Lot #17
Lot #19

Lot 18: Peter Floeck Houston Gold Inlaid 1 of 1000 Winchester Model 1873

Iconic, Historic, and Well-Documented Special Order 1/2 Nickel Plated "One of One Thousand" Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Gold Inlaid Peter Floeck, Houston Inscription, 32 Inch Extra Length Barrel, Factory Letter, and Provenance Documentation

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Lot 18: Peter Floeck Houston Gold Inlaid 1 of 1000 Winchester Model 1873

Iconic, Historic, and Well-Documented Special Order 1/2 Nickel Plated "One of One Thousand" Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Gold Inlaid Peter Floeck, Houston Inscription, 32 Inch Extra Length Barrel, Factory Letter, and Provenance Documentation

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Estimated Price: $180,000 - $275,000
Price Realized:

Iconic, Historic, and Well-Documented Special Order 1/2 Nickel Plated "One of One Thousand" Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Factory Gold Inlaid Peter Floeck, Houston Inscription, 32 Inch Extra Length Barrel, Factory Letter, and Provenance Documentation

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44-40 WCF
Barrel: 32 inch octagon
Finish: blue/nickel
Grip:
Stock: deluxe walnut
Item Views: 3180
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 30
Class: Antique
Description:

The iconic Winchester Model 1873, popularly known to collectors as "the Gun that Won the West," has long been one of the most popular antique American firearms, and the One of One Thousand '73s are easily among the rarest and most valuable of all Winchesters. They were part of a special program designed to market highly accurate Winchester Model 1873 and 1876 rifles to discriminating clients who wanted the best repeating rifles in the world and had the wealth to buy them. The One of One Thousand program was announced in 1873 and more fully explained in Winchester’s 1875 catalog under the headline “Variety of Arms.” The program was short lived and was terminated quietly in 1877. Only around 132 One of One Thousand Model 1873s were manufactured out of over 720,000 Model 1873s in total. Many of them have not been found, leaving only a small number available to collectors. Some of these rifles are truly one of a kind due to their combination of special order features, and that is certainly the case with this rifle which features an extra long 32 inch barrel, a feature unseen on other One of One Thousands, with the original owner's name and his home city of Houston, Texas, in gold inlay. The connection to Texas adds to the rifle's interest, and none of the rifles in Gordon's chart for the One of One Thousands in "Winchester's New Model of 1873: A Tribute, Volume II" are listed with a 32 inch barrel making this likely the only One of One Thousand manufactured in this barrel length. In fact, all Winchester '73s with extra long barrels are very rare. Rock Island Auction Company has only offered three other special order Model 1873s with desirable extra long barrels of this length, and even the shorter 30 inch extra long barreled rifles are hard to find. This incredible One of One Thousand from the Lone Star State is discussed on pages 50 and 51 of Edmund E. Lewis's "The Story of the Winchester 1 of 1000 and 1 of 100 Rifles" where it is noted that in addition to increased accuracy, the longer barrel allowed this rifle to carry more cartridges giving the rifle the ability to hit multiple targets at long range in skilled hands. Lewis's book also illustrates the scarce gold inlaid inscription and a portrait of the original owner. This incredible one-of-a-kind One of One Thousand Winchester Model 1873 is accompanied by a 2007 factory letter that lists this historic rifle with a 32 inch octagon barrel, set trigger, XXX checkered stock, 1/2 nickel finish, and "Engraved - Peter Flouck [sic]" and indicates it was received in the warehouse on April 26, 1876, and shipped on May 1, 1876, in order 5772. Older 1960s and 1970s dated factory letter list largely the same information but spell the name correctly as "Peter Floeck." None of the letters mention that the rifle is a One of One Thousand. However, Lewis notes in the book that the rifle "is unquestionably authentic" and "confirms that the warehouse ledgers are not always accurate and, sometimes, not even close." In included Herb Glass letters from 1967, he states "This gun is a genuine One of One Thousand in every respected as far as I am concerned and there is absolutely no doubt that the fact that it is not recorded at the factory was a bookkeeping error. I have owned several One of One Thousands and have examined many more and this is one of the finest and is very typical in every respect. I unhesitatingly guarantee it to be authentic and genuine in every respect." A Certificate of Authenticity from the