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The 1st Winchester - and the Henry and Model 1866 overlap Serial Numbers
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February 21, 2022 - 12:04 am
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I am a long time admirer of the Brass Frame lever action repeaters.  I also have a few in my personal collection.

A low serial number Model 1866 Carbine (s/n 12,995) was just sold at the last Rock Island Auction … and it had me pondering about the lowest documented serial numbers for “the first Winchesters”. To try to answer my question, I consulted my reference library to find the answer… but it was not as conclusive as I was hoping. 

BTW – my sources are the well known books by; John Parsons, George Madis, Wiley Sword, Les Quick, Larry Shennum & Bert Hartman.

As we all know,  the early Model 1866 S/N’s were a continuation of and also partially co-mingled with the Henry S/N’s … and it appears that this overlap started in the high 12,xxx and continued to the low 14,xxx range. Quick says that he believes that that no Henry’s were built in the 13k range and perhaps only about 20 in the 14k range. This means that the vast majority of co-mingled numbers are in the high 12k range. Quick also states that the lowest  M1866 known to collectors is S/N 12,476, but had no specifics.

Shennum & Hartman have the M1866 year end (first year) serial number as 14,813  with a total number of 1981 M1866’s produced in the first year (1866). Unfortunately- because of the co-mingled Henry numbers … this is not just a simple math problem to establish the start number.

Currently in the year 2022, and given the rough use and low survival rate of these early Winchesters … the aforementioned Carbine # 12,995 must certainly be in “rare company”.  I also see the same # 12,995 pictured and listed by S/N in both Parsons and Madis, but nothing any lower. 

I guess it is up to the members of this Winchester community to fill in the blanks the best that we can.

If you own or know of any 12,xxx S/N range Model 1866 Winchesters … please post the information on this thread. Old survey information or other published charts (for this S/N range of interest) are also good things to post here in this thread. If possible – please say whether the gun you have info on is a rifle or a carbine.

Because of the S/N overlap- the process of elimination can apply here, so a list of known Henry’s in the high 12,xxx range would also be useful in this exercise… so if you own or know of one of these … please post that information on this thread too.

For the sake of all things Winchester – I think it would be interesting and fun to establish the lowest S/N Rifle and lowest S/N Carbine … that is known to exist. 

If a variation of this topic has already been discussed in detail, I apologize. My quick topic search did not turn up anything. Please post a link if I missed it. Otherwise… I am looking forward to watching this thread evolve.

Mike

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February 21, 2022 - 2:00 am
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mike,

In the Inventory of the Winchester Firearms Reference Collection book item 1257 is a 66 with a 9″ round barrel and tube no forearm with a serial of 3327. Then there is a prototype serial 12272 that was sold by James Julia in their 10/06 auction, link below. Jim Gordon had two carbines serial 12937 & 12975.

https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/lot-1094-rare-one-of-a-kind-prototype-or-experimental-henry-1866-carbine-58874/

The last Henry is 14994 which is a transitional model.

https://www.rarewinchesters.com/gunroom/1860/M60-14994/60_14994.shtml

Bob

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February 21, 2022 - 3:21 pm
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Bob,

Thanks for the link to that M1866 prototype that went to the Julia auction and also the info on the two early Gordon owned ’66 Carbines.

Here is a link to #12,995 from last weeks RIA.

https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/1039/4037

I think we would all enjoy seeing some more pictures of these early S/N “12,xxx series” M1866’s … if anyone has some … please post them to this thread.

Mike

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February 23, 2022 - 5:13 am
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Mike,

Here is 12937 one of Jim Gordons that sold in 98.

Bob

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February 23, 2022 - 6:01 pm
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I am a bit surprised at the lack of posting activity on this 1866 S/N thread … I really thought it would be a topic of interests and you folks would be anxious contributors…

Here is something I read this morning, that I want to add to whet your appetite some more:

On Page 72 of Wiley Swords book “The Historic Henry Rifle” he references an article in Man At Arms Magazine Jan/Feb 1992 – titled “Winchester Model 1866 Serial Numbers – Another Perspective”

I checked my large stack of old Gun Report and Man At Arms magazines … and I do not have that particular issue. Bummer., there might be some good insights here.

