This historic deluxe Winchester Model 1866 was manufactured in 1870 is featured on page 72 of "Winchester Engraving" by R.L. Wilson where it is described as an "Early engraved Model 1866 rifle, attributed to Ulrich shop" and noted as comparable to sn. 36484 signed by John Ulrich and 36259 signed "C.F." (Conrad F. Ulrich). Also see sn. 38507 from our February 2021 auction that is signed "J.U." (John Ulrich) and has some similar design attribute. Many of these historic early factory engraved Winchesters were engraved by the Ulrich family engravers for use as exhibition and presentation pieces, with some serving both purposes and used for many years as factory exhibition pieces at the World's Fairs and other events and later being shipped. The engraving on this beautiful '66 is primarily classic scroll patterns with punched backgrounds along with track-line and wavy line borders, sun shaped panels on the front, a scroll banner on the right, and a inscription panel on the left inscribed "J. Fernando Flores." (or possibly T. Fernando Flores) outside the factory. The frame, forend cap, and buttplate are gold plated. The barrel and full-length magazine tube are blued, and the barrel has a dovetailed front sight base with a replacement higher blade, the two-line address and King's improvement patent marking, and a notch and folding leaf rear sight with graduations for 100, 200, and 300 yards. The left side of the lower tang is marked "XXX," and the upper tang mortise of the stock has the matching partial serial number "6156". The deluxe walnut stock and forearm have some nice figure and a high polish varnish. Sling swivels are fitted to the bottom of the forend cap and the bottom of the buttstock. Fernando Flores was not identified in the book, but it is known that many high end Winchesters, including former factory exhibition pieces, were sent to wealthy and influential political and military figures in Central and South America in the 1870s and 1880s. Given the Spanish name, this rifle was likely one of these. Unfortunately, without any information aside from the name and the period this rifle was made in, it is not possible to positively identify who Fernando Flores was as this time. One possibility is a general from the Uruguan Army in the late 19th century who later resigned to raise an expedition to support the Spanish in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Provenance: The Felix A. Bedlan Collection; Property of a Gentleman
Very good with crisp engraving and inscription, 30% original blue finish fading to smooth brown patina on the barrel and magazine tube, 40% bright original niter blue remaining on the loading gate, mixed gray and brown patina on the hammer and lever, 30% strong original gold finish remaining in the protected areas and otherwise an attractive natural aged patina, and mild overall wear including some small dings and scratches. The wood is fine and has nice figure concentrated on the right side of the buttstock, hand worn original varnish, general dings and scratches, a small chip on the lower corner of the wrist on the left, and mild overall age and handling related wear. Mechanically fine. Overall, this is a stunning early factory engraved Winchester Model 1866 that will add impressive artistic quality to any arms collection.
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