Pearl Zane Grey (1872-1939), widely known as Zane Grey, of Zanesville, Ohio, is one of the most significant and prolific authors of the American frontier and one of the foremost figures in molding the representation of the American West in popular culture and popularized the region’s stunning landscape, including the famous Monument Valley. He was the best-selling author in America in the 1920s when the western genre was taking off, and his books continued to be popular throughout the century and on into the present. He remains particularly significant to the people of the American Southwest, a region he loved and wrote about frequently. His own family had been pioneers on the Ohio frontier in the late 18th century, and his debut novel titled “Betty Zane” (1903) was based on the story and journal of his ancestor Elizabeth Zane (c. 1766-1831) who is said to have bravely made a supply run for gunpowder during an Indian attack on Fort Henry in western Virginia during the American Revolution in September of 1782. Many of his later novels relate to the “Old West,” including his most popular novel: “Riders of the Purple Sage” published in 1912 (copy included) which is considered one of the most influential western novels and has been called "the most popular western novel of all time." It is on the Library of Congress’s "Books that Shaped America” list and remains popular today. It has also been adapted into multiple films, including a 1925 adaptation starring “King of Cowboys” Tom Mix and the most recent adaptation from 1996 starring award winning actor Ed Harris. He wrote around 90 books, including 60 westerns and books about his hunting and fishing experiences, along with many more short stories. Most were westerns. His tales were adapted into well-over 100 films along with the television series the Zane Grey Show and Zane Grey Western Theatre. His work also inspired other authors and screenwriters. Grey’s “The Lone Star Ranger” (1914) became an inspiration for the famous “Long Ranger” for example. Thus, Grey was one of the most influential American writers in shaping the mythology and romanticized legends of the American frontier in popular culture in the early 20th century and the western genre for generations to come. He was highly successful and became one of the first authors to become a millionaire through their writing. Among his fans was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who ranked Grey at the top of his list of favorite authors. His work was so popular, that it was claimed sales of Grey’s book were only bested by the Bible and the Boy Scout Handbook. Upon his death the “Herald Tribune” wrote that “This was a great writer, rich in invention, prodigal in his action, juicily romantic.” He was not just some Eastern gentleman writing about the West from far away, Gray was an avid outdoorsman and sportsman and traveled to the West in 1906 and experienced what it was like to spend days in the saddle under the searing western sun, hunted various game (including bears and mountain lions), traveled with western icons like Charles “Buffalo” Jones (the subject of “The Last of the Plainsmen”), and befriended members of the tribes of the American Southwest and learned about their cultures. Though many of his depictions of Native Americans are stereotypical and degrading, he was sympathetic to the plight of Native Americans and their mistreatment, which he covered in “The Vanishing American” which plays on the “vanishing race” and “noble savage” tropes and draws attention to the mistreatment of Native Americans by the government. He was also an accomplished angler and influenced sport fishing. He had a hunting lodge in Arizona and set many of his stories in the state’s picturesque landscapes and later moved to California where his stories were being turned into films. Grey was a particularly avid angler, traveled around the world for unique fishing opportunities (particularly New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti), set multiple world records, and wrote about international fishing for major magazines and in numerous books. He enjoyed the hunt for massive fish that put a fight and was a pioneer in big-game fishing, including sailfish. His son Loren claimed that Grey would fish on average 300 days a year. He and his brother R.C. Grey helped establish the Long Key Fishing Club in the Florida Keys, and Zane Grey served as the club president in 1917-1920. He also served as the president of the Tuna Club of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. He created the popular "teaser" bait still used today and also helped innovate other tackle designed for the giant marlin, tuna, sharks, and other massive fish that were his prey. He is quoted as stating, “To bear up under loss — to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief — to be victor over anger — to smile when tears are close — to resist evil men and base instincts — to hate hate and to love love — to go on when it would seem good to die — to seek ever after the glory and the dream — to look up with unquenchable faith in something evermore about to be — that is what any man can do, and so be great.” This stunning rifle is a fitting treasure for a man that truly loved the American West