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Premiums for low serial numbers
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July 29, 2016 - 11:32 am
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Bert H. said
Way overpriced in my opinion. While some collectors will have interest in it because it is a very early serial number, many will not be interested due to the relatively “hard used” condition. While I do believe that the serial number adds a premium to the value of that gun, it does not add up to $15K.
Bert  

I appreciate your frankness and good info as even though I wan’t considering purchasing this rife some other newbie collector may be. 

For future reference, this tells me that in your opinion while a double digit serial # definitely adds to value, it doesn’t necessarily double the value of a lessor condition Winchester. 

IMG_0805-Copy-Copy-Copy.JPG

Winchester Model 1873 44-40 circa 1886

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July 29, 2016 - 12:19 pm
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A low serial number, especially number 1, or the earliest known serial number, would result in a several-fold increase in value, but difficult to quantify exactly. Depends on the gun, the condition of the gun, how badly someone wants it, etc. I should think that the earliest known example would bring considerably less if not serial number 1, because if number 1 shows up, the earliest known example is no longer the earliest known example. I should think that a Winchester with a 4 digit serial number would be a curiosity only (no increase in value), a 3 digit serial number would have a minimal increase in value, or maybe none, depending on condition, and a 2 – digit serial number would be worth a modest increase in value. I am guessing 20 to 50% but it depends on the gun and how badly someone else wants it. Winchester 1892 with serial number 29 is worth only a fraction of the asking price. Also, what is more unique? Winchester 1892, serial number 99, or Winchester 65, with a 7 digit serial number, but the FIRST model 65 ever produced? As this model did not begin with serial number 1, it would be not all that apparent that the first model 65 was the first one ever produced.

Also, Winchester 1886 serial number 1 sold recently for a ridiculously high price. Attached with it were a sword, watch, faked documentation and a make-up “story”. Makes me question if this truly was the first Winchester 1886.

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July 29, 2016 - 1:45 pm
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For comparison, I bought a Winchester 1895 SN 29 about a year and a half ago for approximately 10% of the asking price of the 1892 SN 29.  The guns are in similar condition although my 1895 has had the barrel shortened from 28 to 22 inches which significantly impacts its value.  It appears that both guns are the second earliest “known” examples of their respective models.  (1895 SN 19 sits in the Cody Firearms Museum.)  I do think that I got a pretty good deal on the gun.

I don’t mean to disparage the seller in any way, but I do agree that the 1892 is priced over the market.  I’ve been watching it for quite a while and wishing I could add it to my collection and put it together with my SN 29, but it’s out of my price range.  It’s pretty hard to determine the value of these low serial number guns because so few sell, so I can’t really blame a seller for putting a high price on one and testing the market.  Eventually the price may come down low enough that I can afford it and it won’t cause a divorce to spend so much to put the pair together just for a curiosity. Smile   

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July 29, 2016 - 1:57 pm
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Often the value of a firearm and what a buyer is willing to pay( particularly when two buyers want the same gun) are wildly different amounts. Auction settings are the perfect example of people overpaying for an item, all it takes is two individuals to decide they MUST have an item and “value” is out the window. A friend of mine sells gun parts on line and he tells me he might have a set of 1894 cartridge guides for sale on week and they will be bid up to $90 and a few weeks later he will sell another pair for $40. Identical parts, different bidders. Like the old saying goes, “It’s worth what you can get for it.”

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July 29, 2016 - 5:00 pm
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Kevin Jones said

I appreciate your frankness and good info as even though I wan’t considering purchasing this rife some other newbie collector may be. 

For future reference, this tells me that in your opinion while a double digit serial # definitely adds to value, it doesn’t necessarily double the value of a lessor condition Winchester.   

That was exactly the point I was trying to make.

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July 31, 2016 - 5:16 am
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Bert H. said
Walter,
Absolutely not, and quite frankly, I am insulted by your unfounded veiled accusation! I clearly stated that it was my opinion that it was overpriced, and the last time I checked, we are all entitled to share our opinions (without being accusatory) .
What serial number “1” sold for is unrelated to serial number 29. Any verified serial number “1” is going to sell serious $$$ simply because it was the FIRST one of its series… regardless of the condition. Serial number 29 does not share that same lauded position as “1”.
Bert  

And this, my friends, is the point of this thread. I assign a bit more value to a rifle based on a low SN than my friend Bert…but only a little bit. My collection only has one low SN Winchester, and it’s a very low-4- digit 1895. Mr. Merz has sold thousands of collectible Winchesters and he knows that some collectors place a higher value on the SN than the gun itself. 

Who’s right? Wish I could say. To be quite honest my bid would be less than Mr. Hartman’s. Even in this price range, I’d want to shoot it and I’m not encouraged by the bore description. Quite honestly the buyer of this rifle is more interested in the SN than the rifle itself.

