April 24-25, 2019 Extraordinary, Sporting, & Collector Firearms
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/24/2019
Spectacular ’66 rifle with 24-1/4" octagon barrel, full magazine, and thin blade German silver front sight with 900 yard Henry style ladder rear sight. Top flat of barrel has the usual two line Winchester Repeating Arms address. Rifle is mounted with very highly figured center crotch burl & flame grain uncheckered American walnut with straight stock and crescent brass buttplate with trap. Bottom of stock and forend cap are fitted with factory sling swivels. Receiver, forend cap, and buttplate tang are beautifully engraved by Master Engraver Conrad F. Ulrich with a large panel presentation on left side which is inscribed in period script “Presented by W.W. Winchester / To Stephen T. Babcock / for the best three shots at the / Annual Target Match of the / Collegiate & Commercial Institute / New Haven May 6th 1872”. Engraving is surrounded by wonderfully executed foliate arabesque patterns that have very fine, very well executed, punch dot background. Right side of receiver and sideplate are engraved with the deep relief vignette of the Book of Knowledge surrounded by eight various symbols of the arts industry, military, and medicine. This vignette is surrounded by identical foliate arabesque patterns as found on the left side. Both front side flats of the receiver are engraved with a triple scroll foliate arabesque pattern surrounded by most unusual diamond & dot patterns. Top of receiver forward, aft of ejection port, over the top of the firing pin slot, and back of hammer slot are engraved with small foliate arabesque patterns. There is also a small pattern just above the top tang screw. Bottom of receiver and carrier are engraved in near mirror image foliate arabesque patterns. The dimpled brass forend cap is engraved with a flower blossom on each side around the screw hole. Top tang of buttplate is engraved with a single foliate arabesque pattern. Receiver was originally gold plated, now with only traces of gold visible, mostly in the engraving on the sides. Trigger is slightly longer and thinner with a more pointed tip than normal as found on deluxe rifles. Left side of lower tang, under the wood is stamped “O / XXX”. Top tang channel of buttstock is stamped with the entire serial number as is the inside of the toe of the buttplate. Unlike Samuel Colt, Oliver Winchester was not prone to making presentations of his products and there are only a few known Winchester presentation rifles including several Henry rifles and a few Models 1866 including this one. This may be the only Winchester family presentation coming directly from the factory. William Wirt Winchester was the only son of Oliver F. Winchester and was a graduate of the Collegiate & Commercial Institute of New Haven. He was born in 1837 and became the Secretary of Winchester Repeating Arms Co. in 1869, a position he held until 1871 when he was made Vice-President, a position he held until his death from tuberculosis in 1881, just a few months after his father’s death in 1880. William’s widow, Sarah, is noted for building the famed “Winchester Mystery House” near San Jose, CA. A copy of one of the few known photographs of him is included with the provenance for this lot. The winner of this spectacular rifle, Stephen T. Babcock, was born Sept. 1854 in Stonington, Connecticut and, after about a year of failing health, took his own life in Nov. 1890 never having married. Mr. Babcock apparently graduated from the Collegiate Commercial Institute in 1872 and enjoyed a successful career in the insurance business in New York City. This rifle was awarded to Mr. Babcock as the best shot at the annual Shooting Competition at the school and so recorded in an article appearing in the New Haven Daily Morning Journal & Courier, May 7, 1872 as follows: “PRIZE SHOOTING. The annual prize shooting of the cadets at Gen. Russell’s took place yesterday, at Miller’s Garden, East Rock. After each company had taken its turn firing, the best marksmen were selected to try for the prize. The following were the cadets chosen for this purpose: Babcock, Howland, Pendelton and Restrapo of 1st Co.; Powell, Sinclair and Strickland of 2nd Co.; Barnum, Edmonson and Reyes of 3rd Co., and Miles, Ray and Redfield of 4th Co. Babcock on the last trial made the best shots, putting 2 balls through the bullseye and one into the ring. The other contestants did finely, shooting with an accuracy that would have been a credit to older and more practiced marksmen. Mr. Winchester, of the Winchester Rifle Manufacturing Company, who had formerly been a pupil at the Institute, furnished the rifles and offered the prize, which was to be any style of rifle in the factory which the successful competitor might select. Mr. Babcock will therefore have the privilege of choosing from Mr. Winchester’s magnificent selection of fire arms. A more generous prize could not have been offered, nor one more appropriate. The firing was done under the superintendency of Mr. Sinclair, the O.S. Inspector of Arms, to whose skillful management the success of the excursion is to be attributed. Everything was done by Gen. Russell, Mr. Fabrique and Major Stowe to make the day pass off pleasantly, and a more enjoyable time has seldom been experienced by the students”. Apparently, William Wirt Winchester, the recently appointed Vice-President of Winchester Repeating Arms Co., who made the generous offer, created the beautiful presentation Model 1866 rifle being sold here that Mr. Babcock chose as his just reward. No other known presentation rifle has such a detailed provenance documenting the event that led to the presentation. The Collegiate Commercial Institute, also known as the Russell School, was located in New Haven and founded in 1836 primarily as a three year prep school for Yale College. Their education curriculum spanned a wide variety of subjects but concentrated on military subjects such as military drill, musketry, and artillery. During the Civil War graduates of this school furnished more officers to both the Union and Confederacy than all other schools except West Point. The school continued in business until the death of its founder, Col. Russell in the 1880s. Accompanying this lot is a large volume of research material on both Mr. Winchester and Mr. Babcock and includes a 5-page article by Dr. Edmund Lewis which appeared in the November/December 1993 issue of Man at Arms magazine and also in Vol. 28 No. 1, 2006 Man at Arms for the Gun Collector. This rifle is also pictured in full color on the cover of both referenced magazines and twice in each article. PROVENANCE: Stephen T. Babcock; Norm Flayderman Collection; Thomas Coulton Collection; Dr. Edmund Lewis Collection. CONDITION: Very fine plus. Barrel retains 93-95% strong original factory blue with only sharp edge wear and a couple of minor thin spots. Magazine tube retains 97-98% strong original blue. Receiver & buttplate retain traces of original gold plating being mostly a medium mustard patina. Stock has a couple of hairline grain checks, otherwise wood is sound with light nicks & scratches. Mechanics are crisp, strong bore with good rifling and moderate pitting.
Barrel Length
24 - 1/4"
.44 Henry
Drop at Comb
Drop at Heel
FFL Status
Length of Pull
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $37,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $66,000.00
Estimate: $75,000 - $150,000
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Thursday, April 25, 2019.
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