Image Lot Price Description

Revised: 9/27/2012 

Correction: The catalog estimate should be $200,000 – $250,000.

Additional Information: | Biography of Major Frank North | Major Frank North Timeline |

HISTORIC INSCRIBED 1873 WINCHESTER RIFLE FROM BUFFALO BILL. This extremely important and historic Winchester SN #291 is the rarest first variation of the Winchester 1873 rifles. This gun includes rare early features such as hand engraved model designation and serial number on the lower tang “Model 1873, 291”. The left sideplate appears to be engraved in the same hand “Presented To Major Frank North U.S.A. from Buffalo Bill”. Frank North and William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody had been great friends and fellow scouts since 1869. According to Buffalo Bill’s biography concerning meeting North at Fort McPherson, in 1869, Cody states, “I made the acquaintance of Major Frank North and I found him and his officers perfect gentlemen, and we were all good friends from the start”. There are numerous accounts in Cody’s and North’s biographies concerning their association. There are numerous accounts of Frank North’s and Buffalo Bill’s Indian fighting, scouting and friendship in massive accompanying files with this gun. This gun that was made early in 1873 and though factory letter does not state presentation, the inscription and provenance are impeccable. There is also a Remington conversion revolver with Buffalo Bill presentation to North still in family of North descendants today. In a published memoir by Frank’s brother Luther North, he states in an interview in the March 1927 issue of the American Rifleman, in an article titled The Truth About Wild Bill “we were in the cattle business in the ’70s, after we quit ‘Injuns’ with Cody for a partner. One day, up on our ranch on North Platte, Bill and me were out back of the ranch house shooting our Winchesters, 1873 Model, 44 caliber, 8-squar magazine (just like subject gun). We struck up a ‘tomatter’ can and fired at it 50 yards off. Was we sober? You ask-absolutely. It was like the days around Fort McPherson as I was observing, 50 yards off, and Bill was missing it. Frank came out of the house and let go of all six shots, 44’s, in his revolver and plugged the can five times out of six. He used at the time, one of a pair of Smith & Wesson Russian Model 44’s. Cody walked off, and chucking his rifle up onto the dirt roof of the ranch house remarked I guess I won’t shoot anymore today”. About the time of the presentation of this gun, is about the time that William F. Cody was just becoming famous as “Buffalo Bill”. He is mentioned in newspaper accounts as Buffalo Bill as early as January, 1873 and is thought to have received this nickname from the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia when Cody and George Custer took the Grand Duke hunting buffalo in 1872. Needless to say Cody was enamored enough with his new fame as “Buffalo Bill” to present his good friend Frank North using his new “sobriquet” which William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody would now be known through history. At memorial services for Major Frank North, Buffalo Bill eulogized his partner as “one of the truest friends I ever had, he was a man on whom you could stake your life”. This gun in wonderful “as found” condition is one of the most historic Winchesters and the earliest known Winchester presented by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. PROVENANCE: Frank North, North family descendants. Private Collection. CONDITION: This gun is very good overall, all matching. Bbl retains traces of finish being mostly gray/brown overall with scattered staining, pitting, nicks and dings. Rifling in bore still good and discernible with pitting. Magazine tube is smooth gray overall with scattered staining and pitting with small nicks and dings. Receiver and hammer retain tiny traces of case color turning silver/gray with areas of staining and pitting. Side plates are gray/silver with engraving crisp and discernible. Buttplate is gray overall with scattered staining and pitting especially at top toe. Stocks are sound and solid with scattered scratches, dings and dents. There is a 4″ hairline crack starting at nosecap on right side of forestock and a 1″ crack in same position on left side of forestock continuing back as can be seen in photos. The gun mechanically functions well and is complete with exception of left side nosecap screw and dustcover which are missing. The magazine tube bracket is loose at its dovetailed junction sight on barrel. 4-46330 JS102 (200,000-250,000)

Auction: Firearms - Fall 2012
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.