There has always been a part of me that is attracted to historic firearm. There is a history to each scratch, nick and dent in them and they tell a story. So when I say that the oldest surviving Henry rifle was going on the auction block, I was interested in at least the photos of the historic rifle. Henry rifle number 345 in .44 Rimfire is set to be auctioned off on June 8th at the Heritage Auctions Dallas, TX headquarters. Although I am not in the running for even bidding on this historical rifle, I would hope to see it go to a deserving collector that can appreciate the rifle for what it is.
Here are the photos of the rifle for those, like me, interested in seeing the rifle.
For those that might be interested in the Auction here is a release with some information.
“A resolute man, armed with one of these Rifles, particularly if on horseback, CANNOT BE CAPTURED.”
This Civil War era statement from an Ohio retailer’s advertisement cuts to the chase of the value of a new, state-of-the-art firearm, The Henry Rifle.
Heritage is excited to offer one of the earliest known examples, serial number 345, in our Arms & Armor Auction #6119 on June 8, 2014, at ourDallas headquarters. In October 1862 Oliver Winchester wrote to one of his investors that, “…we have had them on the market for about three months.” Thus the birth of the Henry rifle can be dated to the spring of 1862.
The Henry, the first practical, lever action, repeating rifle, was the immediate forerunner of the famous Winchester rifles. About 14,000 were made between 1862 and 1866 by the New Haven Arms Company. Only about 1,731 Henry rifles were purchased by the Ordnance Department between 1863 and 1865. The U.S. Government’s first purchases were in the summer of 1863. By that time over 1,500 had been manufactured.
In a very slow stream of rifles, these first 1,500 left the New Haven Connecticut factory destined for retail sale and private purchase. A number of units in the West purchased them at their own expense. It was especially popular among units in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. The 1st Maine and 1st District of Columbia cavalry regiments are known to have been issued Henry rifles. Abraham Lincoln’s rifle was serial number 6. Factory records show that the April-June 1862 production was about 300. Certainly a slow start for what becomes a very important rifle. Henry number 345 is therefore dated to July of 1862. Very few of this vintage have survived, so a three-digit serial numbered Henry rifle in the hands of a resolute collector will be a rare prize indeed. Our consignor found it in Atlanta; perhaps one of General Sherman’s boys lost it there?Additional information