Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 21: Factory Silver Plated Winchester First Model 1873 Rifle

Auction Date: May 13, 2022

Rare Documented Factory Targeted, Silver Plated, Early Production, Raised Thumbprint Dust Cover Winchester First Model Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with 1874 Dated Inscription and Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $55,000

Rare Documented Factory Targeted, Silver Plated, Early Production, Raised Thumbprint Dust Cover Winchester First Model Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with 1874 Dated Inscription and Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch octagon
Finish: blue/silver
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 2717
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 27
Class: Antique
Description:

Offered here is an early production Winchester Model 1873 Rifle, serial number 841 featuring a highly desirable and rare special order factory documented silver plated receiver with a raised thumbprint dust cover. The accompanying factory letter gives the Winchester records for this rifle as the following: "rifle," "24 inch octagon barrel," "silver plate," and "target-4" when received in the warehouse on April 16, 1874, and shipped on the same day along with one other rifle in the same configuration. The factory silver plated receiver is a rarely encountered special order feature for the Model 1873, especially on early first models, and features a period retailer applied inscription on the left side plate. This inscription reads, "HENRY W. FULLER/1874." A search for Henry W. Fuller uncovers a judge, an inventor holding patents related to equipment used in the textile industry, an Everhart Coal Co. director, a Norfolk County, Massachusetts lawyer, and a National Life Insurance Co. of Chicago director who was also of the wholesale druggists Fuller, Finch and Fuller. Although he remains unidentified at this time, this personalized special order factory plated Model 1873 certainly gives the impression Henry W. Fuller was a prominent member of society. The receiver also features the early production raised thumbprint dust cover held in place by two integral guides. Model 1873 expert and author James Gordon states the raised thumbprint "is seen from the beginning of production through the 2500 serial range." Surviving examples are rarely encountered. The rifle is fitted with a Lyman dovetail beaded blade front sight, an elevation adjustable rear sight correctly installed backwards and a folding tang peep sight. The top barrel flat is stamped with the two-line Winchester New Haven address/King's improvement patents legend ahead of the rear sight. The rifle correctly lacks a caliber designation. The barrel and magazine tube are blued. The plain forearm and straight grip stock are walnut. The stock is fitted with a trapdoor buttplate containing a four-piece cleaning rod. The low 800 serial number range certainly has some very interesting Model 1873s. This early production Model 1873 Rifle is only 7 serial numbers away from the lowest recorded factory engraved Model 1873 rifle, no. 834, which we had the pleasure of selling at our April 2018 Premier Firearms Auction.

Rating Definition:

Fine. The barrel and magazine tube retain 30% plus original blue finish with a smooth brown patina on the balance. The receiver retains 85% plus rare and original factory silver plating. Traces of original nitre blue remain on the loading gate. Faded patterns of original case colors remain on the hammer and lever. The wood is very fine showing minor dings and scratches. Mechanically excellent. A highly desirable and rare factory silver plated early production Winchester First Model 1873 Rifle.



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