This rifle has the rarely seen open top frame whereas the later Model 1876s had dust covers. Only around 3,000 were produced in 1876 and 1877 out of the total of 63,871 manufactured between 1876 and 1897. This example was produced early in production in the very first year! The accompanying factory letter lists this early production Model 1876 with a plain trigger when received in the warehouse on July 21, 1877 and shipped on July 30. In his included letter Winchester expert and author George Madis authenticates this rifle as a rare all original early production open top Model 1876. The barrel is fitted with dovetail blade and elevation adjustable sights and is stamped with the two-line address/patent dates marking. The rifle correctly lacks a caliber designation as early production Model 1876s were offered in only in .45-75 WCF. The upper tang is marked "MODEL 1876." The lower tang has the early script style three digit serial number. Other early features include the large hammer and buttplate with large toe. The assembly number "138" is stamped on the left side of the lower tang, stock inlet and trapdoor buttplate. Comes with a four piece cleaning rod and a letter of authenticity signed by Tom Selleck confirming it is from his personal collection.
Fine. The barrel, magazine tube and forend cap retain 40% original blue finish and the receiver also retains 40% original blue finish with the balance a smooth brown-gray patina. 30% original niter blue remains on the loading gate. Faint patterns of original case colors remain on the hammer and lever. The wood is fine with minor dings and scratches. Mechanically excellent. As Madis proclaims, "Now well over a century old, with the age, originality, condition, rare features and rarity, number 131 will be a welcome addition to any collection or museum." Provenance: The Tom Selleck Collection
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