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Lot 1007: Rare Winchester Model 1885 "International Match" High Wall Target Rifle with Factory Letter
December 1, 2012
Rock Island, IL, USALive Auction
Estimate: $9500 - 13000
This rifle is one of the very few Model 1885 Winchester High Wall International Match Target rifles manufactured. In the 1870s, from the start of the Creedmoor Target matches and on up through the present day Camp Perry National Matches, the United States has been a country which has been heavily involved in and fully supported the sport of high power target shooting. These events have been fully supported by many of the major gun companies in the U.S. and this rifle is a beautiful example of just such an effort as pioneered by the Winchester Firearms Company and which just happened to coincide with the 1909 Camp Perry National Matches. These rifles and the concept of International Rifle Matches were conceived by A.L. Laudensack, a noted High Power rifle shooter and a Winchester Engineer during the early 1900s. Obviously from his standpoint, only the best, most stable rifle design of the time would work, that being the super strong, and stable Model 1885 Winchester Single Shot High Wall rifle. These International Match rifles can directly trace their origin and designs to A.L. Laudensack. These rifles have certain features that have been found and documented on the few surviving samples and are detailed on pages 164 to 169 of the book "The Winchester Single Shot" by John Campbell. It is noted that approximately 30 but no more than 50 of these rifles were manufactured. The basic features found on each rifle are; they are chambered for the new 30 caliber rimless cartridge of 1906, each one has a barrel length of approximately 30 inches, they have a distinctive short forend with finger grooves on each side that has an integral palm rest on the underside of the forend (remember these were shot off-hand) with the cork cover on the bottom, a hand guard that covers the barrel from the barrel band to the receiver ring, with the metal clips on the underside, a 1902 Krag style rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation with either a Winchester Wind-Gauge or Lyman Globe front sight, a Winchester close-coupled double set trigger, straight gripped shotgun butt walnut stock with a flat checkered steel buttplate, the unique hammer Interlock feature which prevents the rifle from being cocked unless the interlock mechanism is depressed and the hammer placed at half-cock and which automatically cocks the rifle upon closing the breech, and the patented F.F. Burton extractor system (as identified by the large screw head on the left side of the receiver) for the rimless 30-06 cartridge. Each rifle in this group is of the late coil spring design with a fixed barrel assembly (non-takedown). Some of the rifles also exhibited unique features or changes based on the personal likes of each shooter. This rifle is accompanied by a Winchester factory letter dated December 1984 that indicates this rifle was shipped out on August 18, 1913. It states that it was built as an original International Match High Wall Target rifle with the correct 30 Rim Caliber in 1906, 30 inch, #3 round barrel, nickel steel action, shotgun butt, and set trigger. The letter also states that is has the same style cork forend as found on the "Laudensack rifle" old style hammer fly, with front sight thumb screw to be cut off and slotted for a screw driver, targeted at 200 yards and target sent. Two things should be noted on this rifle; one) the cork palm rest is the correct original brown version that matches the forend exactly as pictured on page 165 of the noted reference and also the original Winchester Windage front sight has been removed and replaced with a later Redfield Globe front sight, but this can be easily corrected to restore it back to it's original configuration. We did not remove the handguard, however we anticipate it fully conforms to the markings in the reference. The bottom of the barrel is marked "3" and "F, 3, 1906, 4, VP in an oval, MNS, 1 in a triangle, C" at the breech end.
BBL: 30 inch round
Serial Number: 98613
Condition: Very fine. The rifle retains 90% plus original blue finish with some thinning and a couple of areas of pitting on top of the barrel, a minor scratches on the left side of the barrel from removing the barrel,band, light wear on the rear of the top tang, with some thinning on the lower tang,and edge wear and some pitting on the receiver. The loading lever shows 60% of the original case colors, brightest in the protected areas, with a smooth mottled gray patina on the balance. The wood is also very good with almost all of the original varnish remaining with some pressure dents and handling marks and the cork palm rest has worn off on the bottom and shows chips along the sides. A solid example of a very rare International Match winchester Model 1885 rifle.