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December 18, 2020 - 12:11 am
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I know this has been discussed many times but I saw this post and thought I’d see if I missed it when it was discussed here.  Note where the poster says someone here told him the wraco mark was applied because of a duplicate serial number

 

https://www.24hourcampfire.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php/topics/12860110/1894-rifle-with-odd-mark#Post12860110

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December 18, 2020 - 1:10 am
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That post is just over 2.5 years old, and nobody apparently answered or commented on it. That stated, the “explanation” he received from the apparent owner/seller is another one of those urban myths. Winchester would not have intentionally defaced the serial number during a R&R.

Bert

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December 18, 2020 - 1:33 am
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He added to that old post just a couple days ago.  

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December 18, 2020 - 2:13 am
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It is said these are Sears marked guns, over a several year period of time. With all the Winchesters Sears, a major retailer, sold over those years, why are we not seeing large numbers with this marking? I have seen a few over the years, but they are still very rare compared to the large number of Winchesters Sears would have sold at that time. And who was Sears fooling, the guns were still marked Winchester on the barrel and tang, and on display for sale in their stores and through there catalogs. It would not take Winchester several years to figure this out if they were concerned.

“Winchester would not have intentionally defaced the serial number during a R&R.”  Difficult to say what a company may have done 120 years ago. Maybe returning a gun with an unreadable serial number was not acceptable to them. You said this in a previous thread. “Unfortunately, there is no verifiable information available concerning the WRACO overstamped serial numbers.  Anything that has been written or discussed about it previously, is nothing but conjecture.”

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December 18, 2020 - 1:24 pm
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The wraco or wra co. marking in place of the serial number was usually put on a gun that was sent back for refinishing (by dealers – not private citizens). This was done so unscrupulous dealers could not sell the gun as new to unsuspecting customers. It was sometimes placed when gun went back for R&R if the original serial was removed or otherwise indiscernible. It is somewhat unusual to find such a gun but it does NOT add any value as a collectible. It may be found on many different models. Sears guns had their own serial ranges prefaced with a “V.” Duplicate serailed guns had an “X” marked in the serial number of one of them (not always).

Happy Holidays,

B

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December 18, 2020 - 4:32 pm
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I find myself in disagreement with Bob’s assertion concerning who and when the “WRACo” over-stamp marking applied. I base this on the several dozen of them that I have encountered (Models 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1897). All of the guns I have examined were early production (pre-1900 guns based on the tang, barrel, and slide bar stamped factory markings), and the WRACo marking was crudely executed. Further, if the gun in question had been returned to Winchester for refinishing, I highly suspect that Winchester would have annotated the ledger records with “WRACo” marked, but in the many thousands of records I have examined, no such entry has been found. Furhter, I have a very difficult time believing that Winchester would intentionally deface the serial number with a crude looking over-stamp, regardless of who sent the gun to them for refinishing work.

It is my belief (based on author Harold Williamson’s book), that it was Sears & Roebuck that applied the WRACo stamp over the top of the serial number. It was how they attempted to conceal the guns that they were selling at a lower price than what Winchester dictated. Winchester eventually cut-off all ties with Sears and refused to sell them any guns. Sears partially got around it by enlisting other companies to conduct “straw” purchases for them. Winchester and Sears had an ongoing feud about this for a good number of years.

To those who believe that the number of “WRACo” marked guns out there is small, you aren’t looking hard enough. I have found a fair number of them through the years, more frequently on the Winchester Slide-action shotguns.

Bert

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December 18, 2020 - 6:33 pm
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BOBR94 said
The wraco or wra co. marking in place of the serial number was usually put on a gun that was sent back for refinishing (by dealers – not private citizens). This was done so unscrupulous dealers could not sell the gun as new to unsuspecting customers. It was sometimes placed when gun went back for R&R if the original serial was removed or otherwise indiscernible. It is somewhat unusual to find such a gun but it does NOT add any value as a collectible. It may be found on many different models. Sears guns had their own serial ranges prefaced with a “V.” Duplicate serailed guns had an “X” marked in the serial number of one of them (not always).

Happy Holidays,

B  

Bob – I am trying to get my head around dealers and not private citizens sending guns back to Winchester for refinishing.  Are we talking about used and worn guns they took back in trade and sent back to Winchester?  The purpose being they could sell them for more because they essentially looked new?  If this is the case, I could see how Winchester would want to mark them in some way so they couldn’t be represented as new rifles.  Do we have examples where WRACO marked Winchesters are also marked with the typical Winchester markings (e.g. underside of the barrel) that indicated a factory refinish?

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December 18, 2020 - 9:59 pm
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I believe that the later under barrel markings were deemed better than the defacing that “wraco” involved. What I meant about dealers and private citizens was the main reason for the marking — citizens were unlikely to send a gun for a refinish to fool a buyer — therefore in the case of private refinishing (unless the serial was unreadable) they were left as-is, whereby a known dealer, honest or not, could be suspected of skullduggery.

