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Early 1800s Winchester engravers work outside factory
August 12, 2016
9:59 pm
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Hi, Brand spanking new to this site. I am going to post some questions and serious concerns to see if any of You nice folks can help Me out. First question I have does Anybody know where are the early Winchester engraved rifles that were done outside the Factory by such engravers as the Ulrichs?  I have read that they did indeed do work outside the factory . Where are these examples and why has not any surfaced ???   if Anyone can answer this Would be a big help..

August 13, 2016
2:23 pm
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Hello and welcome to the WACA website.

Well for starters, the Ulrich brothers (Conrad, Herman, and John), were not the “early” Winchester engravers. Louis D. Nimschke, Gustave Young, and Samuel J. Hoggson did most of the “early” engraving. Herman Ulrich and his older brother Conrad began engraving for Winchester when they were hired in 1870, and younger brother John was hired as an assembler shortly after. John later apprenticed under his brother Herman, and was the least talented of the three brothers. Both Herman and John worked for Winchester until they retired. Conrad (the oldest brother) left Winchester and went to work for other manufacturers, returned to Winchester, and left again.

While there were undoubtedly some Winchesters engraved outside of the factory, I do not believe it was a significant number, and most of them would have been engraved by someone other than the Ulrich brothers. The few that were engraved outside of the factory were most likely done by Conrad Ulrich.

Bert

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August 16, 2016
2:09 pm
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Thank You Bert for your information. You stated that there were a few rifles engraved by these engravers that were done outside the factory. I recently read that one or two  of the Ulrichs had been engraving from a house on a point in Connecticut for quite some time outside the factory. We know by the time the Ulrichs were engraving at the Winchester Plant, they were using smoke plates or Templates to engrave from. There were guns that were done without these templates such as the Mulhill Gun or the XL ranch Gun and others  that looked absolutely Nothing like a factory template Gun Yet, they were done by this family of Engravers. I contest that these Extremely Important Gun’s  would have been Overlooked , even by the experts had it not been for documentation.   One would have to ask Himself , Where are all the other outside factory engravings they did?? Did they do Pocket watches? jewelry? Guns for Friends, associates, Masonic Brothers,  or Family members??? We also know Herman Ulrich did stunning Engraved plates for Currency and No One has ever posted them… ??   I do NOT believe these engravers only did the same template Guns or followed the same mantra on everything they engraved. .. So My question still is, where are all these engraving examples?? We have a span of over 40-50 YEARS just with the Ulrichs and only a few examples of non smokeplate outside factory engravings?? I have a distinct feeling these guns have been overlooked  because they were not factory work as They Were”NOT” Factory.. That being said it does not take away the fact that there were many engravings done by Nimshke, Young, Ulrichs, Gough,etc that were not “FACTORY” but still done by these engravers. Wouldn’t You agree??

August 17, 2016
2:38 am
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Could be anywhere or may not exist in any significant number. The engravers we’re so interested in today often didn’t sign their work so we may never know. Along the same lines I can’t recall reading of guns going back to the factory to be engraved. Since the details of R&R’s are seldom logged I suppose it’s a possibility, haven’t seen anything to support it. I suspect sometimes the work of outside engravers who were not Winchester contractors may occasionally be passed off as “side jobs” by actual contractors.

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August 17, 2016
6:55 am
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Old School said
Thank You Bert for your information. You stated that there were a few rifles engraved by these engravers that were done outside the factory. I recently read that one or two  of the Ulrichs had been engraving from a house on a point in Connecticut for quite some time outside the factory. We know by the time the Ulrichs were engraving at the Winchester Plant, they were using smoke plates or Templates to engrave from. There were guns that were done without these templates such as the Mulhill Gun or the XL ranch Gun and others  that looked absolutely Nothing like a factory template Gun Yet, they were done by this family of Engravers. I contest that these Extremely Important Gun’s  would have been Overlooked , even by the experts had it not been for documentation.   One would have to ask Himself , Where are all the other outside factory engravings they did?? Did they do Pocket watches? jewelry? Guns for Friends, associates, Masonic Brothers,  or Family members??? We also know Herman Ulrich did stunning Engraved plates for Currency and No One has ever posted them… ??   I do NOT believe these engravers only did the same template Guns or followed the same mantra on everything they engraved. .. So My question still is, where are all these engraving examples?? We have a span of over 40-50 YEARS just with the Ulrichs and only a few examples of non smokeplate outside factory engravings?? I have a distinct feeling these guns have been overlooked  because they were not factory work as They Were”NOT” Factory.. That being said it does not take away the fact that there were many engravings done by Nimshke, Young, Ulrichs, Gough,etc that were not “FACTORY” but still done by these engravers. Wouldn’t You agree??  

