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Extremely Rare Jennings Breechloading Single Shot Rifle, Factory Converted to Muzzleloader, .56 cal smoothbore, mfg. 1850-1851. Less than 1,000 of these rifles were produced by Robbins & Lawrence under the supervision of Benjamin Tyler Henry. Originally developed as a repeating rifle the design was quickly changed to a single shot breechloader. The .54 caliber "Rocket Ball" ammunition proved to be far insufficient however and most of the rifles produced were converted to muzzleloaders at the factory. Henry would soon go on to assist in developing the Volcanic rifles & pistols and the famous Henry repeating rifle in 1860. While the Jennings rifle proved to be initially unsuccessful they were a crucial piece of development that ultimately led to the evolution of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. This example comes directly from a very old local collection and has never been offered on the market until now. It is typical of the condition these rare rifles are usually found in considering they generally saw hard use with few remaining today. The 26" barrel retains it's original standing leaf rear sight and brass blade front sight with an additional high post front sight added during the period. Overall the metal shows considerable wear with a rich dark plum patina. Engraved receiver and furniture throughout. The left side of the receiver is marked "ROBBINS & LAWRENCE / MAKERS / WINDSOR VT." ahead of "C.P. DIXON AGENT / NEW YORK / PATENTED 1849". Serial number "550" is stamped on the lower tang. The stock shows moderate wear with a pleasing untouched finish. A corner chip between the upper tang and receiver on both sides has been expertly repaired during the period and is hardly noticeable. Otherwise the wood remains sound with no further issues. A Nickel Silver inlay on the left side of the stock is period punch-dot inscribed with the owner's name "N.F.Low". Original engraved buttplate, hammer, and triggerguard with ring trigger. Original cleaning rod/ramrod pipe with old replacement brass tipped wood ramrod. The action is strong and functions very well. The nipple is a partially damaged original. The bore appears to be slightly larger than the original .54 caliber with no signs of rifling so I would assume it was honed slightly for use with ball or shot. This is a key predecessor to the Winchester and would be an impressive highlight among any collection. These do not turn up often and as previously stated this example is totally fresh to the market!
Rare Newly Discovered
PREDECESSORS OF WINCHESTER
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Very Rare & Highly Desirable Engraved Smith & Wesson No. 1 Lever Action Repeating Pistol, .31 Rocket Ball, mfg. 1854/1855 with 4" barrel. The Smith & Wesson lever action repeating pistol is the direct predecessor to the Winchester, Henry, and New Haven Volcanic. Only about 1,200 of these were made and they are highly sought after today. This recently discovered example is totally fresh to the collector market and remains 100% complete and original. The metal has an even dark gray patina with very fine pinprick pitting scattered along the sides of the frame. The engraving remains quite sharp throughout. The wood grips fit perfectly and have an attractively worn dark finish. Aside from a TINY little corner chip on the left side they are in
great condition with no cracks or repairs. There are four kill notches neatly carved into the right grip from the period with two additional kills marked on the left side. Serial number "E39" marked on the bottom of the lever. The grips have been on the gun forever and I did not want to force their removal for further inspection. The barrel is clearly marked "CAST-STEEL / SMITH & WESSON / NORWICH. CT. / PATENT / FEB. 14. 1854". Original German Silver bead front sight with fixed v-notch rear sight, hammer, trigger, lever, carrier, and magazine follower with spring. The action is very crisp and functions wonderfully. Excellent bore with bright, sharp rifling front to back and only minimal blackpowder frosting. A very sharp and totally original pistol inside and out. These do not come for sale often and are a must-have for any advanced Winchester collection.