John Moses Browning was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1855. By the second year of the Civil War, he was working his father's shop repairing firearms. By 1878, Browning had developed his first firearm design and began producing them in a small shop along with his younger brother Matthew. By 1883, when the patent was sold to Winchester, the brothers had manufactured less than 600 rifles by most educated estimates. A hundred or less are believed to still exist. These were frontier built and frontier used rifles. By 1880, only a little over 6,000 residents lived in Ogden, and Utah was still a relatively lightly settled western territory. The design was covered by his first of many firearms patents. The refined version was manufactured as the famous Winchester Model 1885 and launched Browning's fruitful partnership with Winchester that included the design of the Model 1886, Model 1892, Model 1894, Model 1895 lever action rifles and carbines. He also went on to design semi-automatic pistols for Colt including the ever popular Model 1911, machine guns, and the first semi-automatic shotgun. Several of his designs resulted in what are considered to be among the most innovative and significant firearms of the late 19th century and early 20th century. This rifle's sights came off of a Winchester Model 1876 lever action. The rear sight is marked with "1876" on the ladder. The top of the barrel is marked "J.M. BROWNING OGDEN. U.T PAT. OCT.7.79" ahead of the rear sight and "128" at an angle twice at the breech. The breechblock has "J.M. BROWNING/PAT. OCT .7 79" on top. The frame has latter add taps and screws for a peep sight. The hammer cocks automatically when the breech is opened and closed.
Good exhibiting the hallmarks of hard use in the American West including cracks and sections absent from the still serviceable stock and forearm, mild dings and scratches throughout, and traces of an old cold blue finish mixed with deep brown patina. It remains mechanically fine. This rifle no doubt saw some serious use in the late 19th century at the same time that John Moses Browning was developing new and innovative firearms from his shop in Ogden. Provenance: The John Fox Collection.
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