Hello everyone, I have an article in this fall’s edition of the WACA Magazine concerning the 1866 carbine with the “Winchester” barrel address as possibly the earliest known. I am interested in guns in the 23000 serial range as to barrel markings, Henry or Winchester marked, to see how late the Henry marking was used and if there is any “WINCHESTER” marked barrels earlier than the #23147. Also, in this 23000 range was when (according to George Madis in the “Winchester Book”) the hammer was changed to add a half cock instead of just full cock only. SURVEY: What have you??? THANKS – TOM
Also, take a look with me on the serial # on this carbine. The “1” is overstamped. If you look closely, the number “1” has a smaller font size “1” underneath that is centered on the tang, with the rest of the serial number a little larger as in standard production numbers. My question is this. Being the current earliest known “Winchester” marked gun, does anyone else (beside me) think it is possible that this one is, not just the earliest known, but actually the very first one made, and serial numbered “1” . Afterward, renumbered to continue on in the standard serial range due to the fact that there were literally hundreds of “Henry” marked barrels still in production stock, and possibly decided not to start over with a new number range, and just renumbered in the current range??? What do you think???
It looks like a ghost number under the 3 as well. It could be they marked it with the wrong size dies and then remarked it.
Interesting topic. I have no idea when New Haven Arms stopped making Henry barrels. But I think Winchester first used the Henry dies for the first 66 barrels. I bet if there were left over Henry barrels they used them too. Clearly no Henry’s were made anywhere near this 23147 serial number range. In John Parsons’ book he states that there were serial number over laps between the Henry and 66 in the high 12,000 and early 14,000 serial number range. He also says the barrel address changed after 9,000 to 10,000 66’s had been made. What is even more confusing is that he states that around Feb 1868 the barrel address was changed by adding the Winchester name at the beginning of the 23,000 serial number range.
Too bad the records for these early guns has been lost.
As we all know … “the first Wichester” is the Model 1866 configuration – which had a serial number overlap with the Henry rifles … starting around or slightly before SN 13,000. The barrels used by both the ’66 Rifles and ’66 Carbines were different than Henry barrels … but had the Henry Patent BBL address until about SN 23000. These are “Winchester Repeaters” … regardless of how the barrel address is marked… and as such they are Winchesters.
You really are not really looking for the “first Winchester” … but the first Winchester to have the name “Winchester” on the gun… which was one of many evolutionary changes that the Model 1866 went through over its production period.
The title of your article “The First Winchester” … is a bit misleading, but I think we all understand what you are after.
In my opinion – I do not feel the “1” in your serial number has any bearing on an attempt start a new SN series for these guns … at the time yours was produced. That just would not make sense. It would be interesting to look at other number “1’s” that were struck in this serial number range or in the teens. I have a few in my collection – and will check when I have time.
From George Madis’s research into the early 66 records from long time Winchester employee Albert Tilton had showed 12476 as the first production 66. I found this in the April 1996 Man At Arms article written by J.L. Skinner Titled “Winchester Model 1866 #12476” on page 40.
I did find what looks like a prototype 66 serial 12272 on James Julia’s auction site.
That is one strange looking 66 on the Julia Auction. I do wonder about it being legit or not. I see that it didn’t actually sell.
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According to every source that I know… Flaydermans Guide pg.307 lists #23169 as the earliest ” WINCHESTER” marked barrel address Known. I personally knew George Madis who made the same statement to me. Wiley Sword also lists #23169 as the earliest known “WINCHESTER” marked gun. Cody Firearms Museum Curator Danny Michael and I talked on the phone, and I have an email from him also stating that #23169 was the previously earliest known “WINCHESTER” marked barrel, and #23147 is now the earliest that he is aware of. I have also owned a “Henry” marked 66 with a higher number, and a half dozen Henry marked earlier #’s (and a couple Henry’s). Also owned #23205 which had a “WINCHESTER” barrel (3rd earliest “WINCHESTER” marked known according to Madis).
I present unto you “WINCHESTER” #23147 – is there an earlier one? Just trying to find out as I am interested in knowing- THANKS for your help!!! … and also, half cock or full cock hammer?- TOM
June 4, 2017
Here is a 20685 Don’t know any more about it.
Found it in another Julia’s auction. Better pictures.
With the shipping records for the 66 no longer existing, or having been lost, however you imagine the case be.
There is no way of knowing which rifle actually left the factory first. As they weren’t exactly produced / assembled by serial number sequence.
