Overall, this stunning rifle hosts an incredible array of special order features and is most likely one-of-a-kind. It is also in extraordinary condition. The factory letter lists this rifle in .38 caliber with a 1/2 octagon barrel, 1/2 magazine, 1/2 nickel finish, "Engraved $3.20," set trigger, and checkered birdseye maple pistol grip stock and also confirms the rifle was received in the warehouse on April 21, 1887, and shipped from the warehouse the next day in order 16663. In addition to the rare special order features listed in the letter, the rifle also sports a 20 inch barrel making it a very rare "short rifle." The combined rarity of this rifle's features are hard to quantify, but the individual features alone are already scarce. The birdseye maple stock on this rifle is particularly rare. The number known is extremely limited, and we have only one other in our records (Sn. 212466 sold by RIAC in December 2020). The table on page 681 of "Winchester's New Model of 1873: A Tribute" by James D. Gordon estimates only 1,279 Model 1873s had special wood (1/600th of a percent of production) and of those only 475 survive. He also indicates that in his survey of 3,847 guns there were only 11 rifles with 22 inch barrels and only 103 rifles with short barrels more broadly. Also keep in mind that this rifle has a short, half-octagon barrel, again a rarity. Half-octagon barrels only accounted for around 1/900th of a percent of production per the listed estimates and only 136 of the surviving rifles Gordon surveyed, and most of those would have been longer barrels. Short magazines were also rare for 1873s with only an estimated 2,669 produced representing 1/270 of a percent of production. The engraving was executed by one of the master engravers of the famous Ulrich family. The $3.20 is a very unusual price. $2.00, $2.50, and $5.00 were essentially the standard grades. The frame has the proper step for a .38 caliber Model 1874 and features beautiful scroll engraving, a banner on the right side plate, a buck in a round panel scene on the left side plate, the rare nickel plated finish, the third model dust cover and guide rail, casehardened hammer and lever, blued single set trigger and loading gate, "38 Cal" on the elevator, "MODEL 1873" on the upper tang which also has empty taps from mounting a peep sight, and the serial number behind the lever latch on the lower tang. The crescent rifle buttplate and forend cap are also scroll engraved and nickel plated. The barrel is equipped with a dovetailed "Rocky Mountain" blade front sight with contrasting tip insert and an adjustable sporting rear sight and is marked with the two-line address and King's improvement patent marking ahead of the rear sight and "38 W.C.F." at the breech. The very scarce birdseye maple stock and forearm have attractive figure, checkering, and a contrasting ebony grip inlay. The stock compartment is empty.
Exceptionally fine with 97% plus untouched original nickel plating, crisp engraving, 75% plus original blue finish, strong original case colors and niter blue on the small parts, and generally only light handling and storage related wear. The wood is very fine and has crisp checkering, attractive birdseye maple figure, smooth oiled finish, and some minor scratches and dings. Mechanically excellent. This is an incredible rifle. Its original owner clearly sought out something very special that fit their particular tastes and clearly took excellent care of it. This extraordinary Model 1873 is sure to add value, interest, rarity, and beauty to the most discriminating Winchester collection.
There are currently no customer product questions on this lot