Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1013: Special Order Antique Takedown Winchester Model 1894 Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Incredibly Rare, Very Fine and Well Documented Special Order Antique Winchester Model 1894 Casehardened Deluxe Lever Action Takedown Rifle with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $45,000 - $65,000

Incredibly Rare, Very Fine and Well Documented Special Order Antique Winchester Model 1894 Casehardened Deluxe Lever Action Takedown Rifle with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1894
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 30 WCF
Barrel: 26 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: highly figured checkered
Item Views: 1023
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 14
Class: Curio & Relic Long Gun

This early special order Model 1894 was manufactured in 1896 and has a dizzying array of special order features making it a very rare and early Model 1894. The factory letter indicates the serial number was applied on September 23, 1896, and lists the rifle in .30 caliber in takedown configuration with a round barrel, plain trigger, checkered pistol grip stock, Lyman combination rear and cup disk and Lyman combination front sights, casehardened finish, and matted barrel and lists the rifle as received in the warehouse on December 14, 1896, and as shipped the following day in order number 24371. The matted barrel and casehardened frame are especially rare special order features for a Model 1894. The Cody Firearms Museum based on factory records has previously indicated that there were only 155 casehardened Model 1894s, only 84 matted round barrel 1894s, and only 16 Model 1894s with both matted round barrels and casehardened finish. George Madis' "Rarity Table" for the Model 1894 prior to 1932 notes that only 1/3 of the rifles prior to serial number 700000 had round barrels, 1/3 of the Model 1894s were rifles, 1/800 had special wood, 1/725 had pistol grips, and 1/780 had carving or checkering. "Matted barrels were produced in very limited numbers" on special order Winchesters of all models per Madis. Taken all together, this rifle is clearly incredibly scarce, and the overall high condition combined with the rarity of the configuration certainly makes it an especially valuable Winchester. The takedown barrel has the very scarce early style checkered/knurled matting from the breech to the muzzle right over the factory two-line marking, a Lyman combination bead and globe front sight, three-leaf "express" rear sight with inlaid sight lines, and "30 W.C.F." marked on the left at the breech. The upper tang is equipped with a Lyman tang sight with aperture disk. The frame, hammer, lever, and buttplate are casehardened. The rifle is mounted with a highly figured walnut pistol grip stock and forearm with style H checkering and a Winchester hard rubber grip cap. The lower tang is marked with the assembly number “3354”, “XX”, “S”, “R” and “P”. The upper stock mortise, butt, and buttplate are marked with the assembly number “2484.” The variance in assembly markings plus the "XX," "S," and "R" markings suggest the rifle was originally meant to have a slightly lower grade of stock with a shotgun butt and a rubber buttplate. The buttstock was likely updated by the factory to match a new order. We have seen other Winchesters that were modified in house before being shipped, a few with multiple changes.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The barrel and magazine tube retain 95% of the original blue finish and have minor spots of wear, crisp matting, and oxidation spots visible on the takedown collar. The loading gate also retains 85% plus of the original niter blue finish. 90% of the original case colors remain. They are particularly vibrant on the sides of the frame and back of the buttplate, and the colors are darker on the hammer and lever. There are also scattered light patches of oxidation, mainly on the sides of the frame. The wood is also very fine and retains the vast majority of the original finish and crisp checkering and has beautiful flame figure, limited light scratches, and some dings concentrated on the forearm. Mechanically excellent. This is an exceptional Model 1894. The Winchester Model 1894 has been one of the most popular sporting arms in history, but early special order Model 1894s with rare features like matted barrels and casehardened frames are extremely difficult to find, particularly in very fine condition like this extraordinary rifle.

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