Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3058: 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment Henry Rifle

Auction Date: December 5, 2021

Exceptional Documented 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $40,000 - $60,000

Exceptional Documented 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 583
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 55
Class: Antique
Description:

This U.S. contract Henry lever action rifle was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company in May 1865 as part of a 127 rifle order by the Ordnance Department for rifles to arm the 3rd Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment (3rd VVI). This rifle is listed by serial number on page 76 of "The Historic Henry Rifle" by Wiley Sword as one of the 98 Henry rifles in serial number range 8480-9701 issued to Companies B, C, I, H and K of the 3rd VVI in May-June 1865. The 3rd VVI was one of several infantry regiments recruited in late 1864-early 1865 from discharged veterans to serve as an elite infantry brigade under General Winfield Scott Hancock. The Civil War ended before the VVI regiments saw significant action. The VVI regiments were armed with Henry, Spencer and Sharps rifles. As an incentive for enlistment, members of the VVI were permitted to retain their issued weapons when they mustered out of service. The 3rd VVI was armed with 100 Henry rifles in the 1300-4000 serial number range originally purchased to arm the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry in 1863-64 and 248 Henry rifles in the 7000-9400 serial number range purchased by the Ordnance Department in April and May 1865. The 627 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in April-May 1865 are generally not marked with Ordnance inspection marks. However, a few of these rifles are stamped with what appears to be a small Ordnance sub-inspection mark consisting of the block letters "A.W.M." on the left side of the stock wrist - this rifle has this rarely encountered marking (an example is illustrated on page 143 of "The Henry Rifle" by Les Quick). This rifle has the mid-late production Henry features which include: (1) second style receiver without rear sight dove-tail, (2) buttplate with sharply pointed heel, (3) nickel-silver, square back, front sight blade, (4) large diameter brass follower with beveled follower cut in the receiver, (5) late style folding leaf rear sight with elevation bar with rounded ends and elevation bar stop screw below the 900 yard center notch, (6) second style barrel legend with longer (3-9/32-inch) markings using all serif letters, (7) standard sling swivels and screw mounted sling loop on the left side of the stock and barrel and (8) un-numbered machine screws in the tang and buttplate. The rifle has the distinctive octagon barrel with integral 15-shot magazine and brass receiver and buttplate. The barrel/magazine is blued, the receiver and buttplate are natural brass, and the hammer, trigger and lever are color casehardened. The stock is oil finished, straight grain American walnut. An oval nickel-silver inscription plate is inlaid in the lower edge of the stock about two-inches ahead of the buttplate. The plate is not engraved and was professionally installed and appears to be a period but post-Civil War addition. The serial number is stamped: (1) on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and the receiver, (2) on the inside of the buttplate below the trap door, (3) on the left side of the lower receiver tang and (4) in the stock upper tang inlet. All of the visible serial numbers match. The buttplate and tang screws are, correctly, not serial numbered. The small "H" inspection mark of B. Tyler Henry is stamped on the lower receiver tang behind the lever latch. Provenance: The Milan J. Turk Collection

Rating Definition:

Very fine. This rifle is all original and retains 40% of the blue and casehardened finish. The balance of the barrel/magazine blue has a very attractive plum brown patina with considerable blue finish present in protected areas. The metal surfaces are smooth, the barrel edges sharp, and the legend and serial number are crisp. The front and rear sights are original to the rifle. The brass receiver and buttplate are excellent with a beautiful, untouched aged patina and minimal scratches and handling marks. The side plate joints are tight. 50% of the original mottled gray case colors are present on the hammer. The trigger, lever and sling swivel have a dark patina. A small amount of fire blue finish is present on the sling swivel, sling loop and receiver screws. The very fine stock has a crisp "A.W.M." inspection mark and retains most of the original oil finish. There are two hair-line cracks visible on the left side of the stock between the buttplate and the sling swivel and a repaired crack on the bottom of the stock above the inscription plate. Mechanically functions fine. This is an exceptional example of a documented U.S. contract Henry rifle issued to the 3rd VVI that is stamped with the very rare "A.W.M." inspection mark.



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