This 1873 came to us from a Southern family originally from Virginia. Whoever purchased it must have had a few dollars extra to afford the special order case color hardened receiver and trim along with a half octagon barrel. It's pretty unusual to find a 1/2 octagon barrel on an 1873 with a full magazine...most of these have the short button mags. These features are all confirmed in a 1991 dated letter from the Cody Firearms Museum (see photo). Serial number is in the 281,000 range and was shipped in October, 1888. Caliber is .38 WCF.
Like many 1873 semi-deluxe rifles with case colors, we usually find these with a little higher grade of wood with extra finish and Rocky Mountain Blade Front sights. In the Winchester Book, George Madis made mention that this was probably due to the fact that rifles with certain special order features were built by the factory's custom shop. They also had their own wood department for stocking deluxe rifles...so it's fair to say that most of the walnut they had on hand were the fancier blanks with curl or burl crotch wood. That said, this rifle has some nice grain pattern and flashes of burl towards the buttplate...especially on the right side as well as towards the front of the forend. On a scale from 1x-4x, this would grade pretty close to 1x. The Rocky Mountain Front was also a little extra the custom shop would throw in as a freebie. These were beautiful sights with a long sloping iron blade with a small line of platinum inserted on the rear face for better visibility. The base of the Winchester Rocky Mountain was also different from the standard base...instead of a straight slot, it tapered towards the middle as though it "pinches" the sight blade. This rifle has its original tapered base but unfortunately lost its Rocky Mountain blade which someone replaced with a small piece of copper long ago.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Very Good+ with a nice smooth gray patina overall with strong lines of original faded case colors around the sideplates, the hammer, dust cover rail, and quite a bit remaining on the lower tang. The loading port still shows quite a bit of its original fire blue. Hammer is mostly silvered-out case colors and there is even some remaining on the forend cap. Barrel and magazine tube have traces of original blue in protected areas...along the wood line, near the frame, between the barrel and mag tube and around the front eyelet which secures the tube. The action is in Excellent condition...feels tight and the lever still snaps shut. The bore is still bright with nice rifling and very little corrosion...Fine Plus Overall. Excellent markings throughout including "38 CAL" in script on the brass loading block. Very Good screws overall with most showing perfect slots. The wood is in Fine Condition with 80% original glossy varnish remaining on the stock. Forend shows more wear from being carried but still retains 25% original varnish towards the front. Perfect wood-to-metal fit. No cracks or chips. Trapdoor is present in the buttplate for carrying a set of cleaning rods or extra ammunition. This is a very nice example of an 1873 Semi-Deluxe rifle right out of a family that has never been in a collection before!