Lot #1019
Lot #1021

Lot 1020: Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle

Rare Documented Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Military Windgauge Rear Sight and Factory Letters

Auction Date: December 10, 2022

Lot 1020: Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle

Rare Documented Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Military Windgauge Rear Sight and Factory Letters

Auction Date: December 10, 2022

Estimated Price: $30,000 - $40,000
Price Realized:

Rare Documented Special Order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Military Windgauge Rear Sight and Factory Letters

Manufacturer: Winchester
Model: 1873
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 32 WCF
Barrel: 24 inch part octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip:
Stock: walnut checkered
Item Views: 931
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 17
Class: Antique
Description:

This incredibly rare and fine rifle was manufactured in 1889 and is accompanied by factory letters from 1973 and 1982 and a copy of "A Very Special Winchester 1873 s/n 324821" by Warren Webster and Rick Hill which discusses on the special military windgauge rear sight and other special order features and also identifies the original owner of the rifle as legendary late 19th century marksman and writer Arthur Corbin Gould (1850-1903), whose works include "The Rifle" magazine starting in 1885 (forerunner of the NRA's "American Rifleman"), "Shooting and Fishing" in 1890 which featured illustrations by Frederic Remington, "The Modern American Pistol and Revolver" in 1888, "Modern American Rifles" in 1892, and "American Rifleman's Encyclopedia" which was published near the end of his life in 1902. Gould was a member of the Massachusetts Rifle Association and one of the most influential American gun writers of the late 19th and early 20th century. Countless American sportsman referred to his writing for guidance when seeking out new firearms and working on their marksmanship. Webster and Hill's article states, "Attracted by the pristine original condition and the unusual configuration, this rifle was purchased by Warren Webster from noted Winchester collector Ivan B. Hart in August, 1973." This rifle was in Webster's collection for 44 years before being sold by Rock Island Auction Co. in 2017. Gould's penname, "Ralph Greenwood," was discovered by Webster handwritten on the back of the buttplate after he noted that some of the special order features of the rifle, in particular the rear sight, were discussed in Gould's classic "Modern American Rifles." The cover page of the book lists "A.C. Gould ('Ralph Greenwood') Editor of 'Shooting and Fishing.'" In the book, Gould notes that thin front sight blades are liable to be bent and are harder to see for quick shooting and recommends a thicker "plain" front sight, and the book shows a normal "Winchester Open Front Sight" on page 37. On page 49, he features an illustration of the "Winchester Wind-Gauge Open Sight," and the following statements below the image are particularly important: "A very effective device has been applied by the writer to a Winchester open wind-gauge sight, which prevented accidental slipping of the bar and yet permitted its use for windage. Holes were bored in each end of the sliding bar, and a small screw fitted to each; when the windage required was obtained, the bar was set fast by the screws." The exact modification appears on this rifle's sight. On page 99, Gould also recommends a "Shot-gun butt and a corrugated or rubber heel-plate. Avoid smooth butt-plates, as they are liable to slip when placed to the shoulder." This rifle has a rubber shotgun buttplate. Gould also discusses shooting thousands of rounds of .32-20 W.C.F. from various rifles in the book. The factory letters list this rifle in .32 caliber with a 1/2 octagon barrel, plain trigger, sling swivels, casehardened finish, checkered pistol grip stock with rubber shotgun buttplate, 1/2 magazine, a "military windgauge sight," plain front sight, and as a "nice shooter." They also confirm the rifle was received in the warehouse on Christmas Eve of 1889 and shipped on December 27, 1889, just a few years before Gould's book was published. This rifle has all of the above features, including the special military windgauge rear sight with the noted set screws in the sides of the elevation bar. The blade front sight has a set screw. The rifle has a 24-inch half-round/half-octagon barrel roll-stamped "WINCHESTER'S REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CONN. U.S.A./-KING'S IMPROVEMENT MARCH 29. 1866. OCTOBER 16. 1860.-" in two lines ahead of the rear sight and "32 W.C.F." ahead of the receiver. The rifle has a half-length "button" magazine. The Third Model receiver has an integral dust cover rail, dust cover with serrated rear edges, the rounded top found on Model 1873 rifles in smaller calibers, a factory drilled and tapped upper tang marked "- MODEL 1873-" in fancy letters with foliate devices at either end, the serial number stamped in small numerals across the lower tang between the lever latch and the rear tang screw, and "3502 XXX S" marked on the left side of the lower tang. "32 CAL" is stamped in script across the bottom of the cartridge elevator. The forearm and pistol grip stock are deluxe, highly figured, fancy grain walnut with Winchester "Style H" checkering. The bottom of the pistol grip has an ebony insert, and the stock has a checkered, hard rubber shotgun buttplate with a Winchester logo in the center. The length of pull is 13 3/8 inches. The inside of the upper tang mortise of the stock has "3502." The stock and forearm have a high gloss, piano finish. The barrel and magazine have the Winchester blue finish. The dust cover is high polish blue, and the loading gate is fire blue. The forearm cap, frame, hammer, trigger, and lever are color casehardened. Provenance: The Arthur Corbin Gould Collection; The Ivan B. Hart Collection; The Warren Webster Collection; Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine overall. This unique Model 1873 rifle is all original and has very limited careful handling and shooting associated wear. The barrel has 80% of the original blue finish remaining with traces of finish wear on the edges and a small and almost unnoticeable 3/4-inch by 1/3-inch area of pitting on the left side of the barrel just above the forearm ahead of the rear sight. The sights have nearly all of the dark finish remaining, and the rear sight leaf spring retains 95% of the nitre blue. The Winchester legend and caliber markings are crisp. The dust cover and bolt have most of the high polish blue finish. The loading gate retains 75% of the fire blue finish. 85% plus of the vivid case colors are present of the forearm cap, receiver, hammer, trigger and lever. The highly finished fancy grain stock and forearm retain 95% of the piano finish and have sharp checkering. Wear is limited to one tiny dent in the right side of the stock behind the pistol grip and a few scattered and very minor handling marks. It is unusual to identify the owner of any Winchester rifle. Identification of this high condition deluxe Model 1873 rifle with unique rear sight and other special order features to prominent 19th century shooter and author A.C. Gould makes this a one-of-a-kind Model 1873 rifle worthy of a place in the finest firearms collection.



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