Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1020: Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine with Native American Style Stock Decoration and Documentation Including a Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $3,500 - $5,500

Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine with Native American Style Stock Decoration and Documentation Including a Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 38 WCF
Barrel: 20 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 663
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 30
Class: Antique

This carbine has a block mounted blade front sight, notch and folding ladder rear sight, standard markings, and a smooth carbine forearm and buttstock (compartment empty). The right side of the wrist has what appears to be a bison head flanked by lightning bolts and an arch and radiating lines underneath above the head. The left side has four human figures with sunset/sunrise type markings above each (arches with lines radiating upwards) and four arrows pointing towards them from the butt. There are also round indentations with central dots typical of spots where brass tacks were once installed, a common design element on Native American decorated guns, suggesting this carving was added after tacks had been removed. The factory letter from October 22, 1976, lists this carbine in .38 caliber when shipped from the warehouse on September 25, 1891. A letter from Rick Still of Nacogdoches, Texas, talking about him buying the rifle and noting the carving and stating "I then believe this to be a genuine 'Indian S.R.C.'" is included. A letter from Curator R.I. Frost of the Buffalo Bill Museum dated a couple of days before the factory letter states "It seems to me your assumption that the figures are Apache and done around 1880 is as is as good as any other...It is undoubtedly an Indian gun, and an unusual one, with value above a similar gun without the carvings..." also accompanies the carbine as does a letter from Gerald R. Taylor listing this carbine as an "Apache War Gun" and "location found, on a ranch north of Dallas, Texas." Taylor claims this gun's location and shipping date "puts this gun in the Apache War (1861-1900) time zone," and, "After my research, I feel the carvings on each side of the stock, tell what the Apache Indian is planning." He interprets the carving on the left to mean an attack by four Apache warriors at daybreak on four white men and those on the right to represent a buffalo hunt at high noon. He notes that combined with the information in the other letters, "We can assume that this Winchester S.R.C. Ser. #362452B; was carried by an Apache Indian." The Apache Wars were a series of conflicts between the United States government and American settlers and the various Apache nations that lasted from 1849 when U.S. territory expanded further into the Southwest following the Mexican-American War through as late as 1924 and did not fully end with the capture of Geronimo in 1886. Winchester lever action rifles and carbines are known to have been among the weapons utilized by various Apache groups in their raids and battles in late 19th century. Provenance: The Rick Still Collection; The Gerald R. Taylor Collection

Rating Definition:

Good with some artificial brown finish mixed with dark brown and gray patina, mild oxidation, general mild overall wear, and modified/replacement dust cover, which is often seen on Indian used Winchesters. The revarnished wood is good and has distinct carving and tack outlines, some thin cracks at the front of the wrist and forearm, and minor scratches and dings. Mechanically excellent.

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