Custom Model 1894 Winchester Rifle
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:58)
Arms & Militaria
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: I got it at an auction. There was some spirited bidding, but I came out on top.
APPRAISER: What kind of auction was it, was it a gun auction or a...?
GUEST: No, it was like a... an estate type auction. The thing that really grabbed my eye... I knew it was a Winchester, but when I saw this medallion, it got me thinking this is something a little extra.
GUEST: But I didn't know if this was authentic or not.
GUEST: And I'll be honest, when I bought it, I said, "I hope I can go to the Antiques Roadshow."
APPRAISER: So the plaque says "Buffalo Bill's Wild West." So have you been able to find any information about it, or...?
GUEST: Nothing. I had somebody look at the engraving to see if it was newly manufactured, but they had no expertise and they weren't sure.
GUEST: So it made me think it might not be real.
APPRAISER: It's a Winchester model 1894. The gun was manufactured in 1896.
APPRAISER: So, the gun itself actually could be at the same time period as the Wild West show.
APPRAISER: So it could be from the Wild West Show. That said, I don't think the plaque is correct.
APPRAISER: It's possible, but with a lot of these sort of guns from this period, a lot of people after the fact do add...
APPRAISER: Yes. This plaque could have been added in 1930, 1950...
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: So it's really difficult, a lot of times, to determine what's new and what's old. But when I first saw the rifle, that's not actually what struck me.
APPRAISER: It's actually certain features about this rifle which are far more interesting than the plaque. This would have been a custom- ordered rifle from the factory.
APPRAISER: This was not the standard production. And the way we know that is the gun is half round, half octagonal.
APPRAISER: And it also has a half-button magazine. Generally, they would be all round or all octagonal. And most of the production had the full magazine that came all the way out towards the muzzle. So somebody went to the factory and said, "This is the specifications to which I want my rifle made." And in particular, this person was probably concerned about weight.
APPRAISER: So, custom-ordered, factory rifles like this are scarcer in the market and therefore they would bring a premium. Also the gun was manufactured in 1896, which makes the gun an antique.
APPRAISER: Because any firearms manufactured before 1899 are antique and therefore not subject to federal regulations.
GUEST: All right.
APPRAISER: What did you pay for the gun?
GUEST: With the auction fee and everything, it was around $900.
APPRAISER: $900? And what do you think it's worth?
GUEST: Uh... $900, maybe.
APPRAISER: Okay, well I think at auction it would bring a minimum of around $2,000 to $3,000.
APPRAISER: When did you buy it again?
GUEST: It's been about two-and-a-half years.
APPRAISER: Well, that's not a bad return for two-and-a-half years. You probably couldn't make as much in a...
GUEST: I'm shocked. I didn't... I just had no idea that this was all special order, and I just thought it was routine out of the factory.
APPRAISER: Well, it would be interesting to see what the original factory specifications were. You can actually do the research to find that out. And you'd really hit a home run if you found out that it was shipped to the Wild West Show. If you authenticate the inscription and determine that the gun was part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, I would say that it would add at least $15,000 to $20,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow!
APPRAISER: Mm-hmm. But you have a lot of work ahead of you to try and determine that.
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