Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 32: New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

Auction Date: September 10, 2021

Historic Engraved New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle Presentation Inscribed to Henry E. Darby with Documentation

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $27,500 - $47,500

Historic Engraved New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle Presentation Inscribed to Henry E. Darby with Documentation

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 1/4 inch octagon
Finish: blue/brass
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1340
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 36
Class: Antique

This late production rifle was manufactured c. 1865 and is inscribed as being presented on May 6, 1867, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Henry E. Darby (1834-1890) from his friends. As outlined in detail in the included research binder, Henry E. Darby was a private in Company G of the 181st Regiment of Ohio Infantry. Included copies of some of Darby’s government records, including pension records, list him as a veteran of the 124th Indiana and 181st Ohio Infantry and indicate a first enlistment on May 9, 1864, in the former and as discharged from his first enlistment on September 2, 1864. He re-enlisted on September 23, 1864, in the 181st and served until final discharge in Columbus, Ohio, on June 16, 1865. The 181st Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Dennison in Ohio in September-October of 1864 to serve for one year. They were ordered to Huntsville, Alabama, on the 24th of October and arrived on the 29th. They operated around Decatur, Alabama, in November and went by rail to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In December, they participated in the defense of Murfreesboro against Confederate General Forest and also engaged with Confederate forces while foraging around Murfreesboro that month. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 23rd Army Corps on Christmas Eve and joined their command at Columbia, Tennessee, on December 29th. On January 2, 1865, they traveled to Goldsboro, North Carolina, where they joined up with Sherman’s forces. In April, they advanced on Raleigh, North Carolina, and they mustered out on July 14, 1865. Private Darby and his family appear to have returned to Indiana and then moved to Drakesburo, Kentucky. His daughters were born in Indiana in 1864 and 1866, and his son was born in in 1878, likely in Kentucky. There has been other conflicting information about Darby, but another included pension document from 1908 indicates Darby died on October 4, 1890, and was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, whom he married on December 16, 1859 in Dearborn County, Indiana. She followed him in death on July 12, 1920, and they are both buried in Hayden Cemetery in Drakesboro, Kentucky. The right side plate has "Henry E. Darby/From his Friends/Cincinnati Ohio, May 6, 1867," and the left side plate has a spread wing bald eagle and shield motif and banner inscribed "E PLURIBUS UNUM" based on the Great Seal of the United States. The sides of the frame are also engraved. The inscription and engraving are not factory and show signs of wear underneath suggesting they were added after the rifle had seen some use, but the quality is good. The barrel has a brass blade front sight, sling loop on the left, "HENRY'S PATENT OCT. 16. 1880/MANUFACTURED BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." stamped on top ahead of the adjustable notch and ladder rear sight, and the serial number stamped on top at the breech. The left side of the buttstock has a sling swivel. A "W" is double stamped on the lower tang behind the lever thumb screw. The buttplate has a trapdoor compartment (empty). Provenance: The Eisley Collection, Thurston Van Horn (twice), Ed Luke, Doug Jahnake, Rex Thrower and Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Very good with traces of original blue finish, mostly gray patina on the barrel, mild natural aged patina on the brass frame and buttplate, mix of dark brown and lighter gray patina on the lever, minor dings and scratches throughout, some patches of faint pitting on the barrel, light scratches from cleaning on the receiver, and general mild wear overall. The re-oiled stock is also fine and has some scrapes and faint hairline cracks in the wrist, small gap on the right side of the lower tang, and some dents and cracks at the toe. Mechanically fine. Overall a very attractive Civil War era Henry rifle inscribed for a Midwestern veteran of the war and dated to when the South was still occupied by U.S. troops.

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