If you have that issue – please be so kind to scan or photograph that article and post it to this thread.

Thanks.

Mike

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February 23, 2022 - 6:14 pm
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long spur hollow said
I am a bit surprised at the lack of posting activity on this 1866 S/N thread … I really thought it would be a topic of interests and you folks would be anxious contributors…

Thanks.

Mike  

It is not for lack of interest but the lack of information.  I looked at Ebay and this volume is not for sale.  Mowbray Publishing shows this back issue for sale.

https://gunandswordcollector.com/back-issue-list/

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February 24, 2022 - 10:58 pm
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I checked another box of vintage gun magazines .. and I managed to locate a copy of the Jan/Feb 1992 Man At Arms.

I scanned the 3 page article just fine (it is a .tiff format file) but I am unable to upload it as an attachment to this thread. I dragged the file like it said to the box at bottom … but nothing stuck. Gremlins? or more likely my computer skills …

 

1873 Man (Bob) … do you mind if I email these scanned docs to you so that they can be posted?

Mike

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February 25, 2022 - 1:58 am
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long spur hollow said
I am a bit surprised at the lack of posting activity on this 1866 S/N thread … I really thought it would be a topic of interests and you folks would be anxious contributors…
(Snip)

Thanks.

Mike  

I suspect many of us are indeed interested, just nothing to add. Thanks for reporting your findings.

 

Mike

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February 25, 2022 - 2:06 am
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I converted each page to a  PDF because of size.

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February 25, 2022 - 2:34 pm
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Bob -Thank you for converting the files and posting.

That article is now 30 years old … and I have to say that there sure was a lot of “speculation and conjecture” in some of the analysis and theory’s regarding the beginning of the Model 1866’s. I don’t think we know much more now than we did back in 1992 … unless some more of these very early guns – that have been squirreled away in collections, have started to show up.

The article also references the July/August 1991 edition and an article by Houze on the 1866 serial numbers. I checked … and I don’t have that copy… but I think enough of it was rehashed by Sword that we get the gist of it.

I have to also say – the font was so small in the magazine … it was tough to read. The ability to zoom your attachment 150% makes life easier for those of us that rely on “cheater glasses”.  

Mike

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March 2, 2022 - 1:25 pm
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I have dug up more early 1866 information that is pertinent to the topic of this thread.

Enjoy!

-Mike

The following link will take to an article by Skinner on the early Model 1866 Winchesters. In particular … it extensively discusses # 12476 which in fact has been serial numbered (or re-numbered) to S/N 13024, and the theories behind the dual numbers.

https://www.rarewinchesters.com/articles/art_first_winchester_collector.shtml

Also … here is one more article by Skinner on #12476/13024 …. that apparently was published in 1996 in Man at Arms.

https://www.rarewinchesters.com/articles/art_first_winchester_man_at_arms.shtml

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March 2, 2022 - 6:10 pm
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TXGunNut said

I suspect many of us are indeed interested, just nothing to add. Thanks for reporting your findings.

 

Mike  

Exactly! I only wish I could contribute an extremely early 66 to this post. I have never even seen a 66 in the 12k range let alone owned one. The attached photos are of the only 66 I own these days and I feel fortunate to have it. It is serial # 76343 (1871) -surviving 66’s with condition have been tucked away. Not the early one you are looking for but hopefully somebody will enjoy the photos.

66cbn.JPGImage Enlarger66butt.JPGImage Enlarger66rcvgate.JPGImage Enlarger66ring.JPGImage Enlarger

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March 2, 2022 - 10:39 pm
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Burt,  I always enjoy looking at the ones you have retained and share with us!  I will add, to be in concert with the original intent of this thread, I do not have any really early 1866’s either and nothing to contribute!  Tim

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March 2, 2022 - 11:52 pm
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Very nice 66. 

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March 3, 2022 - 1:10 pm
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With the addition of #12982- as referenced in the Skinner article, it looks like so far in this thread …. we have identified five sub-13k serial number Model 1866’s (excluding the prototype) that are still with us and located in collections.

These are:

12476/13024

12937

12975

12982

12995

We are making some good progress. No doubt about the fact these things appear to be “as rare as rocking horse poop”…

-Mike

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