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July 23, 2019 - 1:32 pm
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I own a Winchester 42 serial number 25, a Winchester 71 serial number 83 and a Winchester 52 sporting rifle serial number 9. It is a mystery as to what value the low numbers add to a particular firearm, so I find these opinions interesting and informative. thanks  

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September 17, 2020 - 9:00 pm
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I have a Winchester Model 1886, I’ve been looking to sell it. I’ve been trying to do research online but it’s hit and miss. My gun is in good condition, its a Winchester Model 1886 45-70 Govt. Lever Action Rifle. fully functioning antique Rifle. Manufactured in 1887, early serial number production rifle (serial 5952). 26 inch Octagon barrel, 44.5 inch overall length. Full length tubular magazine loads 7 cartridges + 1 chambered through side loading port, Walnut stock and forearm. Folding express sight. While researching similar rifles online I haven’t seen any with a serial number lower than the 10,000s I’m sure there’s some out there maybe I just haven’t come across one yet. I was hoping this would add to its value, but so far it doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve seen some of these rifles going for $24k and others selling for $1,500, I know the serial number 1 sold for 2 million at auction. Sorry this is beginning to be more of a frustrating ramble, anyone have any advice on a decent place to try and sell this gun? Or what a decent price would be to ask for? Thanks in advance.

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September 17, 2020 - 10:05 pm
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Clint,

The serial number on your Model 1886 Sporting Rifle is not low enough for it to have any positive affect on the value. Typically, a “low” serial number is a single digit or two-digit number. Once you get to the triple digit mark, the premium begins to drop rapidly.

The value of your Model 1886 Standard Sporting Rifle will be primarily determined by its graded condition. The Model 1886 rifles you have seen that are selling for $24K are not standard rifles. Instead, they are Fancy Sporting Rifles, with deluxe (fancy) checkered walnut stocks, a pistol grip, and possibly a few special order features.

For what it is worth, the serial number “1” rifle was most likely not authentic, and it sold with several accouterments.

If you want to get an idea of what your rifle is potentially worth, post at link to a full set of clear detailed pictured of it so that we can assess its graded condition.

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September 18, 2020 - 2:13 am
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Since this thread was resurrected, here is Winchester Model 1886 serial number 72, as presented for sale quite some time ago, the better part of two decades:

 

http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/early-1st-model-1886-winchester.htm

 

I have searched on the internet for auction and private sales of early Model 1886 Winchesters and they seem to be quite rare indeed.

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September 18, 2020 - 6:59 pm
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I am a big serial number guy. I would pay a large premium for a one or two digit number. To me, the serial number is a large part of the esthetics of a firearm. I would pay even more if the two digit numbers were the same, like 11 or 99. Just has a pleasing look to me. But, other collectors I know would consider the premium minimal. My friend has 94 #1111111. He will not sell, but just looking at that serial number mesmerizes me.

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September 19, 2020 - 12:11 am
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mrcvs said
Since this thread was resurrected, here is Winchester Model 1886 serial number 72, as presented for sale quite some time ago, the better part of two decades:

 

http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/early-1st-model-1886-winchester.htm

 

I have searched on the internet for auction and private sales of early Model 1886 Winchesters and they seem to be quite rare indeed.  

I had not seen this Model 1886 before.  What do you fellows think of the explanation regarding the fact that it is now a .40-82 but the factory ledger indicates it was originally shipped as a .45-70?  He makes a lengthy effort to explain this.  Curious if others accept his explanation.  I do note someone must have as it is sold.

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September 19, 2020 - 12:19 am
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The advertisement for it is at least 15 years old.  It sold at least that long ago.  The barrel on it contains the early italic calibre markings as well as the Model 1876 rear ladder sight which is marked “1876”.  Both are correct for a very early Model 1886.  There is no way to prove definitively that this barrel was originally on this gun, only that the gun is very early and the barrel is very early.  Odds are is that is this barrel is original to this 1886 as there is little incentive to change from .45-70 to .40-82, but incentive to change the other way when it comes to 1886′ s, from .40-82 to .45-70.  To me, the barrel and the condition of the rest of the gun are a perfect match.

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September 19, 2020 - 12:40 am
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mrcvs said
The advertisement for it is at least 15 years old.  It sold at least that long ago.  The barrel on it contains the early italic calibre markings as well as the Model 1876 rear ladder sight which is marked “1876”.  Both are correct for a very early Model 1886.  There is no way to prove definitively that this barrel was originally on this gun, only that the gun is very early and the barrel is very early.  Odds are is that is this barrel is original to this 1886 as there is little incentive to change from .45-70 to .40-82, but incentive to change the other way when it comes to 1886′ s, from .40-82 to .45-70.  To me, the barrel and the condition of the rest of the gun are a perfect match.  

It did all seem to match very well.  And as you say, it has the early italic caliber markings and the 1876 sight.  It’s funny how owning that rifle would complicate my life.  A rifle that looks right, and probably is right, but it doesn’t letter!  I’ve mentioned this in other threads, but the letter thing can be a curse – especially in the case where there has been an error in the factory ledger.  

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