Manufactured in 1887, this is a high condition, presentation deluxe Model 1873 rifle with a third model frame consisting of a dust cover rail integral to the receiver and dust cover featuring serrated finger grip on the rear. The accompanying factory letter lists this rifle with an octagon barrel in .38 caliber, casehardened receiver, plain trigger and checkered pistol grip stock when received in the warehouse on July 28, 1887 and shipped the next day. The barrel is stamped with the two-line address/patent dates marking ahead of the rear sight and "38 WCF" at the breech and is fitted with a blade front sight and an elevation adjustable buckhorn rear sight. The left side plate has a presentation inscription which reads, "Wm de La Barre/from/T.R. Butman." The upper tang is marked "MODEL 1873." The lower tang has the serial number. The cartridge elevator is marked "38 CAL." The barrel, magazine tube and dust cover are blue, the loading gate is nitre blue, and the remaining surfaces are casehardened. Mounted on deluxe, highly figured and checkered walnut forearm and pistol grip stock. The pistol grip has an ebony insert, and the crescent buttplate has a trapdoor (cleaning rod not included). This rifle is documented in the included March 2003 Minnesota Weapons Collectors Association Official Publication, Volume 16, Issue 1 on pages 16-19 and comes with much of noted collector Mike Stanton's research that was referenced in the MWCA article. Born in Vienna, Austria, civil engineer William de la Barre (1848/49-1936) was the fourth of twelve children, joined the Austrian Navy at age 16 but due to illness was quickly discharged after 13 months of service and emigrated to America with his father, mother and 7 siblings (4 had died) where they eventually settled in Philadelphia. De la Barre ran engines in a machine shop, brick factory, brewery and sheet iron works before being hired by Morris Trasker & Co., a manufacturer of gas, steam and water pipes and machinery for sugar refineries and gas works, where his career flourished. In 1873, he represented the City of Philadelphia at the International Exhibition held in Vienna and, upon his return from the Old Country, received a flurry of demands for his services to develop gas works machinery and plants in numerous American cities. Eventually, he channeled his talents towards the prevention of deadly flour dust mill explosions through the introduction and improvement of Behan's millstone exhaust system and the management of the milling industry in and around the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He was instrumental in the development of hydroelectric power for the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Company, Ltd. Simply put, de la Barre revolutionized Minnesota's milling industry. At the time of his death in 1936, he was lauded as "a recognized leader in the sciences of the flour milling industry" and "the most useful figure in [the Twin Cities area] from the date of his arrival in the year 1878." Much of the technology found in today's milling industry can still trace its roots to the designs de la Barre implemented in the 1880s. Mike Stanton acquired this rifle in the summer of 1988 and unfortunately was unable to identify T.R. Butman before his death in 2002. We, however, have found a T.R. Butman (?-1909) who was the president of boiler works at Butman Engineering Co. of Chicago, Illinois, and inventor. His exact relationship to de la Barre, if any, remains unknown at the time of this writing.
Very fine, with 85% original color casehardened receiver and 98% original nitre polish blue remaining on the dust cover. The loading gate retains 98% original nitre blue finish. The remaining surfaces retain 95% plus vibrant original case colors. The barrel and magazine tube retains 98% refinished blue finish. The deluxe highly figured buttstock is also very fine with minor handling marks, crisp checkering overall and most of the original finish remaining. Mechanically excellent. This Model 1873 with its presentation inscription to a distinguished civil engineer would be difficult to replace and is worthy of most advanced Winchester or antiquarian collections! A must have for the serious Winchester collector!
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