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I was wondering where you got the Wiley Sword info? I have his book and I don’t remember seeing anything about the 66″. So I just took a peek. On page 72 he talks about the last Henry serial numbers and mentions “Man at Arms Magazine Jan/Feb 1992 pp. 8 ff. Winchester Model 1866 Serial Numbers. Another Perspective. by Wiley Sword.”
Chuck, the info came from the very article you sent me… here is the paragraph:
“If we shift focus slightly to another related topic, the names used in the barrel address on the Model ’66, we might gain additional insight. A small degree of speculation has developed about when the name was changed from “Henry” to “Winchester.” In the July/August 1992 issue, of Man at Arms, Mr. Wiley Sword concludes that the change occurred around the 23000 serial range. He suggests that a carbine, serial #23169, might be the earliest known “Winchester” marked Model ’66. His conclusion is similar to the one reached by George Madis. It also agrees with the conclusion reached by Mr. Tom Hall, then curator of the Winchester Museum, lit a February 15, 1952 memo Mr. Hall stated, “I have found the name Winchester was first marked on the barrels of the guns somewhere between serial number 21 220 and 23265.”
#23169 was the consensus view then (1992), and also in 2003 when I actually talked with George Madis, it was still the consensus view. Yes, the first 1866 or “Improved Henry” was #12476, but the earliest known “WINCHESTER” marked 1866 gun was #23169. That is what I’m trying to determine. Is there any earlier “WINCHESTER” marked guns that are legit and not put together. The #23147 I have here is legit WINCHESTER marked and earlier than the #23169. – THANKS !! -and hope this clarifies– TOM
I still believe that from early on in late 1866 … the brass lever action guns, with the Kings Patent side loading gate and forearm wood – made by Winchester … were advertised as Winchester Repeating Rifles, but were simply known as “Winchesters”. The use of the term “Model 1866” … came years later and probably coincided with the development or introduction of the Model 1873.
I own an original early 1867 advertisement that was discussed in another thread that confirms the advertised use of the name Winchester Repeating Rifle – see Houze pg 32 for an image of my this ad. The author Herbert Houze… in his first chapter (subtitle is “Winchester New Model Rifles of 1866-1868) extensively discusses some early Winchester correspondence …See page 26 for a letter from November 1866:
We propose as the model of the new arm to be introduced , the repeating gun, presented at the competition under the name of Winchester, by the manufactory of arms of New Haven, Connecticut ….”
Also in Houze on page 29 … there is a September 15, 1866 engineering drawing that is titled “The Winchester Patent Repeating Rifle” with a sub-title of “Ancient Model Henry”.
These guns might have been nicknamed “Improved Henry” … but they were also nicknamed as “Yellow Boys”. The barrel address retained the Henry Patent stamping ( along with Kings Patent) for the first approx 9000 guns made … but they were still “Winchesters”. The barrel address change to include the word Winchester and drop the Henry Patent reference is one of many evolutionary modifications to the base gun, and did not include any other radical changes to coincide with the barrel address change.
Finding the first actual gun to be marked as a Winchester would be unique… and certainly a good gun room conversation topic … I truly hope that #23147 is just that gun – but in my way of thinking (and supported by historic evidence)… it is not the “first Winchester”.
Just my 2 cents… anyone else see my logic?
None of us are saying the 66’s aren’t Winchesters no matter the vintage. These guns were called many things but that is not the point of this post. It is what is the earliest Winchester that has the name Winchester within the barrel address? My memory is not as good as it once was but there is documentation that goes into why Henry was part of the Henry barrel address and why it was changed to include Winchester instead. Remember Winchester was the majority stock holder of the Volcanic. So one would not be too far off calling the Volcanic a Winchester? Winchester was the President of the New Haven Arms Co. too.
You bring up another point that needs some research. What was going on in the Winchester Organization at the time of the change? Does the barrel address change coincide with other changes going on within the organization. I have at least a couple books on the history of Winchester but these are hard reads.
An easier read is the information in the 1871 Winchester Catalog. I believe the second catalog that is available in re print. Stated in the catalog that 5 or 6 new Patents owned by Winchester were incorporated in the new “Winchester Repeater”. The Charter of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. was passed in May of 1865 and approved on July 7, 1865. Then amended in May of 1866. So, new company with a new gun and a new barrel address. The next catalog that is available in re print is the 1873 Catalog. The new “Winchester Repeater Model of 1866” is shown for the first time. The Model 1873 is shown in the 1875 Catalog. Too bad we don’t have copies of the missing catalogs.
Now we are back to what is the serial number of the first new Winchester Repeater that has Winchester in the barrel address.