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    An Important, Twice-Published Henry Rifle with a Connection to Contention, Arizona Territory. The lever-action Henry rifle is considered the precursor to the famous Winchester models. 14,000 were manufactured before 1866 by the New Haven Arms Company, 1731 of which were purchased by the United States Army. Approximately 90 of those were shipped to Fort Knox in Maine, this one probably being number 57 as stamped on the underside of the receiver. The block lettering, "Fort Knox, Maine" is typical of military markings of the period.

    Lieutenant Ezra Rideout served with the 15th Maine and was stationed at Fort Knox, however, it is doubtful that this Henry was issued directly to him, as its serial number 10169 places its date of manufacture several months after Rideout was mustered out in January 1865. Nonetheless the Maine native apparently maintained his connection to the Fort and came into possession of the rifle, which he then passed to his brother, Jacob, probably when Jacob (a clergyman) decided in the 1870s to travel west and preach on the frontier. With his wife he wandered through Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming before arriving in Arizona Territory in the early 1880s. His wife published an 1883 volume titled Six Years on the Frontier or Sketches of Frontier Life in which she chronicles those years (see images on our website). Apparently Rideout spent time in the mining boomtown of Contention, near Tombstone, although he seems to have left no record of his presence there. Named after the legendary Contention mine, the town was also a milling site for Tombstone and other nearby mine towns. In the early 1880s it was a "wild and wooly" place where Jacob Rideout doubtless felt his preaching was much needed.

    This much traveled Henry was pictured by George Madis in his important reference work The Winchester Book (page 44). Elsewhere he has written that all numbers on this gun match and are correct, and that "all the engraving seen on this fine old gun in old and was done while the gun was in use," a conclusion shared by other experts on engraving consulted by Heritage.

    It is also pictured in The Historic Henry Rifle by Wiley Sword (page 44), a copy of which is included with this lot.

    This Henry, .44CF, 24 barrel, is in very good condition with smooth, even patina. Minor drying cracks in the wood, saddle ring on left side of the stock. An important Western Henry!

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2016
    3rd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,016

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