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Henry's patent significantly improved the performance of the previous model, the Volcanic. The Henry rifle had a significant rhythm of firing, with 15 shots per round. Its easy loading enabled a well-trained shooter to perform 100 firings in five minutes.
Despite its accuracy, this engineering marvel was not officially accepted by the army. They indeed selected the Spencer rifle designed in the same year. The Henry was indeed not perfect, with a risk of accidental fire and overheating, but especially the army preferred a slower repetition to avoid a costly waste of ammunition.
So during the Civil War the Henry rifle remained an elite firearm that the best soldiers were buying at their own expense and enjoyed to have with them in the most difficult actions.
These guns usually had a brass frame. The New Haven Arms Company also produced a variation with an iron frame despite the risk of rust.
A specimen of the iron framed Henry, with a serial number within the first fifty, remained in a stunning condition, having retained almost all of the blue finish of the metal and the coating of the walnut stock. It was sold for $ 600K on September 15, 2013 by RIAC, lot 3100.
In 1866 Oliver Winchester upgraded the Henry rifle and acquired totally the New Haven Arms Company which became the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Unhappy with his salary, Henry did not follow.
1868 Model 1866 Solid Silver
2021 SOLD for $ 980K by RIAC
This piece is a Model 1866 rifle with inscribed references to the 1860 Henry and 1866 King patents. It is seven times signed by the master engraver L. D. Nimschke and is entered in his book of drawings with the date 1868 and the note Peru. Nimschke was established in New York since 1853 with a specialty for engraving firearms for emperors and presidents.
Inscribed Balta-Melgarejo on the case lid, it had been made on a special order from the President Jose Balta of Peru for presentation to his neighbor the President of Bolivia. A highly corrupted hedonist and heavy drinker, Melgarejo may be considered as the worst Bolivian president. Newly raised as Peruvian president after a series of coups, Balta was certainly looking for allies. Both countries were major producers of silver.
The solid silver Winchester was sold for $ 980K from a lower estimate of $ 400K by RIAC on December 3, 2021, lot 18. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
L.D. Nimschke was so proud of his work on this solid silver framed Winchester 1866 he signed it an unheard of SEVEN times. Offered in last weekend's December Premier, it brought an outstanding $977,500.— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) December 9, 2021
Lot 18: https://t.co/GoJsGh8Ep0 pic.twitter.com/O2FFU3XW6H
Model 1873 Rifle
1876 Model 1873 for the Centennial
2021 SOLD for $ 720K by RIAC
It is known that Winchester displayed nearly two hundred guns representing about fifty different styles. It was also an opportunity to unveil their Model 1876 rifle and a revolver intended to compete with Colt on this specific market. Both brands competed also for lavishly decorated guns, for which the master engraver at Winchester was John Ulrich. Some of them were later presented to foreign heads of state for marketing purpose.
The identification of the Winchester Exhibition guns had not been recorded but some details are flagrant. For example a Model 1873 One of One Thousand is both inscribed CENTENNIAL and 1876 and it has been factory refurbished as many Winchester display guns were. This rifle which retains 98% of the high polish blue finish was sold on September 12, 2010 for $ 290K by RIAC, lot 3111 here linked on the bidding platform iCollector.
Two consecutive shipping orders from the factory in May 1878 are undoubtedly recording the shipment of pieces exhibited at the Centennial, although the 1876 exhibition is not referred therein and the new destination remains unknown, possibly the Paris Exposition Universelle of that year.
These orders go to confirm that a highly rare Model 1873 rifle gold inlaid in the full game scenes and signed by John Ulrich had been specially made for the Centennial. This piece has been marked in 1881 for a presentation to Marco A. Soto, the President of Honduras. Soto fled in 1883 for France where it surfaced thirteen decades later in poor storage conditions.
The restored rifle is rated exceptionally fine with 50% original blue finish on the barrel, more than 90 % original gold and its crisp relief engraving. It was sold for $ 720K by RIAC on May 14, 2021, lot 10. Please watch the video shared by the auction house to narrate Winchester at the time of the Centennial.
A top item in our May Premier is this stunning relief engraved Winchester Model 1873. With exhibition grade work by John Ulrich, it was displayed by Winchester at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, and later presented to Honduran President Marco A. Soto.https://t.co/nk2RDQaHrg pic.twitter.com/b8atVxGfjp— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) May 1, 2021
1877 Model 1873 1 of 100
2018 SOLD for $ 800K by RIAC, possibly unpaid
2022 SOLD for $ 760K by RIAC
In 1875 Winchester announced two sorted series of the model 1873. 136 rifles were granted the label One of One Thousand and 8 were One of One Hundred.
The 1 of 1000 was a guarantee by the factory that 10 shots had been fired by a tester. The 1 of 100 was cheaper with an intermediate guarantee of accuracy between the base model and the 1 of 1000 and at the end if the day it was much rarer than the 1 of 1000.
The eight 1 of 100 were released between 1876 and 1878. The rifle inscribed as the last of them was received in the Winchester warehouse in August 1877 and shipped in April 1878. It was probably carried in 1878 by its first owner in the ill fated Collins exploratory expedition to the Amazon and Madeira Rivers of South America.
This 1 of 100 in fine condition was sold by RIAC on November 30, 2018 for $ 800K from a lower estimate of $ 275K, lot 35. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. Itwas sold for $ 760K from a lower estimate of $ 500K by the same auction house on May 13, 2022, lot 17. In the 2022 pre sale video this 1 of 100 is shared with a 1 of 1000 from the same model.
Considering that the cataloguing and provenance are unchanged and that the new estimate is in the mid range between the original estimate and the price at the former auction, we may suppose that this lot had been unpaid in 2018.
