This is an early Model 1897 Winchester Pump Action Shotgun in 12 gauge with 30" barrel and a special order takedown frame. It has a low antique serial number in the 53,000 range and was built and shipped during the summer of 1898. This is the earliest example of a Model 1897 with the takedown feature that we've ever seen...and perhaps one of the first "takedowns" built. The original patent for the takedown feature for the Model 1897 was filed by Winchester Repeating Arms on behalf of William Mason. It was granted on June 14, 1898 and is listed as US patent number 605,734. The barrel of this gun has the June 14, 1898 patent date which amazed us as it was delivered to the Winchester warehouse just one month later on July 14, 1898 and then shipped on July 16, 1898 to order number 12,983. The BBHC at Cody, Wyoming also correctly confirmed this gun as having the takedown frame, small "C" frame, 12 gauge, and 30" barrel.
In addition to verification of its configuration, this Model 1897 is completely 100% original with the early style three-screw forend, rounded pistol grip, metal shotgun buttplate, and dipped border on the hammer checkering. The caliber is marked simply "12" on the barrel and is correct for the 19th century; it has no W/P Winchester proofmarks. The right side of the bolt is fire blued and marked "PAT. PENDING" (See photos).
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Excellent with 80% original blue. Barrel retains 95% original blue. The magazine tube has approx. 50% blue with the balance worn bright from the slide mechanism. Stocks are in Fine+ Condition, still their original Winchester orange/reddish hue (not darkened) with most of their original varnish remaining. Nice mechanics. Takedown mechanism works perfectly. Bore is near excellent, mostly mirror bright with no major pits or damage...but a tad hazy towards from the chamber end. Really nice for an 1897 mf'd during the black powder era. Nice screws throughout with some nice fire blue on ones in more protected areas. All in all, this 1897 is well above average for an early gun with the three screw handguard...most of the early ones that turn up today are very well used. This one has got it all...nice condition, rare antique serial number (less than 30,000 out of 950,000 made), and one of the few antique ones you'll find with takedown frame option (only available during the last six months of 1898).