Texas Gun Collectors Association for the rifle is included stating the rifle is "completely original and authentic in all respects." On page 376 of "Winchester's New Model of 1873: A Tribute, Volume II," the chart of One of One Thousands in the factory ledgers does not list this rifle, but this rifle would fall very close to rifles #s 18382, 18386, and 18387 which were all received on May 22, 1876. The extra length barrel has a silver band and scroll engraving at the muzzle, a nickel-silver Rocky Mountain blade front sight, "PETER FLOECK. HOUSTON." in flush gold inlay near the center, the "1873" marked notch and folding ladder rear sight, and the "One of One Thousand" script inscription at the breech surrounded by a decorative border and flanked by scroll engraving with punched backgrounds followed by a silver band, and a full-length magazine tube underneath. The forend cap, frame, First Model dust cover, cartridge elevator, and buttplate are all finished with nickel plating. The serial number is in script numerals on the lower tang behind the lever catch. The loading gate, adjustable single set trigger, and tang mounted peep sight (graduated 0-250) are all finished in blue, and the XXX fancy walnut stock and forearm have single point checkering on the former and multi-point checkering on the latter. An article in "Forest & Stream" on February 8, 1877, titled "A Day of Sport in Texas" is particularly relevant to this rifle and was uncovered as part of our research. It notes Peter Floeck as a banker and the vice-president of the Houston & Texas Western Railway as part of a discussion of hunting trip organized by the officers of the company while the railroad was under construction. When discussing the return of the hunting parties to Wimberly (the terminus of the railroad at that time, located between Austin and San Antonio) the author states, "The last that came up, but one, was Floeck, who came staggering under the weight of an enormous buck, which he bore on his shoulder. He had disemboweled the animal where he had fallen; and so saturated with the buck's blood was his clothing, that he might have been easily mistaken for a butcher just out of the slaughter pen. As he threw the buck down he remarked: 'I might have got another the easiest in the world, but I had in this fellow about as much as I could well stand under, and my compadre would not consent to shoulder the responsibility.' He had shot the buck with a splendid Winchester rifle, which he had had manufactured to order at a cost of $150." Winchester advertised the price of the One of One Thousands at $80 to $100, so Floeck's gold inlaid barrel, nickel plating, and other special order features appear to have set him back nearly double the cost of a basic One of One Thousand and three times the cost of standard Model 1873. In "The Story of the Winchester 1 of 1000 and 1 of 100 Rifles," Lewis notes that "Peter Floeck of Houston was commissioned as a Captain to be the Commander of Company A, 15th Regiment of the Texas Militia for Harris County" and that the rifle arrived not long before Custer and much of the 7th Cavalry was wiped out at the historic Battle of Little Bighorn. In a letter to Winchester, Montana's Granville Stuart extolled the virtues of the One of One Thousands and stated, "If poor Custer’s heroic band had been armed with these rifles they would have covered the earth with dead Indians for 500 yards around and it is probable a portion of them [meaning Custer’s men] would have been alive when Gibbon and Terry's forces reached the bloody field.” Firepower and accuracy were almost certainly what Floeck was after when he ordered this rifle, and he definitely got it. While far from the Battle of Little Bighorn, Texas had more than its fair share of violence in the 1870s, including many raids and battles with the Comanche, outlaws operating mainly in the northern part of the state, violence between freedmen, Republicans, and the State Police on one side and the Democrats and former Confederates on the other, and of course the range wars and family feuds famously depicted in many westerns. Whether Floeck used this rifle during his militia service or not is unclear, but we know that he was quite the marksman and sportsman. For example, in addition to the article about him taking a large buck with his fine Winchester, Floeck is listed in local newspapers as a member of the Houston Schutzenverein and won the first prize, a silver medal and silver plated castor, in their competition in 1871 and was coronated "King Peter I." He won other prizes at other German-American shooting events in Texas in the 1870s as well. As a talented marksman, he would certainly have been attracted to the Winchester 1 of 1,000 program and an extra long barrel. While we don't think of Winchester repeaters as target rifles today, we know that Granville