Page 28 - Auction84-Book1
P. 28

      This is not only a masterpiece of the work of Nimschke,
but also a triumph of American ingenuity as the world leader in combining the perfection of the factory with the perfection of the hand craftsman. It is the decorative artist sharing his talents with the masters of the American system of manufacture. With the magic of the name Winchester,
the distinction and artistry of the engraver Nimschke, the historical identification of the distinguished donor and recipient, the solid silver parts, the uniquely extensive signatures of the engraver, and more: the SOLID SILVER WINCHESTER is worthy of the most distinguished museum or private collection - and is, indeed, an arms collection unto itself.”
The most prominent signature is “L.D. NIMSCHKE ENG. NY.” signed in the scroll engraving on the bottom of the frame between the cartridge elevator and lever. Wilson notes this as the longest inscription on a Nimschke engraved firearm. The barrel, profusely engraved at the muzzle and the breech is double signed “L.D.N.” to both the left, and right of the
rear sight. Additional more discreet “LN” or “”N” signatures are found on the bottom of the forend cap, right side of the frame, left side plate at the left edge of the scene, and rear of the lever. The left side of the frame has the “MM” monogram for Mariano Melgarejo, and the left side of the butt-stock has an inlaid plaque with scroll engraving and what appears to be a double “LDN” monogram that can be read horizontally from top to bottom, regardless if the shooter is left or right handed. Wilson also notes that this may actually be a double “LDN” monogram. The blued barrel has double silver bands at both the muzzle and breech, panels of scroll engraving, twist patterns, borders, interesting panels on the sides with figure 8 designs along with stars and floral blooms, and an arrow along the top ahead of the notch and folding ladder rear sight with “HENRY’S PATENT- OCT. 16. 1860.” and “KING’S
PATENT- MARCH 29. 1866” hand inscribed to either side. The silver action also features primarily Nimschke’s
iconic Germanic scroll and floral engraving. The left
side plate has a fantastic scene of a pair of dogs subduing a stag. The right side has a disgorging bestial
face inhabiting the scrollwork at the front, and the right side plate has an open panel with a floral bloom at the bottom. The casehardened hammer has a winged beast design with a snout like an alligator or crocodile on both sides, and the
casehardened lever features scrollwork, border designs, a checkered panel, and floral accents. The silver forend cap and buttplate have scroll engraving, floral designs, and attractive borders. The loading gate and screws are niter blue, with all screw-heads engraved. The latter mainly have floral blooms designs. Even the lever catch is engraved, including along the narrow edge as is the countered lever prominently signed with an “N”. Other than its solid silver components, the lever itself is probably the most unusual feature, being custom hand-forged to a shape never previously found on any Winchester Rifle, fashioned into a flat and gracefully widening form around the trigger, engraved en-suite. The deluxe stock and forearm are varnished walnut, and the butt has fine figure.
A silver Winchester Model 1866 would have been a particularly well-suited presentation piece for exchange between two South American dictators, particularly a presentation from the Peruvian president to the Bolivian president. Silver has been mined and used by human beings since antiquity and has been a particularly important natural resource in Central and South America for centuries.

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