fine condition and retains most of the high polish piano finish. The stock has a few minor dents and scratches. This handling wear is located primarily on the lower left side and bottom of the stock. This is an outstanding example of a first year production Henry lever action rifle with early features and very desirable deluxe silver-plated finish and factory engraving. Provenance: The Gateway Collection.
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