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Winchester 1890 with Many Questions, Who's Russ?
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November 8, 2018 - 8:29 am
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I bought this 1890 the other day exactly as pictured below.  It has some factual history and some I guess we will never know. It was built in 1897 and went to Russ, Who’s Russ?  He returned the gun to the warehouse just about a year later and it was shipped a few weeks later. It was returned to Winchester and had work done as evidenced by the WP Proof Mark on both the barrel and frame. The barrel is a replacement as you can see from the patent dates.  The blue has no evidence of a different rear sight being installed prior to the one pictured. We will never know if the sights were added at the time of the rebarrel.

The odd thing is obviously the stock. At first glance one assumes it is just an amateur restock to lengthen it. Upon closer examination several things stand out that would be odd to find on an amateur stock job.

The fit of wood to metal is typical Winchester, like it grew there.

At one time it was checkered. The remaining checkering in not amateur work but perfectly executed checkering.

The tangs are unaltered and will still fit a standard stock. The pistol grip was built around them.

The bottom tang extends partially into the wood and is covered by it. It is hard to see but there is wood filler added to the space below the bottom tang in the shape of what could have been an ebony or or horn inlay. It tapers down from the width of the tang to about a quarter of an inch and then extends about another quarter of an inch into the bottom of the pistol grip. If it were black in color it would look similar to other inlays seen in some Winchesters. No markings can be found inside the wood or under the buttplate.

Does anyone think this could have been Winchester’s work now refinished poorly and possibly reshaped at the butt. We know they had the gun back and most likely rebarreled it.  The customer could have requested a pistol grip stock that would still allow the original stock to reinstalled.  If the fit, Possible inlay, and remaining checkering were not so perfect I would never question it.

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THIS ALL STARTED WITH JUST ONE GUN!

IMG_4414-Copy.JPG

 

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November 8, 2018 - 10:05 am
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I was under the impression that in “most” cases Winchester would add a pistol grip cap on a stock that was so equipped. I could be wrong.      RRM

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November 8, 2018 - 10:33 am
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One thing I can’t find in Schwings book is when the first pistol grips were introduced. If Winchester had not yet started the curved tang on 1890’s and one wanted a pistol grip, yours might be an example of exactly that. Purely speculation but it makes sense. Have you had the stock off to see if it is machine inletted or is it fitted by hand?

 

Erin

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November 8, 2018 - 2:00 pm
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I’m guessing someone fit the butt stock from another rifle, checkering and ebony insert lost when re-shaping to the small 1890 frame. 

 

Mike

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November 8, 2018 - 4:25 pm
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Rat Rod Mac said
I was under the impression that in “most” cases Winchester would add a pistol grip cap on a stock that was so equipped. I could be wrong.      RRM  

Your are correct… all of the factory pistol gripped Model 1890 rifles have a black hard rubber grip cap with the Winchester logo molded into it.

Bert

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November 8, 2018 - 4:28 pm
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TXGunNut said
I’m guessing someone fit the butt stock from another rifle, checkering and ebony insert lost when re-shaping to the small 1890 frame. 

 

Mike  

Mike,

That is a “custom” made stock, and it never had an ebony inlay in it (at least not like an original Winchester stock).

Bert

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November 8, 2018 - 4:31 pm
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Erin Grivicich said
One thing I can’t find in Schwings book is when the first pistol grips were introduced. If Winchester had not yet started the curved tang on 1890’s and one wanted a pistol grip, yours might be an example of exactly that. Purely speculation but it makes sense. Have you had the stock off to see if it is machine inletted or is it fitted by hand?

 

Erin  

Erin,

Winchester made the specially shaped “bent” lower tangs for the Model 1890 Fancy Rifles from the very first one made.  The quality of the work on the subject butt stock is lacking.

Bert

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November 8, 2018 - 6:02 pm
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Barrel says Mod 90 not 1890?  Has a 1911 Pat. date too.

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November 9, 2018 - 12:08 am
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Bert H. said

Erin,

Winchester made the specially shaped “bent” lower tangs for the Model 1890 Fancy Rifles from the very first one made.  The quality of the work on the subject butt stock is lacking.

Bert  

Hello Bert,

Any Idea what the first documented pistol grip 1890 serial # is??