This supremely rare & desirable Winchester Model 1873 "One of One Hundred" also carries a fascinating history. It was the last One of One Hundred shipped and went to a Robert Hopewell Hepburn, who carried it during the disastrous 1878 Madeira-Mamore Railway Expedition in Brazil. pic.twitter.com/IddfEAXKoi— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) February 8, 2022
1897 DeLuxe Factory Display
2021 SOLD for $ 720K by RIAC
After these tours the brand used it in 1902 for presentation. The selected recipient of this honor was 'Captain Jack' Crawford. This in period iconic figure of the Wild West was a veteran of the Sioux wars and a stage performer, a storyteller, a poet and a lecturer. In 1903 Captain Jack offered the rifle as a Christmas gift to his editor Jim Adams.
This deluxe presentation rifle retaining its factory exhibition finish was sold for $ 720K from a lower estimate of $ 190K by RIAC on September 12, 2021, lot 3023. Please watch the video shared by the auction house, narrating various feats of the Poet Scout.
1876 ex Little Bighorn
2000 SOLD for $ 680K by James D. Julia
After the fire had stopped Captain Benteen, who was leading one of the other two battalions, visited the field of the massacre. The scattered dead men were stripped of all that might be useful to the Indians. Benteen identified Custer's corpse.
The looting was almost perfect except some artefacts that escaped the attention of the Indians. A guidon of the 7th Cavalry Regiment was sold for $ 2.2M by Sotheby's on December 10, 2010. Benteen and his team picked up twelve Springfield rifles and three Colt revolvers of Single Action Army type.
Only one of these three Colt SAA remains in its original state. The other two were reissued during the Spanish-American War. This Colt is now the only unmodified revolver whose participation in the Little Bighorn is indisputable. For obvious reasons of security the Indians hid the firearms stolen from the US army and even when some of them went to resurface their true history could no longer be assessed.
This Colt from the Little Bighorn is in a heavy wear condition including bites related to blood stains. It was sold for $ 460K by James D. Julia on April 11, 2017, lot 1129.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn also known as Custer's Last Stand holds a top position in the history of the conquest of the West. Julia remember that they sold in April 2000 for $ 680K a Winchester rifle used by an Indian warrior.
Model 1876 Rifle
1877 Model 1876 1 of 100
2021 SOLD for $ 690K by RIAC
Winchester offered simultaneously the same 1 of 1000 and 1 of 100 sorts for the 1873 and for the 1876. The 1876 One of One Hundred is a great rarity with only 8 recorded.
The first 1876 1 of 100 was shipped in 1877 to its first owner, a 21 year old man who had visited the Centennial. I guess that the 1 of 100 was less expensive than the 1 of 1000.
This rifle remained until 1987 in the family of its original owner. It is in good condition with some traces of the original blue finish. It was sold for $ 690K from a lower estimate of $ 250K by RIAC on September 10, 2021, lot 24. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. It was sold for $ 615K by Heritage on June 19, 2023, lot 40110.
1879 Model 1876 1 of 1000
2018 SOLD for $ 890K by RIAC
1876 was prestigious for the Americans as the Centennial year of Independence. The Model 1876 of Winchester is nicknamed the Centennial rifle.
Based on the same patents as previous models, the Model 1876 launched during the Centennial celebrations is a shotgun including a DeLuxe option with hardened metal and a One Of One Thousand sorting. 54 units of the 1876 were granted the One of One Thousand label. As for the 1873 the label One of One Hundred is much rarer.
The very first of the 54 rifles Model 1876 that had the 1 of 1000 label was sold for $ 495K by RIAC on September 6-8, 2008.
A rifle Model 1876 One of One Thousand in exceptionally fine condition was sold by RIAC on September 8, 2018 for $ 890K from a lower estimate of $ 350K, lot 1009. It had been shipped from the factory in 1879. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1885 Model 1876 DeLuxe
2018 SOLD for $ 750K by RIAC
One of them in a time capsule condition having preserved 98% of its blue is the finest example of its type. It was sold for $ 750K from a lower estimate of $ 450K by RIAC on April 14, 2018, lot 1017.
This DeLuxe 40-60 WCF 28 inches supplied from factory in 1885 was decorated by John Ulrich with a powerful portrait of a grizzly bear on one side and a whitetail buck head on the other side. The video shared by the auction house illustrates its perfect condition.
Model 1886 Rifle
2016 SOLD for $ 1.27M by RIAC
The government can not wait. General Miles issues the order to capture or kill. Exhausted, Geronimo agrees to negotiate. On 4 September 1886 he is offering his surrender to Captain Lawton.
Lawton is an impeccable officer with a deserved reputation for gallantry. On April 30, 2016, RIAC sold as lot 1025 for $ 1.27M from a lower estimate of $ 500K a rifle and a watch offered to the hero for honoring his feat.
The rifle is the serial number 1 of the Model 1886 by Winchester. It was presented to Lawton and so inscribed by Lieutenant Albee who was a collaborator of Winchester Repeating Arms since his retirement from the army. It is in excellent condition.
The gold plated pocket watch by Howard was offered to Lawton by the New Mexican cattlemen relieved by the end of slaughters and cattle raids. Further north the Sioux continue the American Indian uprising until 1890.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house:
2018 SOLD for $ 1.18M by RIAC
This gold and platinum inlaid piece has been engraved and signed by the master engraver John Ulrich in Grade No. 1. The highly detailed gold inlaid scenes feature various animals in a surrounding of arabesques. It had been received in the warehouse in 1904.
Another Model 1886 rifle with a very similar description, also engraved in the same grade and signed by John Ulrich, and also shipped in 1904, was sold by RIAC on December 1, 2018 for $ 590K, lot 2005. It is in excellent condition. Some specialists guess that it had been showcased at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held inSt. Louis, in 1904, where Winchester had an exhibit in the Palace of Manufactures.