This is a rare Winchester Model 1895 lever action carbine that is factory documented as presented by famed Wild West legend and showman William F. Cody aka Buffalo Bill to his friend New York State Senator Fred Kavanaugh. Cody used a Model 1895 on hunting expeditions, and he is known to have presented Model 1895s to friends. For other identified examples see R.L. Wilson's book "Buffalo Bill's Wild West: An American Legend" (pages 179 and 181). Another presentation Model 1895 was presented to Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow Nation by Prince Albert of Monaco. At the time, Prince Albert was visiting Cody, Wyoming, and hunting with Buffalo Bill. Although Buffalo Bill did not personally present the rifle to Chief Plenty Coups, film footage of the presentation shows Cody present at the ceremony, even holding the gun, which had an engraved plaque on the stock. Speaking to Buffalo Bill's generosity, former Senior Curator of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Dr. Paul Fees stated, "[Buffalo Bill] is known to have made several gifts after 1895, all Winchesters. After 1895 he is known to have purchased and presented several Model 1895 Winchesters in .30 government or .405 caliber to adult friends." The factory letter lists the date of serialization as July 20, 1901, and confirms the carbine configuration, .30 caliber, and inscription on the right side of the receiver. The carbine was received in warehouse on July 29, 1901, and shipped the next day and was returned for repair on September 7, 1901. The inscription on the receiver reads, "FRED W. KAVANAUGH/FROM/COL. W.F. CODY 'BUFFALO BILL'/1901." The carbine is equipped with a pinned blade front sight and military style folding leaf rear sight with tangent base. A saddle ring staple with ring is mounted on the left side of the receiver. The left side of the receiver also has the long two-line address/patent information. The upper tang is marked "WINCHESTER/-MODEL 1895-." The carbine lacks a caliber marking as is proper. It is mounted with a finger grooved forearm, handguard, and straight grip stock of special varnished, extra grain walnut and fitted with crescent buttplate featuring a trapdoor (period bore pull through included). In 1883, Buffalo Bill founded "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", a circus-like extravaganza that toured widely for three decades in the United States and throughout Europe. His legendary show was a highly popular form of late 19th century entertainment that featured Native Americans, cowboys, and marksmen and markswomen performing elaborate productions, which helped to solidify the legend of the American western frontier that still resonates today. During its existence, the show featured performances by people who are forever synonymous with the western frontier and include such notables as Buck Taylor "King of the Cowboys," Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, Sitting Bull, Johnny Baker "The Cowboy Kid," Rough Rider Billy McGinty, Pawnee Bill, Dr. William Frank Carver, Montana Frank, and Calamity Jane. In the winter of 1886, the show was retooled for an impressive four act indoor performance at Madison Square Garden. Famed American novelist Mark Twain admitted, "[The show] brought vividly back the breezy wild life of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, and stirred me like a war-song." In 1887, the show traveled to Europe. In all, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West toured Europe eight times. The first four tours occurred between 1887 and 1892 and the last four from 1902 to 1906, bringing to Europe an exotic form of American entertainment. Buffalo Bill was an international superstar. Speaking to Buffalo Bill's worldwide fame, Mark Twain stated, "It is often said on the other side of the water that none of the exhibitions which we send to England are purely and distinctly American. If you will take the Wild West show over there you can remove that reproach." Frederick W. Kavanaugh (1871-1940) of Waterford, Saratoga County, New York, was a personal friend of Buffalo Bill and worked in the family knitting mill, becoming partners with his brother Colonel George W. Kavanaugh (1862-1951) after the death of their father. His elder brother was on the staff of New York Governor Levi Morton in 1896 and then served in the state assembly in 1897-1898. F.W. Kavanaugh was also a real estate investor and co-owned the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming, with Buffalo Bill. Cody, Wyoming, was founded in 1901, and the hotel opened in 1902 and was often Buffalo Bill's temporary residence when not on tour. The hotel was named after Buffalo Bill's daughter. Kavanaugh later served as a New York state senator in 1921 to 1924 as well as the Saratoga County sheriff, supervisor of the Town of Waterford, chair of the Saratoga County Republican Committee, and president of First National Bank of Mechanicville, NY. Like many prominent men of the period, including Buffalo Bill, he was also active in fraternal organizations. In 1930, Kavanaugh deeded Second King's Island to the Boy Scouts.
Exceptionally fine. The carbine retains 80% plus original blue finish showing thinning to a brown. There is an area of mild pitting on the barrel. The wood is fine with a long scratch and some minor handling marks. Mechanically excellent. An impeccably documented worthy piece of American history from the most famous Wild West showman of all time. Factory documented Buffalo Bill presentation firearms are rarely encountered.
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