Reportedly less than 100 of the original New Haven Arms Co. iron frame Henry rifles are known to collectors today making them one of the rarest and most desirable of all of the classic American lever action rifles. Further adding to the already extraordinary rarity of this rifle is the fact that its consecutively serial numbered rifle is also extant and in this auction in LOT 27. While 127 is listed among the identified iron frame rifles in Sword's "The Historic Henry Rifle," this rifle was not identified. Only an estimated 200-300 Henry rifles with iron frames were manufactured by New Haven Arms Co. before the company discontinued them in favor of the distinctive "brass" gunmetal frames. These iron framed rifles were manufactured during the first three months of production (April-June 1862), and the known serial numbers of the identified iron frame Henry rifles range from 1-393. Collectors have also identified seventy-seven brass frame Henry rifles in this same serial number range and sixteen brass and iron frame Henry rifles with duplicate serial numbers. The rifle has the distinctive early production features which include: rear sight dovetails on both the barrel and receiver, loading lever without a latch spur, no provision for a lever latch on the lower tang, straight, non-beveled receiver follower slot, rounded buttplate heel, and matching serial numbers stamped on the shanks of the buttplate screws and the tang screws as well as the breech end of the barrel and the inside of the buttplate. The rear sight dovetail on the barrel is empty, and the rear dovetail is fitted with a notch and folding ladder rear sight with 900 yard center notch at the top of the ladder. A nickel-silver blade front sight is fitted at the muzzle. The rifle is not fitted with a sling loop or ring hook; these were special order items on early Henry rifles. It has a replacement larger diameter brass cartridge follower. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16, 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN.CT" ahead of the rear sight dovetail. A receipt inside the stock compartment indicates the rifle was sold on October 13, 2001, by Red Lehr and guaranteed the rifle was all original parts. David "Red" Lehr (1937-2021) was a traditional jazz musician and trick shooter from New Athens, Illinois.
Very good with mottled gray and brown patina throughout, some mild oxidation and pitting, aged patina on the brass follower, replacement follower spring (too long), and general moderate overall wear suggesting serious period use. The stock is also very good with attractive worn original finish, numerous light scratches and dings, a few heavier scrapes, and a thin hairline crack visible on the left side of the wrist. The action is mechanically fine. Given Henry rifles were extremely popular with Union soldiers during the Civil War as well as with pioneers and Native Americans in West, it may have seen some serious action like you'd expect from a Henry rifle. This is an incredibly rare and solid example an iron frame Henry Rifle and will enhance even the most advanced collection of Winchester rifles or 19th century American firearms, especially if it its consecutively numbered mate goes home with it.
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