Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 23: Factory Engraved Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Carbine

Auction Date: September 11, 2020

Extremely Rare Documented Special Order Factory Moorish Pattern Engraved Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Carbine with Extra Length Barrel and Factory Letter

Estimated Price: $12,000 - $18,000

Extremely Rare Documented Special Order Factory Moorish Pattern Engraved Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Carbine with Extra Length Barrel and Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 44-40 WCF
Barrel: 26 inch round
Finish: nickel
Stock: highly figured walnut
Item Views: 2123
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 32
Class: Antique

Manufactured in 1888 as a third model with a dust cover guide rail integral to the top of the receiver and dust cover featuring serrated finger grip on the rear. The accompanying factory letter lists this extremely rare special order carbine with a 26 inch barrel in .44 caliber, nickel plating, half magazine (7 cartridges), $25.00 engraving, "Moorish P steel scabbard" (not included), no rod in the buttstock compartment and angular bayonet (not included) when it was received in the warehouse on October 19, 1888 and shipped on October 26. A similar engraving on a Model 1873 musket is pictured and identified in George Madis' "The Winchester Book." Madis identified the engraving as the following: "This pattern of engraving is definitely Moorish, with geometric and scroll designs. One of the most intricate and involved patterns of engraving, copied from a Moorish design by the Winchester engravers" (page 138). The engraving is profusely featured on the receiver with flourishes of scrollwork on the barrel at the breech, hammer, dust cover, lever and buttplate tang. The Moorish engraving alone puts this Model 1873 in special class of Winchester rarities, but when the "very unusual pattern engraving" combines with other special order features (extra length barrel in 26 inches, full nickel plating, deluxe stock and half magazine), this carbine is in a class of its own! Any non-standard barrel length on a Winchester is considered rare, and Madis calculated that "one of each 600 [Model 1873s] had [a] barrel longer than standard." Madis continued, "Rifles in the 1873 model outnumber carbines by 20%, and only one of each 600 guns had plating. Only one of each 700 guns had engraving or inscriptions, and one of each 600 had special wood. These figures would be for all of the Model 73s produced. For carbines only, the ratios would be much higher." You are most certainly looking at an extremely rare Model 1873! The barrel is stamped with the two-line address/patent dates marking and is fitted with a block mounted iron front sight that serves as a lug for a socket bayonet and a folding ladder rear sight marked "1873" and graduated from 2 to 9. The cartridge elevator is marked "44 CAL." A saddle ring is mounted on the left side of the receiver. British proofs are present. The forearm and straight grip stock are highly figured deluxe walnut with checkering only on the stock wrist. The left side of the lower tang is marked "2245 XXX C." The assembly number "2245" is repeated on the stock inlet. The buttplate has the assembly number "3345" (possibly a factory error). Winchester's business ties to Morocco originated in 1885 when, as explained by author and Winchester family descendant Laura Trevelyan, "the Sultan of Morocco ordered 1,000 Model 1873 muskets and a million cartridges. A delegation of Moorish gunsmiths from Morocco visited New Haven to watch the manufacture of their muskets, and learn about maintenance and repair. Their visit caused much consternation among the little-traveled citizens of New Haven, who objected to the Moroccans cooking food on open fires while wearing long flowing robes." Cultural clashes aside, the factory Moorish pattern engraving on this carbine represents a time when the Winchester name was steadily becoming internationally known.

Rating Definition:

Fine, retaining 95% of the period replated nickel finish with loss contained to the lever and buttplate. The engraving is generally crisp. The revarnished wood is very good with some minor dings and scratches and smooth checkering. Mechanically excellent. Here is your chance to acquire a true rarity in 19th century firearms collecting, a special order factory Moorish pattern engraved Winchester deluxe carbine with extra length barrel, that is surely missing from even the most advanced public or private collections!

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