Erin

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November 9, 2018 - 12:16 am
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Another thing, the barrel is probably the third barrel installed on the rifle. The model 90 marking was not used until 1919, 21 years after the rifle was returned the first time……. The WP proof marks were not standardized on 22’s until 1906. 

Erin

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November 9, 2018 - 12:30 am
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Erin Grivicich said
The WP proof marks were not standardized on 22’s until 1906. 

Erin  

Per Winchester, the WP was added to the .22’s on October of 1908.

Best Regards,

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November 10, 2018 - 4:00 pm
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I can’t remember the details but it seems, “to Russ” comes up from time to time in Winchester letters.  I recall he was a Winchester employee – head of some department?  At one time, I knew but can’t grab any more of that memory.  Some have observed I’m not getting any younger 😉 

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November 10, 2018 - 8:53 pm
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If my memory serves, “Russ” was Russell Leander, and he was responsible for reworking Winchesters that had already been assembled and sent to the warehouse, but were later needed to be reconfigured or reworked to fill a specific order.  His name appears throughout the Winchester warehouse ledger records for many different models from the 1880s through approximately 1915.  There are hundreds of entries in the Model 1885 ledger records, and hundreds more in the Model 1893/1897 ledger records with a notation in the “Remarks” column with his name written.  In most cases, it was for some type of a barrel change or modification.

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November 11, 2018 - 7:58 pm
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How did Russ’ work and role differ from JPP?   I have seen JPP markings on guns up into the 1911 time frame….but, I’m not sure I’ve seen an ledger entry with his name.  How long did Parker do work for Winchester?

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November 12, 2018 - 2:59 am
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sb said
How did Russ’ work and role differ from JPP?   I have seen JPP markings on guns up into the 1911 time frame….but, I’m not sure I’ve seen an ledger entry with his name.  How long did Parker do work for Winchester?  

J. P. Parker reworked firearms returned to Winchester from outside sources.  “Russ” reworked firearms that had not yet shipped/sold to meet emerging orders.  I have never seen Parker’s name mentioned in the warehouse ledger records.  I suspect that he was active with Winchester from the 1880s up to WW I.

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September 3, 2022 - 4:07 am
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I did some research of old newspapers and found reference to Mrs. Leander Russell who was at a party in which Mrs william Mason was in attendance. It was stated that Mason was a master mechanic at Winchester Repeating Arms. This was in Nov. 1890 in New Haven Connecticut. Now you know all that I know. Don

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September 3, 2022 - 1:10 pm
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86Win said
It was stated that Mason was a master mechanic at Winchester Repeating Arms.

  

For WRA’s factory operations, Mason was second in importance only to Browning, because he modified Browning’s designs to make them practical for mass-production; probably wouldn’t be out of line to say they were of co-equal importance in the manufacturing process. 

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September 6, 2022 - 7:31 pm
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You can find on Cody’s website where Leaunder J. Russell is listed on a early 1900s photograph list as “Foreman of Gun Assembling”.

Link to website below:

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/2308/rec/193

Transcribed list here for those of us that can’t read cursive below:

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/2443/rec/164

The only problem is that the corresponding photograph is miscataloged with this description. As the photograph shown doesn’t match the list description. As there are two many men, rows of men, and the wrong men in the photograph. I’m assuming the correct photograph has been misplaced in the bowls of the Cody museum, somewhere. If not lost entirely. 

Link to photograph in question below:

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/4928/rec/185

On the photograph shown there are 8 men on the 1st row, and a total of 5 rows. Where the list has 9 men on the 1st row, and a total of 3 rows. 

On the photograph shown I can’t find William Mason in the photo. Also I believe on the 1st Row 6th from the left is Henry Brewer – Vice President, and he’s not shown on the list.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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September 9, 2022 - 9:44 pm
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I can’t help but add that not only was Leander J. Russell the “Foreman of Gun Assembling” he was also the co-designer (and patent holder) for some of the .22 magazine tube and breech block system on the Model 1873 Winchester.

Just my .22 cents worth…..

 

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September 9, 2022 - 10:15 pm
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the 1910 census lists Leander J Russell occupation (foreman assembling repeating guns). The transcriber couldn’t read so listed him as working in a printing shop. Totally incorrect. I blew it up many percent to read correctly. By 1920 census he is listed as no occupation (retired)? Born in Nov 1848 he is now near 72. Don

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