Iron frame Henry Lever Action Rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company, June 1862. Experts estimate that the New Haven Arms Co., manufactured about 300 Henry rifles with iron frames during the first three months of production (April-June 1862). Serial numbers of the eighty-nine identified iron frame Henry rifles range from 1-393. Collectors have identified seventy-seven brass frame Henry rifles in this same serial number range. Sixteen brass and iron frame Henry rifles in this serial number range have been identified with duplicate serial numbers. The rifle has a blued iron frame, crescent buttplate and octagon barrel with integral 15-round magazine. The hammer, lever and crescent buttplate have a casehardened finish. The straight grain, American walnut stock has a polished "piano" finish. The rifle has the distinctive early production features which include: (1) alternate rear sight dovetail on the receiver, (2) loading lever which lacks the lever latch spur, (3) lower tang with no provision for a lever latch, (4) small diameter brass cartridge follower head, (5) straight, un-beveled, receiver follower slot, (6) half-moon shaped, nickel-silver, front sight blade, (7) rounded buttplate heel, and (8) serial numbers stamped on the shanks of the buttplate screws and the tang screws. The rear sight dovetail on the barrel is fitted with the original, first style, rear sight with 1000 yard center notch and elevator bar with rounded ends. The butt trap contains a four-piece, jointed, hickory cleaning rod. The cleaning rod is the standard configuration furnished with rifles below serial number 4000 with the exception of a non-standard brass tip. The rifle is not fitted with a sling loop or ring hook, which were special order items on early Henry rifles. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN.CT" ahead of the rear sight. This smaller, first style legend utilizes both Roman (serifed) and Gothic (block) letters with the second "NEWHAVEN" in the second line in block letters. The serial number, "287" is stamped: (1) on the top of the barrel between the rear sight and the receiver, (2) on the left side of the lower tang underneath the stock, (3) in the upper tang inlet of the stock, (4) inside the heel of the buttplate, and (5) on the shanks of all five buttplate and tang screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. This rifle is identified by serial number in Wiley Sword's "The Historic Henry Rifle" (page 85) as one of the very few known iron frame Henry rifles to have a duplicate serial number as a brass frame. The iron fame Henry rifle is the rarest and most desirable variation of the rare and desirable Henry lever action rifle.
Fine. The rifle is original with all of the original components. The blue finish is 30% intact on the barrel and iron frame and has aged to an attractive gray-brown patina. Traces of the original casehardened finish are present on the hammer, lever, and buttplate. The barrel and integral magazine have sharp edges. Traces of blue finish remain in protected areas. There is some heavy flash pitting at the muzzle. The receiver has several scattered and very minor handling marks and some small spots of age discoloration. The upper edges of both side plates have some shallow dents but the side plate joints remain tight. The buttplate has a smooth silver-gray patina. All of the screw heads are in good condition with minimal screwdriver wear. The stock is in good overall condition with scattered handling marks primarily on the bottom edge and heel. Most of what appears to be the original piano finish remains. The barrel legend and serial numbers remain sharp. Henry rifles were extremely popular with Federal soldiers during the Civil War and with both frontiersmen and Native Americans in the post-war west. As a result, most Henry rifles show the effects of hard wear in a hostile environment. This rifle shows expected use but remains in fine condition. This is an outstanding example of an extremely rare iron frame Henry Rifle that would enhance even the most advanced collection of Winchester rifles or 19th Century American firearms.
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