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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

WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member
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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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