Stuart and likely others like Floeck intended to use their One of One Thousands in rifle matches. The included documentation and further research provides additional details of Floeck's biography. Peter Emil Floeck of Houston was born in Germany on August 11, 1834, died on November 6, 1887, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas. He came with his family to Texas in 1848, a period of massive immigration of "Forty-Eighters" following the March Revolution of 1848. By the time of the Civil War, he was a businessman in Houston and owned Floeck’s Brewery among other establishments. He was also an alderman, enlisted as a member of the Houston Guard, and issued Confederate currency. After the war, he became an even more prominent businessman with numerous business ties and was also was captain of Company A (Houston, Harris County) of the 16th Regiment of the Texas Reserve Militia starting on Sept. 6, 1870. The state militia was reformed in 1870 after Texas officially rejoined the Union. The Reserve Militia was formed from all men not enrolled in volunteer companies of the Organized State Guard. In 1876, the year he ordered this rifle, he turned his attention from bakeries, brewing, etc. to banking and also purchased Houston's shares in the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railway and became its vice president as noted in the Forrest & Stream article. He also held shares in the Houston East & West Texas Railroad Co. Houston was the railroad hub of the state. 1876 was also the year Texas enacted its new state constitution. Towards the end of his life, Floeck owned a sash, window, and door business. The rifle's provenance after Floeck's death is unclear. It may have been passed down to one of his several sons or daughters and remained in the family until it was purchased by collectors after World War II. The documents included with the rifle indicate it was purchased by Larry Sheerin and Herb Glass at a gun show in California after it "showed up out of the bushes." It may have emerged from the bushes during the search for One of One Thousand Winchester Model 1873s that took place in relation to the 1950 film "Winchester '73" starting James Stewart which sparked renewed interest in the One of One Thousand rifles. In the film, Stewart's character wins a One of One Thousand in a rilfe match held as part of the celebration of the U.S. Centennial. Sheerin and Glass sold the rifle to National Gun Traders, Inc. of Miami, Florida. It was purchased from them by Jim Voulgaris of Texas and subsequently purchased by Gene R. Rourke of San Antonio, Texas, in 1966 and Patrick J. Wagner of Shriner, Texas, in 1967. Lewis's book also notes that it was once in the collection of Leo Bradshaw. Invoices and other details from the past sales are also recorded in the documents. One from the sale of the rifle to Wagner states that "This rifle won the Texas Gun Collector Association award for the most outstanding weapon of the show at San Antonio, Texas, on September 27, 1966." Provenance: Larry Sheerin & Herb Glass; National Gun Traders, Inc.; The Jim Voulgaris Collection; The Gene R. Rourke Collection; The Patrick J. Wagner Collection; The Leo Bradshaw Collection; Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Fine. The historic "One of One Thousand" inscription, engraving, and visible markings remain distinct. The gold inlaid inscription remains bright, and the silver bands at the muzzle and breech display an attractive well-aged patina. The balance of the barrel and magazine tube display mottled dark brown patina with hints of original blue finish remaining in the protected areas such as at the breech end and just ahead of the forend cap. The nickel plated action and furniture retain 80% plus of the aged original nickel plating mixed with patches of dark patina. The loading gate, sights, and trigger retain original niter blue finish, strongest on the rear barrel sight base, and the lever and hammer have light patterns of original case colors visible and gray and brown patina. The stock and forearm remain very fine and display highly attractive figure, crisp checkering with minor wear, several minor dings and scratches appropriate for a rifle actually used to take game down in Texas in the late 19th century, strong original finish mainly on the butt, and mild handling and storage wear overall. The rifle remains mechanically excellent, including the adjustable single set trigger. This is an incredible chance to get your hands on an incredible "One of One Thousand" marked Winchester Model 1873 with one-of-a-kind 32 inch extra length barrel gold inlaid with the owner's name and his home city of Houston. This would definitely be a worthy centerpiece for any American arms collection and especially a collection based in Texas.



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