NEZ PERCE/WASHINGTON Provenance Antique WINCHESTER 1873 .22 Short 1895
Scarce Winchester .22 Model 1873 from 1895
Here we present an antique Winchester 1873 Lever Action Rifle in .22 Short, made in 1895 in New Haven, Connecticut. This one bears an old placard stating that it was acquired from a Nez Perce tribesman who rode with the famous Chief Joseph, as well as a date of 1914 in tacks above the placard.
The Winchester 1873 in .22 caliber was the first made-in-America repeating .22 rimfire rifle. It is no scaled down version of the ’73 either, but a full length, full weight rifle, chambered in .22 caliber. This was Winchester’s only .22 caliber rifle for quite a long time. Many of the famous American/Western trick shooters used these in their shows. Only 19,552 of the 720,610 Model 1873s produced were in .22 caliber, making these quite scarce for collectors.
This rifle features a 24-inch octagonal barrel. A brass plaque on the right side of the buttstock reads “GOT FROM NEZ PERCE WHO RODE WITH CHIEF JOSEPH WASH.” (the letters were punched into the thin metal in a swirl that starts at the top left and ends in the center). Above the placard, the date “1914” is embedded in tacks. This would have been a rifle useful for small game hunting and trapping as well as for sport.
Chief Joseph (1840-1904; aka Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Young Joseph, Joseph the Younger) was a leader of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce people beginning circa 1871 and ending at the time of his death in 1904. He was well-known, even in his day, by the American public for his people’s defiance of US policy to remove them from their ancestral lands, then their valiant but ultimately unsuccessful fighting attempt to seek refuge in Canada with the Lakota and Sitting Bull—this included men, women and children, not just fighting men (the so-called Nez Perce War in 1877). Their journey began in the Wallowa Valley in Northeastern Oregon, took them through Idaho, and up the middle of Montana where they were stopped, exhausted and stricken, just short of the Canadian border. Joseph and his band were forced to surrender and were interned in various locations for years, including at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (circa 1877-1878), and at a reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma circa 1878-1885), before ultimately being sent to Colville Indian Reservation in Nespelem, Washington. Joseph would be an unwavering advocate for his people to return to Wallowa Valley, Oregon, from whence they came, wherever he went for the rest of his life. During a meeting with President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879, Joseph is quoted saying:
If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect all rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.
The overall condition is good. The action remains strong. The bore is dim with visible rifling. The forearm shows two thin cracks emanating from the bottom on each side. The cracks are stable. This is certainly the only one we have seen like it. A scarce Winchester with unique provenance!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 24 inches.
Caliber: .22 Short
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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