This early Winchester '73 was manufactured c. 1875 and has the dust cover riding in grooves machined into the frame that identifies it as a First Model. It also features a blade front sight on the upper barrel band, notch rear sight with dovetailed base and absent elevation screw, the two-line address and King's improvement patent marking, saddle ring on the left, "Model. 1873." on the upper tang, the serial number in script on the lower tang, and smooth carbine forearm and stock (compartment empty). An included letter from Gerald R. Taylor about this rifle indicates it was found "near Santa Fe, Texas." On the map on the letter, the location shown is roughly Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the border between the New Mexico Territory and Texas is not shown though it was established well-before 1875. Taylor states that the location where the gun was found and when the gun was made "puts this gun in the Apache War (1861-1900) time zone" and claims "the above information indicates Indian usage." The Apache Wars in the American Southwest were a series of conflicts fought from the mid-19th century and into the early 20th century in the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico. This carbine was manufactured shortly before Victorio's War and certainly could have been used in that conflict and Geronimo's War that immediately followed it. The main violence of the Apache Wars in the U.S. ended with the surrender of Geronimo and his warriors in September, 1886. Period photographs often show the Apache's armed with Winchester Model 1866, 1873, and 1876 rifles and carbines as well as single shot cartridge and percussion rifles. Winchesters were used by the Apache and other tribes during their raids and battles in the late 19th century, sometimes after being captured from settlers in raids. Provenance: The Gerald R. Taylor Collection
Fair with a very "frontier issued" appearance overall and displaying a mottled mix of gray and brown patina, heavy pitting, and wear typical of guns used for many years on the frontier. The dust cover is a crudely made replacement and is locked back. The slightly undersized, heavily worn wood has numerous scratches and dings, some surface chips and divots, and a few old chips at the edges. Mechanically fine.
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