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Very interesting rifle with circa 1898 factory (not museum) letter
May 17, 2019
6:27 am
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With the lighting on the photos and the color of the blue on the receiver looks good, just doesnt quite look right.  Would also anticipate a little brighter case colors on the lever based on the overall condition of the rest of the gun. I think Id put a Lyman tang sight on it and remove what looks like a 1905 Marbles flexible joint tang sight. 

The letter is perplexing.  If real, I tend to think the letterhead of Lewis reading "Representative of WRACO" could be interpreted as him being a broker for Win, and not necessarily an employee or salesperson for Winchester.  Also too, Ive seen that "W" logo before but cant find the old reference.  What strikes me is that while there are some grammatical errors you could explain away as someone not wanting to start over with a new draft, done hastily, or poor grammar, there is a correction on the page (third sentence with the word "about" where the "i" is crossed out with typed "o".  So why not correct the other errors.   The letter alludes to 3 ("there") guns but apparently only his was marked--so where there three purchased, two of which going to someone else?  Its also odd that Lewis would reiterate the meaning of the Latin inscription, and that it was "(In Latin)", as if the person ordering wouldnt know.  Or was Lewis being boastful at the benefit of buyer, as part of a sales pitch to make him feel good about the addition of the inscription.  Or stressing that its addition was a bit out of the ordinary or special.  But why only call out that one feature above all else?  Mr. Roosevelt could be anyone living in the surrounding area.  The address referenced though is in older part of town, like Maverick said, something else could have been there before, maybe not so much a business, but a permanent residential address for a Mr. Lewis. 

Back to the paper, you can tell a lot more if in hand than by viewing on a computer screen.  Looks like it was type written on an old typewriter, also noticed the horizontal alignment in certain spots isnt exactly straight and the old worn out letter keys or poor quality ribbon.  Looks like the page was folded down the middle and then folded over a couple of times horizontally, the center crease has distorted the lettering by being distressed at the fold, or it could be a function of how it was scanned by RIA.  Postal envelopes came in a multitude of sizes then, most tended to be smaller dimensions, maybe it was folded in that manner to accommodate a period envelope.  Interesting too are what appears to be water stains on the paper.  However, if it were folded when it was water damaged, I would anticipate similar or corresponding patterns of staining would appear on both halves of the page.  Cant determine whether or not the pen used was a fountain pen or a roller ball pen.  Fountain pens would have been of the period.  Roller ball pens have been around since the late 1880's but they werent really commercially used until the late 1930's and into the 1940's.  The signature starts off with the "J" with a skipping of the line through to the lower upward stroke in the letter"J", unclogging and flowing for the rest of the signature.  Never used a fountain pen but have had roller ball pens do the same.  But then the ink is lighter for the last name.  

And totally agree, the mentioning of the proof marks is odd and out of place for the time period   

Too many questions that arent easily or definitively answered without some hands on examination and little more research.      

DSC_0245-Copy-3.JPG1892takedown @sbcglobal.net ......NRA Endowment Life Member.....WACA Member

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May 17, 2019
7:41 am
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That letter is incredibly bogus!  The statement about proofmarks is relevant to a collector in the 21st Century.  Has no relevance to a customer in the late 19th Century.  I doubt if the customer would even have noticed one way or another.

May 17, 2019
12:07 pm
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Yup, agreed.  The letter is just an added novelty at best.

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"God is great.....beer is good.....and people are crazy"... Billy Currington

May 17, 2019
2:47 pm
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While I agree that the odds are extremely strong in favor of the letter being bogus, I also fully agree that it is perplexing.  It would be fascinating to talk with the writer (or faker) and come to understand whether the grammar errors were intentional and so on. 

May 19, 2019
9:42 pm
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1892takedown said
Also too, Ive seen that "W" logo before but cant find the old reference.    

In my previous post I had failed to notice the "Red W TRADEMARK REG IN U.S. Pat. Off.". 

Glad you mentioned it. As this information is the most astounding proof that this letter is a total FAKE.

As Winchester did not use the "Red W TRADEMARK REG IN U.S. Pat. Off." until June 28th, 1906.

Also taking into account proof marks weren't used until 1905.

So unless Mr. James K Lewis is a time traveler and went back 8 years into the past with his letterhead in hand to pen a letter in the year 1898. 

I do believe someone forged a letter! And if a letter was forged, What else is going on here?

Sincerely,

Maverick

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