I respectfully fail to agree with Bert on Sears guns. The Sears examples I have examined were completely devoid of any Winchester markings and had differing barrel markings, a different proofmark, buttplates (most), sights (most) and front barrelband styles and locations and different forend wood — and were clearly marked with Sears model numbers. They were clearly produced as as a lesser priced model under a Sears contract and barrel marked as such with model and pertinent contract numbers. All Sears guns were Post-64; perhaps there was a time (Pre-64) when Sears did attempt to pirate Winchester sales with some bogus markings but I am unaware of it. I have not read or heard of Williamson’s work, but the wraco marking was applied through the area where the serial number was and not above it, and yes, it was rather crude. I would welcome pictures or information on any Pre-64, Sears marked guns. In my upcoming third edition (digital), the Sears examples are comprehensively covered.

Regards,

B

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December 18, 2020 - 10:15 pm
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BOBR94 said
I believe that the later under barrel markings were deemed better than the defacing that “wraco” involved. What I meant about dealers and private citizens was the main reason for the marking — citizens were unlikely to send a gun for a refinish to fool a buyer — therefore in the case of private refinishing (unless the serial was unreadable) they were left as-is, whereby a known dealer, honest or not, could be suspected of skullduggery.

I respectfully fail to agree with Bert on Sears guns. The Sears examples I have examined were completely devoid of any Winchester markings and had differing barrel markings, a different proofmark, buttplates (most), sights (most) and front barrelband styles and locations and different forend wood — and were clearly marked with Sears model numbers. They were clearly produced as as a lesser priced model under a Sears contract and barrel marked as such with model and pertinent contract numbers. All Sears guns were Post-64; perhaps there was a time (Pre-64) when Sears did attempt to pirate Winchester sales with some bogus markings but I am unaware of it. I have not read or heard of Williamson’s work, but the wraco marking was applied through the area where the serial number was and not above it, and yes, it was rather crude. I would welcome pictures or information on any Pre-64, Sears marked guns. In my upcoming third edition (digital), the Sears examples are comprehensively covered.

Regards,

B  

Bob,

I am not referring to anything that is modern, or even post-1910.  All of the “WRACo” marked Model 1894 firearms I have seen were very early production with Type 1 or Type 1A upper tang markings.  We are trying to compare Apples to Oranges.  Winchester had a known feud with Sears & Roebuck near the turn of the 20th century.

I will see if I can find a picture or two in my research files of the early production “WRACo” marked Model 1894s.

Bert

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December 18, 2020 - 11:36 pm
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Bob and Bert – 

Thanks for the clarity.  At first I was pondering that there were pre-1910 Winchesters made for Sears with different buttplates and model markings… that prompted me to think maybe I really haven’t seen that much of the world.  But yes… I have seen post-64 ’94 carbines marked Sears (and Model 54 I believe) that had different forends etc.  And Bob, I understand the refinishing issue better as well now.  I will certainly look at any WRACO marked Winchester with much greater interest and scrutiny now.

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December 19, 2020 - 12:04 am
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I have an 1892 WRACO marked. The WRACO marking is not crude at all, a very clear, deep professional stamp with a stippled background. I looked at my gun under magnification. The first and last numbers of the serial number are worn, but clearly visible. The edge of the adjacent numbers appear more worn, as would be expected being in the middle more exposed area of the frame. On close inspection, the frame area around the serial number and WRACO marking is perfectly rounded and shows no sign of polishing or alteration.  My gun has a tang repair. the most professional repair I have seen. A metal piece perfectly and precisely fitted and pinned in place, with the piece ending just before the Winchester tang marking. For those who say Winchester would have just replaced the frame, that would have been an expensive repair. Complete disassembly, cost of a new frame, fitting the parts, renumbering. My excellent repair could have been offered as a cheaper and quicker option.  

In the past 60 years I seen just a few WRACO marked guns, and can only find a few mentioned on the internet. Again, in those years Sears, a major seller of firearms,  must have sold a great quantity of Winchesters. Far more more than are appearing. My 1899 Sears catalog shows 8 different Winchester models for sale.

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December 19, 2020 - 1:24 pm
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Bert,

I was totally unaware  of the early Sears history. The later guns have no Winchester markings but apparently the earlier ones do. Any such information or pictures would be appreciated to round out my Sears sub-chapter.

stay safe

B

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August 12, 2023 - 7:13 am
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ConfusedKissI have an winchester ranger 30-30 marked with WRACO49  can send  picture i Wonder what  year it  is produced. Barrel is properly stamped . Over all a very Nice rifle! Hope anyone can tell me anything about it. It has screws to mount scope no safety and screw with pin to hold thereciver just like a pre64. 

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