First it is not a rifle but a musket which is a matchlock gun. The musket seems quite out of date after the Civil War. It is the only example of a Winchester musket offered in a presentation box, where it is still accompanied by its saber bayonet.
It was carved in deep relief signed by Conrad F. Ulrich. Conrad works along with his two brothers for Winchester from 1870. He is the best artist in his family, knowing to adapt the shape of his hunting illustrations to the available place around the trigger of the Model 1866. His career that spans half a century does not make possible to date the work. 1866 is only to be considered as the year of the Winchester basic features applied for this unit.
The iconography is centered on the left side by the Three Graces in the nude from Canova and on the right side by a circus girl vaulting over a galloping horse. The five other plates display animals. The back pattern of scrolls is disturbed on the left side by a disgruntled elephant moving away from the Graces.
This musket belonged to Thomas W. Palmer who was an outstanding figure in the political life of Detroit and a reformist leader of the Republican Party. He was the first president of the Detroit Museum of Arts and the president of the preparatory committee for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Senator of Michigan from 1883 to 1889, he took positions far ahead of his time, especially for supporting the women's suffrage.
Palmer was also in 1877 the initiator and first president of the Michigan Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals. Although no document corroborates this hypothesis, we may assume that the musket was offered to him around that time. Unlike a rifle which can be used for hunting, the musket was exclusively a military arm. The Graces accentuate an atmosphere of serenity but the elephant has nevertheless some good reason to be cautious.
SOLD for $ 360K before fees
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