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Antique 1873 musket
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Central Kansas
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October 15, 2023 - 12:44 pm
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I’ve had the opportunity to inspect a really nice musket recently. It is equipped with the bayonet, 5 piece cleaning rod that appears original, sling and around 70% of the original blue. The bore has a faint ring of pitting 10″ from the chamber with the rest appearing shiny with rifling present.  The wood has been sanded somewhat as the butt stock is a bit shy at the toe. Overall a nice looking gun. Do not have pictures but I’m not familiar with these muskets or what to expect as far as value. I did not note the serial number but it does qualify for antique status. I realize pictures are necessary for accurate valuation, I’m hoping for an opinion that would sway me one way or the other on acquiring this model.

Darrin

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October 15, 2023 - 12:58 pm
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Do you want one as a shooter/hunter or a collector item?  This is not a, “rare” Winchester and there are plenty to choose from.  Right now, LeRoy Merz has eight M1873 muskets advertised on gunsinternational.  There are other sellers who also have some listed.  For some reason, many M1873 muskets are encountered in high condition – at least that’s what I’ve noticed over the years.  I suppose that happens less often now.  I do note the prices have crept up substantially since I used to encounter them.

Mike Venturino, in his book, Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West, talks very favorably about his ’73 musket.  I think it was one of his favorite Winchesters and he used it in old style shooting competitions. 

I’ve never owned one but particularly after reading Mike’s comments, I think it would be fun to have one to shoot.  A big variable is the dollars it will take to get it.  Many seller’s want collector gun prices for shooters.  But if a shooter grade rifle is what interests you, and the price is reasonable, it sounds worth pursuing.  I’d have to see photos before I could comment on what a reasonable price would be.

By the way, I noticed you titled this post, “Antique 1873 Musket” yet you note the serial number placed it in the modern rifle category?  That will impact the value.

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October 15, 2023 - 1:25 pm
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  Darrin,

 I have owned several muskets in the 400,000-600,000 serial number range. I bought them because of condition, like new with some having minor storage damage from foreign shipping and storage. I could not resist the condition. The really minty ones were easy to sell but a run of the mill musket is a slow SELL.

  Because of the musket cheap prices, some of the minty ones have been used to up grade carbines. That said a “minty” musket looks good in any collection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 T/R

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October 15, 2023 - 2:05 pm
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Thanks guys,

Steve I mentioned it is antique. The seller had $4400 on it but i know 4k would buy it. It’s not collector grade and historically I’ve not given them a second thought. Recently my interest in them has been notable but I guess not enough to do diligent research, I guess opinions were more what I was seeking and you both have contributed favorably and I thank you.

Darrin

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October 15, 2023 - 3:02 pm
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On the topic of pricing, this topic reminded me of an ad I saw a couple of months ago in The American Rifleman from – a “Special Purchase – Old English estate liquidated” by Hudson Sporting Goods out of New York, NY. 

“85 brand-new genuine Winchester musket rifles, Model ’73, lever-action, 15-shot repeaters, .44-40 caliber, 30-inch barrel, , band swivels for sling strap. Jointed cleaning rod conveniently contained in in butt of stock, packed in original grease.  Weight about 9 pounds.  We purchased the lot and offer them at the ridiculously low price of $13.45 each.  Genuine Mills cartridge belt free.”

Oh, one small detail – the ad was in the December, 1931 issue Wink

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October 15, 2023 - 3:04 pm
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 For $4,000. you should not have flaws. Minty is $7500. T/R

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October 15, 2023 - 3:17 pm
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I have seen a very good example that was apparently sold as surplus from a South or Central American country. It was essentially an unissued musket with several handling marks. I understand it was from a large purchase. Price was a bit high and fit & finish was consistent with a military arm, not up to Winchester’s commercial standards, IMHO.

 

Mike

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October 15, 2023 - 3:38 pm
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There was a large shipment of muskets that came back into the US that were just sitting in crates for many years and most had rust spots from salt air and wood digs from the crates and handling. Some of them were flawless They all are in the 569500 to 571500 range which makes them modern. Here is one that had been converted to a Carbine.

