Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3006: Special Order Nickel Winchester Model 1873 Rifle

Auction Date: May 15, 2022

Exceptionally Fine, Highly Desirable, Documented Special Order Factory Nickel Plated, Fancy Stocked Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $27,500 - $42,500

Exceptionally Fine, Highly Desirable, Documented Special Order Factory Nickel Plated, Fancy Stocked Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44-40 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch octagon
Finish: nickel
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 365
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 8
Class: Antique

Known simply as “The Gun that Won the West,” the Winchester Model 1873 Rifle stands as an icon of American firepower on the open frontier that still resonates with modern collectors. High condition examples are always in demand, especially those with special order features such as this example. Offered here is an exceptionally fine, documented factory full nickel plated, select walnut stocked Winchester Model 1873 Rifle. The accompanying factory letter confirms the octagon barrel, plain trigger, “fancy stock”, and nickel plating. The letter also confirms that the rifle was received in the warehouse on November 19, 1884 and shipped the same day. The full nickel plating and “fancy stock” are special order features. Each of these features standalone as rare in all Winchester models. Encountered together on the same rifle and these special order features make for a true rarity in Winchester collecting. Winchester expert and author George Madis pointed out, “[T]he count of total production shows that only 1 of each 600 models 73 had special wood” and “one of each 600 guns had plating; either full or part coverage.” Extra cost was one factor that lead to limited qualities of Model 1873 with special order features. As listed in the Winchester 1875 catalog, optional finishes outside the standard highly polished bright blue such as gold, nickel or silver set the customer back an additional $5 to $100 and “fancy walnut stock” cost at least $5 extra. These features were generally considered too costly and unnecessary for the average customer looking for a reliable "working man's gun." The rifle is fitted with a dovetail blade front sight, an elevation adjustable rear sight, and a tang peep sight. The receiver is a third model with integral dust cover guide rail and dust cover with serrated finger grip rear edges. The top barrel flat has the two-line New Haven address/King’s Improvement patent dates legend ahead of the rear sight and “44 CAL” at the breech. The caliber designation is repeated on the cartridge elevator: “44 CAL.” The lower tang carries the serial number. As confirmed by the factory letter, the rifle features rarely encountered full factory nickel plating and un-checkered “fancy stock.” The left side of the lower tang is stamped “5533 X C.” The stock inlet is unmarked. The buttplate appears to have the assembly number “144.” The highly attractive “X” walnut buttstock is fitted with a trapdoor buttplate (cleaning rod absent).

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine. The barrel, magazine tube and forend cap retain 80% plus original nickel plating. The receiver, dust cover, loading gate, hammer and lever retain 95% original nickel plating. The buttplate retains 40% original nickel plating. The forearm is fine with a glue repair visible on the right side. The buttstock is very fine with some minor dings and scratches and most of the original finish remaining. Mechanically excellent. A highly attractive special order factory full nickel plated, fancy stocked Model 1873 Rifle for the Winchester collector looking for a prized rarity.

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