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Winchester Historian Contact?
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June 11, 2024 - 1:15 pm
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Does anyone know an Email or Website contact for Winchester archives questions?   

I have a question about a Volcanic Repeating Arms lever action rifle.  I don’t even know if they kept or archived sales records for such things.

I’ll share this for the forum.   In the late 1980s I was working on an archeology sight and recovered the buttstock of a volcanic lever action rifle.  I have a short list of people who could have owned the rifle.  I wanted to see if Winchester archives has sales records for Volcanic dating back to 1875-77 to see if one of 3 or 4 people ordered this rifle.

 

Rifle Stock from 1875-77Image Enlarger

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June 11, 2024 - 1:23 pm
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The McCracken Library at the Cody Firearms museum will have some information on the Volcanic. They have a comprehensive  collection of these early firearms. I know a private collector who has a handful of them but am not sure if he is the resource you may be looking for.

 

Mike

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June 11, 2024 - 1:25 pm
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Thanks!  I’m on their website, now.

Email has been sent.  I know it’s a long shot, but we won’t know unless we ask.

I know only a handful of people could have owned this rifle, and am curious if sales records/orders may exist for that time frame. I have a list of potential names, all being officers of the US Navy assigned to that ship.   
  • Commander George P. Ryan
  • Lieutenant Sidney A. Simons
  • Lieutenant Lambert G. Palmer
  • Lieutenant William P. Conway
  • Sailing Master J.M. Wight
  • Sailing Master W.S. French
  • Ensign F.W. Danner
  • Ensign Lucien Young
I
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June 11, 2024 - 2:20 pm
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Joe D. Friday said I wanted to see if Winchester archives has sales records for Volcanic dating back to 1875-77 to see if one of 3 or 4 people ordered this rifle.

By that date, the Volcanic was LONG extinct!  Production ended 1860.  Doubt that ammo was even available after the Civil War.

Is it possible you mean the Henry rifle?

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June 11, 2024 - 3:25 pm
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clarence said

Joe D. Friday said I wanted to see if Winchester archives has sales records for Volcanic dating back to 1875-77 to see if one of 3 or 4 people ordered this rifle.

By that date, the Volcanic was LONG extinct!  Production ended 1860.  Doubt that ammo was even available after the Civil War.

Is it possible you mean the Henry rifle?

  

 

That’s a good point about production. It makes me consider that this rifle must have belonged to the ship’s captain.  He was the only officer who was commissioned in the 1860s, I think.  I’ll have to do more research on that.  But he would have been around long enough to own such a rifle soon after it stopped production.    We’ll probably never know for certain.

I do not believe this rifle is a Henry for a couple reasons:  Note the brass butt plate’s top has a small bump at the forward edge.  That matches up with the butt plate of the Volcanic.  A curator from the US Navy’s history and heritage command confirmed it to be a volcanic.  The patch box is a modification from an 1841 Mississippi rifle.  The curator theorized the modification was made to store cartridges.  But, then again, maybe the whole stock was modified and put on a Henry rifle?   Again, I think we’ll never know for certain.

The ammo question seems to be a vexing one, for sure.  I don’t know what to think about that.

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June 11, 2024 - 9:13 pm
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Hi Joe, the last Volcanic sales would have been from the New Haven Arms Company, maybe as late as 1862 from leftover stock, but probably not much after that as Henry production increased. The oldest sale book the museum has is for Henry rifles but there are no serial numbers referenced, just 20 guns to this dealer, 50 guns to this one.

There are no surviving Volcanic or New Haven customer records. There are a few references in the archives that they kept those records but none ever made it to the museum. I suspect that most records were lost when Winchester changed ownership in the 1930s. Edwin Pugsley wrote that at least some of the old records went into the furnace to make room at the factory. And he was describing them as old in the 1940s, so it was probably at least some of the pre-Winchester material. At least one employee’s notes from the WWI era mention the Volcanic customer records and note that many entries read “cash” which is probably how they were recording in person or individual purchases vs the large wholesale and dealer accounts.

All that to say that there aren’t Volcanic customer records and that as Clarence mentioned, it wouldn’t have been bought new in the 1870s.

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June 11, 2024 - 10:10 pm
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Buy this book. It doesn’t have info on who originally bought the guns though.

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June 11, 2024 - 10:35 pm
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Joe your initial picture of the rifle in question didn’t come through….you have to be a member to post here so you’ll have to put it n a host site and link it here or send to one of us and we can post it…

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June 12, 2024 - 11:03 am
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Daniel Michael said
Hi Joe, the last Volcanic sales would have been from the New Haven Arms Company, maybe as late as 1862 from leftover stock, but probably not much after that as Henry production increased. The oldest sale book the museum has is for Henry rifles but there are no serial numbers referenced, just 20 guns to this dealer, 50 guns to this one.

There are no surviving Volcanic or New Haven customer records. There are a few references in the archives that they kept those records but none ever made it to the museum. I suspect that most records were lost when Winchester changed ownership in the 1930s. Edwin Pugsley wrote that at least some of the old records went into the furnace to make room at the factory. And he was describing them as old in the 1940s, so it was probably at least some of the pre-Winchester material. At least one employee’s notes from the WWI era mention the Volcanic customer records and note that many entries read “cash” which is probably how they were recording in person or individual purchases vs the large wholesale and dealer accounts.

All that to say that there aren’t Volcanic customer records and that as Clarence mentioned, it wouldn’t have been bought new in the 1870s.

  

Good info.   Thank you for sharing.   

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June 12, 2024 - 11:11 am
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Jeremy P said
Joe your initial picture of the rifle in question didn’t come through….you have to be a member to post here so you’ll have to put it n a host site and link it here or send to one of us and we can post it…

  

 

thanks, I could see a thumbnail of the pic, but it wouldn’t come up when I clicked on it.  I didn’t realize what was wrong.  See if this works:

 

LINK:  Volcanic Repeater Stock

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June 12, 2024 - 12:16 pm
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Joe D. Friday said

LINK:  Volcanic Repeater Stock

 

One thing that’s beyond question:  it hasn’t been refinished!

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June 12, 2024 - 1:58 pm
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clarence said

Joe D. Friday said

LINK:  Volcanic Repeater Stock

 

One thing that’s beyond question:  it hasn’t been refinished!

  

Agreed. Historian is correct about the patch box. Here’s an 1841 found buried in a field in South Texas. It hasn’t been refinished either!

 

Mike

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June 12, 2024 - 11:54 pm
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TXGunNut said

Here’s an 1841 found buried in a field in South Texas. It hasn’t been refinished either!

Mike

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I would love to hear THAT story!

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June 13, 2024 - 12:10 am
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JWA said

TXGunNut said

Here’s an 1841 found buried in a field in South Texas. It hasn’t been refinished either!

Mike

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I would love to hear THAT story!

  

Jeff-

I wrote an article about it for the TGCA Collector, will be out shortly. I think I can e-mail you a copy. My IT department is still a bit dysfunctional after the tornado. Bert may be able to forward it to you if I can’t. 

 

Mike

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June 13, 2024 - 2:27 am
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Got it through the IT rubble, thanks Mike!

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June 13, 2024 - 4:25 am
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Giles and Shuey mention ammunition being available as last as 1865.

With the patch box on the stock, I wonder if it was some how converted to a different form of a muzzleloader or a breechloader.

A shame the rest of it wasn’t with the buttstock.

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