First year production Henry rifle could net $375,000 at auction

The Henry rifle dates back to 1860. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Co.)

The Henry rifle dates back to 1860. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Co.)

A first year production Henry deluxe action rifle is set to be auctioned off in September by Rock Island Auction Company with the gun expected to fetch between $240,000 and $375,000.

Boasting serial number 17, the antique deluxe lever action gun was manufactured by New Haven Arms Co in 1860. The Henry rifle features a factory engraved silver-plated frame with walnut stock. The barrel is outfitted with a German blade front sight and folding ladder rear sight graduated to 1,000 yards. Though some early production Henry rifles were fitted with a sling swivel and sling hook loop, this particular gun does not come equipped with either.

As an early production gun, it is identified and pictured in R.L. Wilson’s book Winchester Engraving on page 15. Wilson links the rifle to Thomas A. McGrath. McGrath was a prominent citizen and merchant in Shelbyville, Kentucky. During the Civil War in late August 1864, McGrath and J.H. Masonheimer fought Confederate guerillas attempting to raid the Shelby County Courthouse for muskets and ammunition. McGrath survived the encounter with a slight head wound but was shot in the back in May 1865 by Private John Lewis while protecting his implement shop. Lewis was later tried and found guilty of murder and hanged in June 1865.

Rock Island Auction Company says the rifle, despite dating back to the Civil War, is in very good condition with the barrel and magazine retaining 60 percent or more of the original blue finish. The auction house says the rifle is a rare opportunity for the serious arms collector.

“This is a one-time opportunity to own an early production, factory engraved and silver-plated Henry deluxe rifle that falls into a serial number range of known rifles presented to the most influential members of Civil War era society,” the auction house said in the listing. “Serial number 17 is a must have for the serious American arms collector!”

Rock Island Auction Company is accepting phone and sealed bids for the Henry rifle with an official auction date of September 9, 2017.