It is not possible to determine how many Winchesters might have been engraved outside of the factory by the Ulrich brothers, or any of the other Winchester factory engravers for that matter.  That stated, I do not suspect that it was very many.  If you were working a full time job engraving firearms at Winchester, how much of your own free time would you spend engraving more firearms?  I sincerely doubt that Winchester’s management would have condoned free lance work on their products (for profit) by anyone under their employ.  Did the Ulrichs engrave other items in their free time… I believe that they most certainly did.  Did they engrave a substantial number of Winchester arms on their own free time… most certainly not (at least in my opinion).  Regardless of what the real answer is, unless there is positive proof (provenance) that an item was engraved by one of the known Winchester engravers, the vast majority of the collectors out there are not going to get excited about it… and I am of that same thought process.

Bert

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May 26, 2020
5:32 pm
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To All;;

  When it comes to Winchester, Marlin, Colt, S & W engraving by “Factory” employed engravers doing work for “Private” customers outside the factory premises on their own time, of coarse they did. It always came down to the same old thing. MONEY! These now famous engravers at the time they were employed by the above companies were nothing more than talented “Factory Workers”. They were paid a factory workers wage, albeit a talented factory workers wage. If the opportunity to earn more presented itself, these men would avail themselves of such opportunities. And yes, the factories frowned on this, but probably couldn’t watch over what they did when at home on their own time. G. Young always thought to be a Colt Factory engraver was in fact NEVER an employee of Colt. He did lease space at the Colt factory and put Colt special projects ahead of his other customers at times (This was part of the deal made with Colt), but never was he an employee of Colt’s. L. D. Nimschke was self employed. The Ulrich family had various members working at Winchester, Marlin and they did engrave other manufacturers firearms on the side. Many of these firearms are the ones called “Attributed To” by this one or that by the “Experts” in the field. Look at it this way. If you could make the entire amount of a job instead of just a small fraction, and in all likelihood not be caught by your employer, wouldn’t you take the chance? They did.

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May 27, 2020
2:01 pm
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To all.  First, not an expert on engraving by any means.  I do have some limited experiences tho, that may either muddy the waters further or shed some light depending on your prejudices.  First, Anton Dierks (I have seen it spelled different ways) is/was an engraver for Browning in Belgium.  Anton did work at home of an evening and on weekends.  I have two Remington model 3200 shotguns engraved by him.  One was a limited series by Remington sent to Browning for engraving during the normal work day.  The other I sent to Anton when I was stationed in Germany in 1981 or 1982.  Pure accident he was the engraver on both.  Both shotguns have been inspected by an engraver in Tucson who commented the special trap model done for Remington was much better work than the skeet modelCool done for me.  I can’t tell the difference.  I can say the skeet gun done for me was at a great discount so I did get my money’s worth for that project!  Next, I have an 1873 first model SRC that left the factory as a standard carbine.  Subsequently it was engraved, nickle plated, and then gold washed.  I have had a person with better knowledge than me say it was done by L. D. Nimschke.  It is not signed anywhere.  There is the distinct potential that an understudy or some other skilled engraver familiar with his style may have done it.  Without serial numbered records or valid initials or signature on the piece, there is no way to know for sure.  And that is the real bug in the ointment!  Personally I suspect there are Winchesters similar to my SRC that are out there that do not have incontrovertible proof of WHO did the engraving, and whose value then is only slightly better than if they were not engraved.  The decoration was mostly to please the original owner.  Now, I can state that so and so has stated quite clearly that Nimschke did the engraving.  If you believe and the pattern seems pleasing to you, maybe it will increase the value to you (and me) enough to raise it beyond that of a nice condition un engraved piece.  If you do not believe, so be it.  Would it be worth less if James McGuilfoil did it?  Perhaps not.  However, I do think these two stories, one reasonably current, support that engravers would do work outside the factory to further line their pockets.  Tim. 

May 28, 2020
4:13 pm
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I totally agree Tim. Many, many Winchesters were sent off to Hartley & Graham and also J. P. Moore & Sons, possibly at the owners request to get an “expert engraver” to do the work. Colt used to ship guns down to Winchester for either engraving, or more likely to bulk ship from Winchester’s shipping department. Colt letters reference shipping directly to Winchester.

The expert or famous gun engravers were engraved in part by the masters and finished off by the apprentices. There are markings left within the engraving by who worked on the gun.

I’ve seen even Pauline Muriel put her initials within her engravings. It’s not a new concept. It was to protect the originality by the engravers, in my opinion.

There are posts going way back in the Forum on this subject, but many have been deleted.

Bill

May 28, 2020
4:25 pm
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Blueliner said

There are posts going way back in the Forum on this subject, but many have been deleted.

Bill  

Not exactly true…  Posts are not intentionally “deleted” unless they violate proper decorum.  What did happen, was when the WACA website software platform was upgraded (changed) several years ago now, the “old” posts from the previous software platform were lost as they were not compatible with the new forum software.  There was nothing that could be done (without spending a lot of time and $$$$) to retain the old forum posts.

Bert

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