This rifle has seen lots of use but you'll be hard-pressed to find an earlier one. Antique Serial number is 544 making it very early 1st year production. Its also in a great configuration with standard 24" octagon barrel, full magazine, and chambered in .44 WCF (aka 44-40). According to R.L. Wilson's "Winchester An American Legend", Winchester needed a replacement for the Model 1873. In 1890, Winchester VP, Thomas Bennett offered Browning $10,000 for a new design within three months and $15,000 if a working prototype could be submitted within two:
"John's reaction was that he would "have the rifle in ...thirty days for twenty thousand or [I'll] give it to you". The deal was made, and the Model 1892 prototype was being tested in Ogden (Utah) in two weeks' time, and was delivered complete to New Haven a few days later, comfortably before the thirty-day dealine. The $20,000 stipend reached Ogden in a matter of days. Considering that just over one million Model 92s were made over a fity-year period, Bennett's $20,000 was well spent."
Overall condition is NRA Antique Good condition with the metal worn mostly to a grey patina with some slight salt and pepper corrosion scattered along the metal surfaces. Traces of original blue are still present in extreme protected areas...i.e. around screws, lower tang, receiver flares, on the bottom of the barrel above the tube and along the forend line. Good legible early markings include 2 line Winchester barrel address, 3 line upper tang markings with Browning's 1884 patent date, and early style decorative checkering pattern on the hammer with dipped border. Original sights include original semi-buckhorn rear sight with what appears to be a home-made sliding elevator. Correct and original front sight with German silver blade. Very good screws throughout. The wood shows lots of use and weathering structurally sound. The left side of the walnut stock next to the frame has a small repaired chip at the bottom and another minor one forming at the dog ear/upper tang junction (an easy fix or just leave it alone)....otherwise, the wood looks good. Action works good and the bore is Good+ with good rifling. No rings or bulges. A good solid example of one of the earliest known Model 1892's.