Experimental Henry Winchester Presentation Briggs Rifle
Updated: May 6
Before there was Winchester, there was Henry. But it wasn’t an abrupt jump from one to the other. Instead, there was a lot of refinement, reworking, and new patents to go from the Henry Model 1860 to the Winchester Model 1866.
This gun, known as the presentation Briggs patent Winchester carbine, is the stepping-off-point for the two rifles.
Both George W. Briggs and Nelson King patented improved loading mechanisms for the Henry rifle, and assigned them to Oliver Winchester. Briggs’ design had a sliding magazine tube that moved forward enough to allow cartridges to be loaded into it in front of the receiver.
There are only seven known prototypes of the Briggs patent. Six of them all have one thing in common: they are unadorned. The seventh prototype, this one, is beautifully engraved - and with good reason: it was presented to George Briggs by Oliver Winchester himself. The gun then descended through the Briggs family.
In 1950, one of Briggs’ nephews, Elmer, wrote to Thomas Hall, the curator of the Winchester Gun Museum, which became the Cody Firearms Museum. Hall confirmed the exceptional nature of the gun, telling Elmer, “what you have is not a true Henry or Winchester Model 1866.”
Chambered in .44 rimfire with a 21" round barrel and magazine, the engraved brass frame was likely done by a man named Hoggson or Hodgson - spellings vary - who is known to have done some of the best Henry engravings.
Experimental, prototype, fully finished, and decorated Winchesters are among the rarest of all Winchesters, and this carbine represents the finest and rarest Winchester prototype carbine of all time, and is comparable to the engraved Smith and Wesson prototype carbine sold in 2020 for $488,750.00. There are at least two Smith and Wesson's ... but only one Briggs Patent engraved carbine.
Quite simply, this carbine has no equal in terms of importance.
This amazing firearm will be available in the May 2021 sale from Lewis & Grant Auctions. Visit www.lewisandgrant.com for more info.
UPDATE: Sold for $172,500 including 15% buyer's premium.
Enjoy this content? Consider supporting my work by becoming a patron through Patreon.
Click here for a free 3-page download with tips about caring for your antique and collectible firearms.