and made his mark as a writer of frontier stories. Many of his book covers show men armed with Winchester rifles, and his westerns are naturally full of men armed with Winchesters and Colt revolvers. He was clearly also a fan of Winchesters given many photographs of Grey feature his Winchester Model 1894 and 1895 rifles. As recorded in “Tales of Lonely Trails” (1922), when Grey was preparing for his annual fall hunt in Arizona in 1919, he sought out a Winchester in .30-06 Springfield. He recalled, “To make sure of getting a .30 Gov’t Winchester I ordered from four different firms, including the Winchester Co. None of them had such a rifle in stock, but all would try to find one. The upshot of this deal was that, when after months I despaired of getting any, they all sent me a rifle at the same time. So I found myself with four, all the same caliber of course, but of different style and finish. When I saw them and thought of the Haughts I had to laugh. One was beautifully engraved and inlaid with gold-the most elaborate .30 Gov’t the Winchester people had ever built. Another was a walnut-stocked shot-gun butted fancy checkered take-down. This one I presented to R. C. The third was a plain ordinary rifle with solid frame. And the last was a carbine model, which I gave to Nielsen.” The plain solid frame rifle was used for target shooting and for shooting ravens. He stated he could take out a raven with his rifle at 500 yards. On page 473 of "The Winchester Book," a letter from Grey in 1921 celebrates the Model 1895 in .30-06. He states it "is the finest rifle ever built. All the outdoor men I have known -I mean real hunters, and not sportsmen- claim this the great rifle for American hunting. I have used all makes -have had many rifles given me to recommend, but none ever equalled the 30." Famed six gun shooter Elmer Keith witnessed Zane Grey shooting his Model 1895 in .30-06 with “Z.G. inlaid in gold on the left side of the receiver” and wrote about it in his autobiography “Keith.” This rifle was manufactured in 1915 and is a stunning example of Winchester’s craftsmanship and a testament to John Ulrich’s superb skills as a master engraver. It may not be the rifle he ordered in 1919, but if it was, that may explain why the inscription is on the sight mount rather than the rifle; if the rifle itself was manufactured in 1915 but not shipped until 1919, it was undoubtedly used as a factory exhibition piece. The rifle features a factory No. 1 engraving and gold inlay pattern. A deer, mountain lion and grizzly bear are inlaid in solid gold on the receiver (animals Grey hunted). The receiver, upper tang, bolt, takedown collar, hammer, lever, barrel breech and buttplate are engraved with arabesque scrollwork and artistic borders. The scrollwork and engraved borders are accented with numerous gold inlaid borders. A gold inlaid band and an engraved scallop band appear on the barrel at the muzzle. John Ulrich has signed his masterpiece with his “JU” initials on the lower tang. The rifle is fitted with a blade front sight, folding two leaf rear sight and Lyman receiver sight. The receiver sight is inscribed with the original owner’s name in gold: “ZANE GREY.” The deluxe, fancy grade walnut stock and forearm feature Winchester Style B, relief carved scroll and vine designs with a highly polished piano finish. The serial number is too high to be "lettered" by the factory records. However, the rifle was published by Winchester expert and author George Madis in “The Winchester Book” on page 472 as well as by R.L. Wilson’s in his book “Winchester: An American Legend” on page 106. According to Madis, a standard Model 95 listed for $32.50, but the added extras on this particular rifle built and embellished for Zane Grey cost an astonishing $335.00 or about $8,476.00 in today’s money! An incredible piece of original documentation accompanies the rifle showing just how much the order of this rifle cost: Zane Grey’s check for $381.68 to Winchester Repeating Arms Co. on Nov. 30, 1921. The check is from the Los Angeles Trust & Savings Bank and is filled out in black ink and signed in blue, a color often used by Grey, including when signing his immensely popular books. The signature is clearly Grey's own. He had a luxurious estate in Altadena just north of downtown L.A. Documentation like this is exceedingly rare. This unbelievable piece of original documentation certainly adds to this rifle's historical value. Provenance: The Zane Grey Collection; The Mac McCroskie Collection; The George F. Gamble Collection
Excellent, retaining 95% plus bright original high polish blue finish overall, the majority of the finish loss appears at the takedown joint which is a mottled patina. The engraving is crisp. The wood is also excellent with some minor handling marks, numerous scattered scratches, most of the original varnish remaining and a crisp carving. Mechanically excellent. Factory engraved, gold inlaid Winchesters rank are the pinnacle of 19th century fine arms collecting. This rifle's beauty, importance, and rarity are further compounded by its original owner: American West icon Zane Grey. This rifle is an absolute National Treasure worthy piece of American history.
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