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https://jamesdjulia.com/item/lot-2043-interesting-and-unusual-winchester-1873-carbine-40997/

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October 15, 2023 - 4:16 pm
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October 15, 2023 - 6:05 pm
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  Darrin,

 I like Brent’s gun, a lot of condition, but shooting it would not affect the value. Price is fair, antique, and Bent is a good dealer. T/R

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October 15, 2023 - 6:28 pm
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I bought a 76 from Brent a few years ago.  If you are interested, contact him and see if he will barter a bit.

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October 15, 2023 - 6:46 pm
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1873man said
There was a large shipment of muskets that came back into the US that were just sitting in crates for many years and most had rust spots from salt air and wood digs from the crates and handling. Some of them were flawless They all are in the 569500 to 571500 range which makes them modern. Here is one that had been converted to a Carbine.

Bob

https://jamesdjulia.com/item/lot-2043-interesting-and-unusual-winchester-1873-carbine-40997/

  

The Julia carbine is interesting to ponder.  I am dubious that the conversion is factory work.  It seems there’s nothing in the ledgers to support this, so all there is to work with is a hands-on examination along with some knowledge of Winchester’s manufacturing practices.  For Winchester to cut a barrel down, braise a front sight on … I’m struggling.  The conjecture is they did this to fill a large order.  The factory ledger does support it was a large order as it was shipped with nearly 700 other pieces.  I can’t imagine Winchester would shorten a barrel to carbine length rather than simply installing a carbine barrel.  Presumably they were out of carbine barrels? Also, “factory refinished.” If they took a new musket and changed the front end, why would the whole piece need to be refinished?  Or, possibly the conjecture is the carbine was returned at some later date.

If someone put this carbine in my hands and said, “here’s a cut down and refinished musket that’s been turned into a carbine – and it was all done by Winchester” – and all they had to support this was an opinion from George Madis – I’d remind myself that there are plenty of guns to choose from out there.  

Edit:  I realize the size of the original order is irrelevant as it was shipped as a musket with 687 pieces.  So, it was returned to the factory at some point (not mentioned in the ledger) again, speculatively to fill some sort of large order (presumably an order for carbines).  I’m not following – can anyone set me straight on this?Confused

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October 15, 2023 - 7:57 pm
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I don’t buy the Madis letter. Its in the group that went over seas just like all the other muskets in that serial range and came back in. It was converted to a carbine after it came back because carbines are worth a lot more.

Bob

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October 15, 2023 - 7:58 pm
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  Steve,

 I have a mint musket with a serial number about 300 higher than the carbine, mine is still a musket with a letter, sling swivel, and no saddle ring. This carbine does not have a saddle ring, it has a sling swivel, and it’s refinished??

 I have seen minty muskets up graded to carbines by non factory resent work. If you take the gun apart you can tell. T/R

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October 15, 2023 - 9:27 pm
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steve004 said
Here’s one priced about the same.  How does the condition compare to the one you are looking at:

https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns-for-sale-online/rifles/winchester-rifles-model-1873/nice-antique-winchester-1873-musket-made-in-1894.cfm?gun_id=101927769

  

The metal was better but the wood looked cleaned and as I mentioned slightly shy in a few areas, not everywhere. The muzzle showed little if any evidence of wearing the bayonet. What value does the bayonet add? I’m sure I will run across this gun again but I declined for now.

Darrin

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October 15, 2023 - 9:48 pm
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The standard bayonet on them was the angular bayonet and its been a while since I bought one for $100 years ago so now they could be a couple hundred now. The more rare bayonet that was put on them and should letter with the gun is a Saber Bayonet. It had a attachment lug on the barrel band.  A carbine with one on is even more rare.

https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns-for-sale-online/rifles/winchester-rifles—model-1873/very-rare-winchester-1873-src-with-saber-bayonet.cfm?gun_id=100801873

Bob

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October 16, 2023 - 5:57 pm
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Here is a bayonet for sale.  $150.

https://www.ebayonet.com/bayonetst_z.htm

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October 16, 2023 - 7:13 pm
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I happen to have a spare sabre bayonet with scabbord if You’re needin’ one

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